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Becoming a Substance Abuse Counselor in Alabama

Substance Abuse Counseling Degree Programs in Alabama

Substance abuse is a serious health problem throughout the United States. It tears families apart, costs a huge amount in lost work productivity every year, and significantly reduces an individual’s quality of life.

If you want to become an addiction counselor, Alabama is a great place to start your career and make a real difference.

Alabama is a big priority in the country’s fight against drug addiction and substance abuse. A White House report indicates that Alabama has more meth labs than almost any other state, and that the reported rate of illicit drug use within the past 30 days is significantly higher than the national average (2016).

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In a recent town hall meeting, the governor of Tuscaloosa brought up the addiction epidemic (Tuscaloosa News, 2016). As a community, they are looking for ways to minimize drug use, stop the cycle of addiction before it begins, and give addicts access to effective treatment solutions.

Education is the first step to earning Alabama addiction counselor certification.

Learn more about how to become an addiction counselor in Alabama by contacting counseling programs below.

Substance Abuse Counselor Training in Alabama

With an undergraduate degree in counseling and appropriate work experience, you may qualify for jobs that do not require counselor certification in Alabama.

A four-year Bachelor’s degree in substance abuse counseling provides insight into the world of addiction, the factors that predispose patients to abuse, and treatment methods that are based in psychological evidence.

Each Bachelor’s program in this area has a set of learning outcomes that students must achieve. These learning outcomes tend to focus on a knowledge of addictive disorders, counseling theories, spirituality in addiction and recovery, case management, family dynamics, and crisis intervention.

Your required courses should all work toward one or more of these goals.

Substance Abuse Counseling Courses

  • Foundations of Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
  • Group Interventions and Community Resources for Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
  • Case Management and Crisis Intervention Skills
  • Relapse Prevention
  • Family Dynamics and Communication
  • Advanced Counseling Theories in Addiction and Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Treatment of Addiction and Substance Abuse Disorders
  • Trauma, Addiction, and Substance Abuse Disorders

This type of degree often includes some supervised work experience. You may be supervised by your instructor and a licensed substance abuse counselor. This experience helps you build connections with local employers and learn how counseling theories are actually applied in counseling settings.

Master’s in Substance Abuse Counseling—Alabama Requirements

If you already have a Bachelor’s degree, you may be looking into Master’s and PhD programs. Earning a Master’s in substance abuse counseling generally requires the completion of 48 credits, which takes an average of three years.

With an Alabama PhD in addiction psychology, you may delve more into the research surrounding this field and prepare yourself for both clinical and research positions. A PhD requires between five and seven years of study.

As a Master’s degree student, you go through a rigorous training program that prepares you to work independently with those who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

Your curriculum may include the courses listed below or courses similar to them.

Certified Substance Abuse Counselor Courses

  • Facilitation Skills and Counseling Techniques
  • Theories of Counseling
  • Group Dynamics and Counseling
  • Evaluation and Assessment of the Individual
  • Research Methodology
  • Prevention and Treatment of Chemical Dependency
  • Treatment of Addictive Family Diseases
  • Treatment Theories and Modalities of Addictive Disease
  • Drug Education, Prevention, and Intervention
  • Physiological Dynamics of Alcohol and Other Drugs

The overarching goals of a graduate degree tend to tap into your potential as a counselor and the expansive knowledge of substance abuse you need to serve your patients.

Program outcomes center on a knowledge of commonly abused drugs, the effects of specific drugs on brain function, the physiology and psychology of addiction, ethical and clinical judgment, patient consultation, and professional accountability.

Clinical work is a significant component of this degree. An accredited counseling degree program must meet the licensing requirements of the Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling.

They require that counseling applicants have at least 100 practicum hours at the graduate level and at least 600 completed internship hours. After meeting the testing and education requirements of the board, you may apply to become an Associate Licensed Counselor or a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Substance Abuse Counselor Careers in Alabama

The careers you qualify for in Alabama are determined largely by your AL substance abuse counselor certification.

Those who earn a graduate degree and become certified can work as licensed counselors and social workers. With a Bachelor’s degree, you may apply for jobs as an Associate Addiction Professional or an Alcohol Drug Counselor. The latter requires a Bachelor’s degree and 4,000 hours of relevant work or internship experience.

As legislators struggle to contain Alabama’s drug abuse problem, the demand for counseling professionals is on the rise in this state. As a certified addiction counselor, you may work in a clinic or hospital as a substance abuse counselor. Job openings in this field may increase 20% between 2014 and 2024 (O*Net, 2016). The average salary for a substance abuse counselor in Alabama is $41,420 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016).

Those who work as substance abuse social workers perform some of the same job functions as counselors, but licensing requirements are less strict. Demand may increase 17% by 2024 (O*Net, 2016). On average, substance abuse social workers earn $36,770 per year in Alabama (BLS, 2016).

No matter which substance abuse counselor careers you pursue, it’s important to build your professional network as early as possible. You may compare certification options, attending continuing education events, and learn about job opportunities as a member of the Alabama Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association.

Both public and private employment options are available in Alabama. While some patients may seek counseling through private clinics, many need the low-cost services of public clinics. You may look into employment options with the Alabama Department of Mental Health, specifically the Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Those who want to significantly improve their community, help people enjoy long and healthy lives, and create a society that is safe for future generations are a natural fit for the field of substance abuse counseling.

This field is one of the most crucial elements of public health efforts in Alabama, as lowering addiction rates has a positive effect on income levels, children’s health, life expectancy, and mental health.

Start building the foundation for your new career now by reaching out to schools that offer substance abuse counselor training in Alabama.