The next time you sit on a park-bench to eat a sandwich, take a closer look at all the people walking by. Chances are, many people are struggling with an addiction problem, whether they are aware of it yet or not.
Recent research has revealed that millions of people suffer from substance abuse every year. In fact, in 2015/16, around 1 in 12 adults between the age of 16 to 59 in the UK and Wales, had used an illegal drug in the past year. This corresponds to 2.7 million people.
Addiction and Substance Abuse
Substance abuse is the habitual use of a mind-altering substance, either alcohol or drugs. Although most abusers may think they are enjoying the temporary benefits of these substances, the truth is they have long-term harmful effects for the user.
Abusing substances such as drugs and alcohol will often affect a person’s mind as well. The person suffering from this form of abuse will often act unlike themselves. For example, somebody who isn’t normally short-tempered may suddenly exhibit violent behaviour under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What does it take to be an Addiction/ Substance Abuse Counsellor?
There are many educational courses that lead to great careers in the field of Addiction Counselling. Like most career fields, there is a relationship between the amount of education and training you acquire, the salary, independence, and job responsibility.
A college or university level degree is usually the first step for students who wish to attain the necessary skills and certification to counsel individuals with substance abuse problems. They can then progress to Masters and Doctorate degrees with further study and experience.
Although there are many certificate programmes available for Substance Abuse Counselling, Addiction Counselling or Drug & Alcohol Abuse Studies, the academic route isn’t the only way to pursue a career as an Addiction or Substance Abuse Counsellor. People with significant experience dealing with addicts and abusers can apply their wealth of knowledge towards helping others suffering from addiction.
Ex-abusers or former addicts are also in a good position to counsel addicts because they have first-hand experience with the pain and difficulty of trying to stop the habit. They can share their success stories or act as sponsors to other addicts. Former addicts could also give motivational talks at conventions and Drugs Anonymous meetings.
Volunteers can also help by listening, providing alternative routines, and gathering support groups.
Why Do We Need Addiction or Substance Abuse Counsellors?
There is no doubt that substance abuse is a growing problem today. People who suffer from addiction usually have other problems like body ailments and psychological trauma. Counsellors can help abusers break away from the cycle by breaching the barriers of guilt and shame that often inhibit positive change. They can give them strength to overcome their obstacles, offer advice on different treatment pathways, and even offer prescription medication.
There is always room for more counsellors and volunteers in substance abuse circles. Your perspective and experiences are unique and sure to be welcome in your local community.