Dr. Cali Estes - The Addictions Academy ®

How Do I Become an Addictions Counselor or Therapist?

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How Do I Become an Addictions Counselor or Therapist?

If you’re interested in becoming an addiction counselor, there is good news. The increase of people seeking treatment is on the rise. Therefore, this job market is also set to increase.

In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for substance use counselors is predicted to grow by 18% by the year 2032.  

So, the demand for a compassionate addiction counselor or therapist will increase over the next few years. This is a great time to become one. So, let’s look at how to become an addiction counselor.

What Is an Addiction Counselor?

Addiction counselors, also known as substance use disorder counselors, are licensed mental health care professionals that help people with addictions recover. 

They work with people to change thought patterns and behaviors that could lead someone back into old addiction behaviors. 

An addictions counselor can work with clients and their families by creating recovery plans tailored to their needs and goals. Addiction counselors need to be passionate and caring individuals who understand the underlying causes of addiction.

What Does an Addiction Counselor Do?

Addiction therapists can work in many different recovery settings. Many work in rehab facilities, hospitals, correctional centers, schools, and military services, or may have their own private practice. 

Some duties that an addiction counselor may have can include:

  • Assess and evaluate clients.
  • Create treatment plans.
  • Stage interventions.
  • Offer education.
  • Offer therapy for clients and their families.
  • Refer clients for jobs and services.
  • Work directly with clients to develop a long-term recovery plan.
  • Work within communities to raise awareness of addiction and offer support.


An addictions counselor needs to have several skills to be efficient in their job working closely with addiction. They should be able to handle stress well and be a good listener. Many addiction therapists are empathetic, and some also live in recovery, so they offer a sense of relatability.

Steps To Become a Certified Addictions Counselor or Therapist

Before you begin your career, you’ll want to research all your state’s requirements. The requirements vary from state to state. You want to ensure you know what you must have before starting.

If you are considering becoming an addiction counselor, the first step is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. A degree in psychology or a related field would help you gain the education you need to thrive as a counselor. Some states may also expect you to complete a master’s degree.

Your next step in most states is to have a license or get a certification. Then, you’ll typically need to pass an exam to get a license.

After you get your educational requirements, you’ll need some experience. In some instances, you will need to work alongside a mentor in the field and help with intakes and other mental health counseling needs. 

Many treatment facilities are also excellent places to get some experience hours logged in. Some states may even require you to attend support group meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or Al-Anon.

After you are licensed and certified, you’ll need to pass a background check.

It’s also important to note that you’ll need to renew your certification and obtain continuing education credits in many states.

The Addictions Academy Offers Certified Addictions Counselor Training

Becoming an addiction therapist is a rewarding career. You get to be at the front line of watching someone begin to get their life back. If you’re ready to become an addiction counselor, you should take an accredited certification course. 

At The Addictions Academy, we offer certified addictions counselor training that gives you all the education you need to learn how to counsel clients in all areas of addiction confidently. Reach out to The Addictions Academy today to learn more about our certified addictions counselor training.


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