Behavioral Health/Addictions and Substance Use Disorders

Job Outlook

Due to the number of persons needing treatment for chemical dependency, the job outlook for chemical dependency/substance abuse therapists is very good.

Learn more about a career in Addictions and Substance Use Disorders: U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Earnings

Pay range varies greatly for chemical dependency/substance therapists based on a wide variety of factors. The following are only pay range estimates and cannot be considered a guarantee of pay rate or employment. Pay rates can be higher or lower.

Licensed Substance Abuse Technician $27,000 to $32,000 per year
Licensed Associate Substance Abuse Counselor $27,000 to $32,000 per year
Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor $28,000 to $50,000 per year

 *Note: Chemical dependency therapy is a social service field and pay is often on the lower end when compared with other employment opportunities with similar educational requirements.

A day in the job

Role of Chemical Dependency Therapists
  • Assist chemically dependent persons in their recovery process
  • Interview and counsel individuals, families, and groups
  • Write, maintain and update treatment records and assessments
  • Have knowledge of how chemical addiction affects the lives of individuals and families
  • Have knowledge of current counseling theories
  • Have knowledge of the effects of chemical use on human biological systems and human development
  • Know the principles of various self-help groups: Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-anon, Al-ateen, and Narcotics Anonymous, etc.
  • Have knowledge of adjustment issues of Adult Children of Alcoholics
  • Have knowledge of sexual dysfunction resulting from the effects of chronic chemical abuse
  • Have knowledge of physiological and psychosocial factors on recovery and relapse
  • Have knowledge of local chemical dependency and behavioral health treatment providers
  • Know how to interface between the legal/criminal justice system and service providers
  • Know how to interface on behalf of the client with medical and insurance providers

Work Setting

Addictions and Substance Use Disorders therapists work in a variety of settings:
  • Government agencies
  • Private and public behavioral health agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Halfway houses
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • DUI
  • Education programs
  • Prevention programs

Career Possibilities

Since substance abuse affects the lives of so many people in so many ways, there is a critical need for people trained in chemical dependency to work in many fields of employment which may include:
  • Human resources
  • Civil courts
  • Criminal justice
  • Education
  • Social-service case managers & caseworkers
  • Welfare services
  • Adolescent & child services

A background in chemical dependency also provides a great educational start for people planning to continue their education in: law enforcement, law, medicine, nursing, education, social work, counseling and psychology.