Addictions counselors help people overcome dependencies with alcohol, drugs and gambling. Counselors work with individuals, groups or the families of addicts. They refer their clients to doctors, social services and support groups, and they may help their clients during legal proceedings. Here's how to become an addiction counselor.
Complete the appropriate training in your state to become an addictions counselor. Requirements may include a bachelor's degree in Human Resources, Psychology or Social Work; a certificate or associates degree in addictions counseling; completion of an internship; passing a state licensing exam and being free of drugs, alcohol and other addictions. Again, all of these requirements boil down to the state you live in--call a treatment center in the state you're interested in working in--they (and your college guidance counselor) can give you an idea of the classes you'll need to take.
Pursue the following electives in college, as they will help you as an addictions counselor: Therapy and Counseling; Psychology; Sociology and Anthropology; Customer and Personal Service; Education and Teaching; English Language; Philosophy and Theology; Administration and Management; and Law and Government. Of course, as mentioned in Step 1, every state has different requirements in order to become a state-certified counselor--double and triple check with your college guidance counselor every step of the way when choosing your classes.
Hone your skills in the following areas... Communication: You must express yourself clearly, listen to others and understand and ask questions. Reasoning and problem solving: You should notice when something is not right, identify potential problems, offer solutions and think of creative ways to solve problems. Working with people: Modify your approach based upon the way a person reacts to your counseling, always look for ways to help others, use persuasion to convince others to try different problem-solving techniques and solve problems by bringing others together to discuss their differences.
Unfortunately, problems such as alcoholism and drug addiction are not going away soon. The outlook for this career is positive. Some areas of the United States have seen double-digit increases in the need for addiction counselors.