There are a coupe of things to consider about addiction counselor jobs if you are thinking about heading in this career direction. Here are some of the finer points that I have picked up while working in a drug rehab for the past 5 years:
1) Money – the addiction counselors where I work all complain about low pay. This may be tied to the fact that this is a non-profit rehab center. All of these counselors seem to have the appropriate letters after their names, by the way. Most seem to have at least a Master’s degree in something, and have some special form of certification as well. But they do complain about the pay. Just saying.
2) Clients – one thing I can tell you is that if you have never worked in a rehab before, then you need to prepare yourself for the shock of a lifetime when it comes to repeat business. Quite simply, you will not believe how frequently the same people keep coming back through treatment. It is truly shocking if you are not ready for it. Obviously, this could get tedious if you are a counselor, because you will keep seeing many of the same clients continue to screw up, over and over again. I am sure it can be frustrating in some cases.
3) Groups– expect to be part therapist, part teacher in most rehabs. The traditional format seems to be that the counselors will do double duty and run many of the groups. You may be expected to give lectures or run group therapy on a daily basis. This can be tough, especially if you are juggling a bunch of clients that you want to see in a one-on-one basis.
Most therapists that I have worked with seem to really enjoy their job, in spite of all the usual gripes and complaints that I hear. But you have to be a little bit crazy to be able to do this sort of work and keep your sanity. For example, you will probably only have to work for a year or two before you will read about one of your clients passing away in the newspaper. Obviously, a counselor has to be able to deal with that kind of emotional roller coaster that is typical of an addict’s life.
Is it necessary to be in recovery yourself? Some say yes, but others can see the value in having different perspectives. There are some great counselors out there who are not in recovery.