Signs You Might Enjoy a Career in Addiction Counseling

<span>Signs You Might Enjoy a Career in Addiction Counseling</span>

Grand Canyon University’s Master of Science in Addiction Counseling program focuses on a range of addiction-related issues and treatments. Continue reading to learn more about addiction counseling and whether this may be the right career path for you.


You Enjoy the Rewards That Come From Hard Work

A career in addiction counseling can be a relatively difficult path and is sure to present you with challenges. However, it is because of this that many people choose to pursue a job in this field. As a counselor in this area, you will have the opportunity to assist those who feel hopeless and enjoy the experience of helping them make progress. If you thrive on serving others and want a career that can be emotionally rewarding, then addiction counseling could be the right career for you.

You Are Looking for a Career With Job Security

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors to increase by about 25% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than average, accounting for an estimated increase of 79,000 jobs in the field.1 If this is a career that interests you, then you can benefit from knowing that the job outlook is positive.

You Want a Career That Fosters Personal Growth

Choosing a path that offers job security is a priority for many people. Addiction counseling offers this benefit with the additional advantage of promoting personal development. As you counsel others and recommend lifestyle changes that can promote their health and recovery, you may find yourself benefiting from your own advice and growing as an individual.

You Enjoy Working With People

If you want to pursue a career in addiction counseling, you must enjoy communicating with individuals, because most of your time will be spent working through situations, struggles and problems that someone wants to overcome. Counseling is all about the person and finding ways to communicate solutions so they can recover from whatever addictions they are facing. Not only that, but learning to listen is important as well, because you will have to understand how to respond to difficult situations.

You Enjoy Learning

To have a career in addiction counseling, you must be dedicated to your educational growth. To become an addiction counselor, you must hold — at a minimum — a bachelor's degree that includes supervised, clinical hours. Some common degree offerings for those interested in this field include bachelors’ in psychology, sociology or counseling.

Online Master’s in Addiction Counseling

In pursuing an online Master of Science in Addiction Counseling, there are some things you should know about the process in earning this kind of degree. Here is an overview of the online master’s degree in addiction counseling:

  • Accredited hours within graduate degree program

  • Financial aid, grants and veterans benefits available for those who qualify

  • Full-time degree program (24 months) alongside part-time job options

  • Orientation courses provided

  • Residencies on campus combined with interactive and classroom instruction

  • Start dates of convenience including May, January and September

While you are pursuing this degree, you could also be working toward helping individuals and developing strategies to make their lives better. The Master of Science in Addiction Counseling at Grand Canyon University follows a specific and detailed curriculum that is developed to benefit students using fact-based assessments within substance abuse. This degree is offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and combines hands-on classroom instruction with professional, real-world experience. Through this curriculum, students will discover and observe the following:

  • Professional ethics and methods

  • Counseling theories and principles
  • Chemical dependency within adults and adolescents

  • Psychopharmacology
  • Clinical analysis

Most of the coursework in this advanced degree program is conducted online with our highly qualified instructors. A few of the courses include:

  • Introduction to Addictions and Substance Abuse

  • Co-occurring Disorders in Counseling

  • Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling

Within these online courses, students will learn about:

  • The stages, processes and effects of substance use disorders, as well as the professional’s role in prevention, intervention and aftercare

  • Screening, assessing and treating individuals with co-occurring disorders and associated strategies for risk management
  • Theories of multicultural counseling, multicultural competencies and strategies for working with diverse populations, including immigrants and refugees
  • Major counseling theories and principles, including existential psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral, reality therapy/choice therapy and rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT)

Earn a Specialized Addiction Studies Degree

By earning a particular addiction studies degree, students can prepare for a specialized career. One example is the Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders degree. In becoming a mental health counselor, this field helps support children of the next generation and develops a foundation of knowledge and clinical skills that can be used to benefit younger individuals.

Many of the courses in this degree program were created to meet the academic requirements established by the following entities:

  • National Board for Certified Counselors for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential

  • Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) credential

  • Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners

By earning this degree, you can have a positive influence on young children’s lives by learning how to identify and treat substance use disorders with effective communication and counsel.

Careers in Addiction Counseling

There are countless and diverse career opportunities for substance abuse and addiction counselors. These careers require certified degrees based on subjects within the counseling field. Here are some substance abuse and addition careers you can pursue:

  • Advanced alcohol and drug counselor: These counselors have a master’s degree in the health behavioral field. They have keen knowledge of substance abuse disorders, but they also understand and communicate with people who have mental health disorders.
  • Mental health counselor: These professionals work with individuals and groups of people who struggle with mental health and offer counseling to act as an aid for problems, struggles and difficult situations. More specifically, these individuals need help dealing with addictions, substance abuse, family or parenting situations, marital problems and suicidal thoughts.

  • Social service manager: These managers meet with influential members of the community to help solicit funding and support for their programs. They also coordinate and manage programs or organizations that help provide support for the well-being of the public.

  • Co-occurring disorder counselor: These professionals provide support, counsel and treatment to help individuals recover from their addictions.

Skills and Qualifications of an Addiction Counselor

There are many qualifications you can have to pursue a career in addiction counseling. Many of these include educational requirements, but there are also certain character qualities and traits present in successful counselors. Here are some qualifications you should have to pursue a career in addiction counseling:

  • Have a certified counseling degree

  • Obtain supervised clinical practice hours

  • Pass a state or national licensing exam after earning your degree

  • Pass a personal background check including felony and child abuse

Here are some important character traits of successful addiction counselors:

  • Effective at personal communication

  • Good with people and groups

  • Able to make straightforward and difficult decisions at a moment’s notice

  • Effective listener, able to give sound advice and counsel

If you think that a career in addiction counseling could be the right path for you, then consider GCU’s Master of Science in Addiction Counseling program. To learn more about this or our online counseling programs, visit the College of Humanities and Social Sciences or click the green Request More Information button at the top of this page.


1COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on 2020, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.