Addiction and Substance Abuse Social Work

Addiction and Substance Abuse Social Work

Like all careers in social work, a career in addiction and substance abuse social work is ideal for social, investigative, and artistic individuals. Those who enjoy social work the most are people who enjoy teaching and communicating with people, as well as those who enjoy searching for facts and developing creative solutions to complex problems.

There are a few traits that would be invaluable to possess as an addiction and substance abuse social worker. As with any career in social work, it is important to have concern for others, as well as a high level of integrity. Where these social workers may differ, however, is that they must maintain a high level of stress tolerance in dealing with patients, as well as self-control to help maintain composure and keep emotions in check.

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors have a wide range of job responsibilities. These include maintaining client records, individual and group counseling, developing treatment plans, intervening as an advocate in emergency situations, and coordinating counseling efforts with a variety of health professionals.

Here is a more comprehensive list of duties expected out of a substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor.

Education Requirements for an Addiction Social Work Career

The education requirements to become a substance abuse or behavior disorder counselor are wide-ranging. Some counselors have high school diplomas and receive on the job training to gain certification, while others tout master’s, or even doctoral degrees. Of course, having more education allows counselors to perform more services and usually results in higher wages. Furthermore, substance abuse counselors in private practice, in any U.S. state, must have a master’s degree and between 2,000-4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.

In addition to formal education, people looking to become substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors need to consider licensing, certification, and registration. Jobs in the healthcare field typically require practitioners to pass state-mandated exams and to complete continuing education credits every year. Each state varies in its requirements for counselor certification, and licensure in one state usually does not entitle a counselor to work in another state.

Average Salary of an Addiction Social Worker

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average annual salary of a mental health and substance abuse social worker at $44,420, or $21.36 per hour. Of course this salary will vary based on many factors including experience, level of education, industry, and location.

The highest paid industry in this field is home health care services, where substance abuse counselors earn an average annual wage of $62,090, while the second highest is in elementary and secondary schools at $58,320. Below is a list of the top paying states for substance abuse counseling:

  1. Connecticut: $57,740
  2. Wisconsin: $56,300
  3. New Hampshire: $56,100
  4. New Jersey: $54,360
  5. District of Columbia: $54,310

Programs in Addiction and Substance Abuse Social Work