What Is a Substance Abuse Specialist and How to Become One
A substance abuse specialist assists with therapy and counseling to people who are recovering or attempting to recover from substance abuse. As a substance abuse specialist, you may work with addicts of alcohol, marijuana, or other narcotics. Job duties vary, but you focus on helping clients cope with and address the underlying causes of substance abuse, and create strategies to prevent it from happening again. At a treatment center, you may gather information about the patient and provide community resources and referrals to the patient’s family. You may lead a self-help group such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Other substance abuse specialists provide counseling to inmates battling addiction. Substance abuse specialists work in rehabilitation centers, government agencies, and in private practice.
Substance abuse poses a serious health risk and requires extensive training to treat. To become a substance abuse specialist, earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, or a related field. Many employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree. Intern or acquire an entry-level position at a rehabilitation center to gain experience working with addicts and their families. Most states require substance abuse specialists to be licensed to practice, so research the qualifications in your state.