Addictions counselors help individuals deal with some of the worst problems
anyone can face -- addictions and substance abuse. Problems with addictions
can affect a user's family life, marriage, self-esteem, career, education
and mental and emotional health.
These counselors work closely with psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical
social workers, psychiatric nurses and school counselors.
What qualities do you need to be a good counselor? "Learn how to talk less
and listen more," says Vaughn Howland, a counselor in Maryland. "Learn how
to let people be. Learn how to read and write well. All of these are essential
traits for a drug and alcohol professional."
The most commonly used recovery plan for people suffering from drug, alcohol
or gambling dependency is the 12-step program. Addicts work their way through
these 12 steps with the support of a "sponsor," and attend group meetings
where experiences are shared.
This is a stressful job and professionals always face the risk of burnout.
Addiction is a complex problem that deals with the environmental aspects of
the patient. High physical and emotional energy is required to handle the
array of problems counselors face.
Most have offices because privacy is essential for confidential and frank
discussions. This career does not have physical requirements and people with
special mobility needs should have no problems pursuing it.
Work hours may be sporadic, according to Howland. "It's hard to schedule
crises. You have to be flexible with some evenings and some weekends. Some
travel is required. I average about 40 to 50 hours a week -- some are much
less and some much more."