A career in helping people overcome substance abuse

In the United States, substance abuse and use of illegal drugs are increasing at an alarmingly increasing rate. The costs of addiction on society is significant. It’s estimated that the addiction to tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs costs the U.S. over $740 billion annually. This figure includes health care costs, costs related to crime, and the loss of productivity in the workplace.  The substance abuse problem requires a great number of professionals to help those suffering from addiction. There are multiple rewarding careers geared at helping people overcome substance abuse problems and addictions. Here are three career choices in the drug abuse treatment and prevention field.

1. Addiction Counsellor

An addiction counsellor is one of the most widely known professional career choices for drug abuse work. Addiction counsellors work with children, teens, and adults alike in an attempt to help with drug abuse problems and other addictions. Other common addictions include gambling.

Addiction counsellors work with the patient to identify the addiction and develop a plan for recovery. These counsellors are responsible for educating patients and their families about drugs, treatment, and life following the treatment. People looking to get into an addiction counsellor career can rest assured that job prospects will only continue to grow. This career is estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow an approximate 27% in the future.

There are several steps in becoming an addiction or substance abuse counsellor. Addiction counsellors must earn an accredited counselling degree. Likely, they will be required to work as a counsellor to acquire supervised clinical practice hours. Addiction counsellors are also required to pass a national or state licensing or certification exam after they receive their degree.

2. Social Worker

Another career path that one might take to help others overcome substance abuse is that of a social worker. Social workers often work with clients that are struggling with addictions. Also, social workers help clients with mental health conditions. These mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia sometimes lead to substance abuse. Social workers are employed in a variety of settings. This includes hospitals, social service organizations, health clinics, and even residential treatment centres.

The outlook is excellent for a career as a social worker. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be a 31% job growth increase for social workers between 2010 and 2020. This is a promising statistic for those pursuing a career as a social worker. Salaries for this type of work range widely due to the variety of workplaces in the field.

Substance abuse and mental health social workers are required to obtain a master’s level of education. For people already in the workforce or with families, it can be challenging to work a master’s program into their schedule. Fortunately, some schools are now offering flexible, online courses for the convenience of their students. For example, Tulane University offers an online Master of Social Work program that allows people from all over the country to attend their classes.

3. Substance Abuse Nurse

Another excellent career option for treating patients with addictions and helping them overcome substance abuse is a position as a substance abuse nurse. Nurse practitioners cover a variety of roles, and substance abuse nurses are trained in behavioural health to address addiction problems. Substance abuse nurses are involved in all aspects of care including promotion, prevention, treatment, and recovery.

The duties of a substance abuse nurse include administering medications, speaking with patients about aid programs, addiction education, monitoring patient treatments, and providing support. These nurses may work in a variety of settings including mental health clinics, psychiatric wards, private practices, hospitals, and treatment centres. The country’s growing substance abuse problem and the current shortage of nurses mean that the need for qualified substance abuse nurses will continue to grow.

Nurses specializing in substance abuse will be required to undergo both general medicine and mental health training. Either an Associate of Science in Nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing must be obtained before taking the National Council of State Boards of Nursing licensure exam for registered nurses. Various experience time in the field is also required.

The future of substance abuse aid careers

The substance abuse epidemic is unfortunately growing. However, this means that there is plenty of opportunities for compassionate people to work with victims of addiction and help them overcome substance abuse, through a variety of careers. The outlook for careers in the substance abuse field is promising.

Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.