How to Become a Drug Counselor

A drug counselor, also referred to as a substance abuse counselor, helps people who are suffering from drug addiction. Working with individuals or groups, drug counselors spend as much time as necessary helping addicts until they've overcome the addiction. Drug counselors may also work with the addict's family. The job is not easy, but the rewards are great [source: innerbody].

Here's how to become a drug counselor:


  1. Earn a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma. Take courses such as biology, health, psychology and sociology.
  2. Study in a bachelor's or master's degree program in counseling at a college or university. Courses should include subjects, such as abnormal psychology, anatomy, and individual and group counseling techniques.
  3. Gain practical experience by interning at a clinic, hospital or prevention program.
  4. Obtain certification. Certification requirements vary from state to state, so find out what the requirements are in your state. You can contact the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) for information.
  5. Seek employment at a hospital or clinic. You may be able to continue working at the place where you completed your internship.
  6. Consider becoming an independent drug counselor when you've gained enough experience [source: degreedirectory].