Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description, Duties, and Responsibilities

By | September 10, 2023
Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description
Substance abuse counselors help individuals addicted to alcohol or drugs overcome it and regain their lives.

This post provides detailed information on the substance abuse counselor job description, including the duties, tasks, and responsibilities they typically perform.

It also highlights the major requirements that you may be expected to fulfill to be hired for the substance abuse counselor role by most employers/recruiters.

What Does a Substance Abuse Counselor Do?

Substance abuse counselors play an essential role in helping individuals overcome drug and alcohol addiction.

The substance abuse counselor job description entails treating patients with chemical dependency on narcotics by identifying the root cause of abuse and assisting them with progression to sobriety.

In performing their duties, these counselors schedule therapy sessions for patients to discuss the motive behind their substance abuse condition.

They listen to clients closely to determine the type and severity of an abuse.

They also interview patients to identify situations that trigger the abuse.

Substance abuse counselors encourage and guide patients through the recovery process by proffering recommendations on best ways to avert abuse triggers.

They develop treatment plans effective in dealing with an addictive behavior, and also teach clients coping mechanisms and healthy behaviors that can replace the use of alcohol or drugs.

Usually, counselors who are experts in substance abuse set up a support network that consists of caring individuals that can help patients through the process of recovery.

They hold weekly or bi-weekly appointments with clients to track the progress of treatment and encourage patients to resist urge to relapse.

Their work description also involves organizing group therapies for alcohol and narcotic addicts to help reduce the overwhelming effect of being alone in a situation.

As part of their responsibilities, substance abuse counselors provide addiction-prevention resources to the community by organizing public outreach to educate people on risks associated with alcohol and drug abuse.

They collaborate with the family of clients to monitor and track patient recovery process.

They also assist clients in reestablishing their career or finding new jobs.

Evaluating client recovery process and treatment plan to identify the need for possible adjustment is also a part of the substance abuse counselor description.

The role also entails creating and maintaining an up-to-date patient profile, as well as recording of treatment progress.

These counselors may also administer and regulate the intake of methadone by heroin addicts.

To work as a substance abuse counselor requires a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, or sociology, or in a similar field.

To succeed on the job the major qualities you will need include listening, compassion, and communication skills.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description Example/Template

Substance abuse counselors perform various functions in assisting individuals addicted to alcohol and drugs come free of it.

Here is a job description example that highlights major tasks, duties, and responsibilities usually performed by counselors specializing in substance abuse cases:

  • Develop and implement treatment plans to help clients overcome addiction
  • Listen and interview clients to identify abuse triggers and suggest ways to suppress an addictive behavior
  • Teach patients coping mechanisms and best ways to prevent a relapse
  • Liaise with clients’ families to develop strategies effective in dealing with addiction problems
  • Provide reports to update court on the progress of a treatment
  • Lead group therapy sessions for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Motivate individuals to desist from an addictive behavior and accept treatment
  • Assist clients in maintaining, reestablishing, or finding a job
  • Help patients setup a support network required in overcoming an addiction
  • Track clients’ recovery process to identify the need for treatment plan adjustment
  • Administer and regulate intake of methadone by heroin addicts
  • Teach individuals how to recognize substance abuse in their friends and family
  • Hold periodic therapy sessions with clients to prevent recidivism
  • Organize campaigns and outreach to educate the public on the ills associated with substance abuse
  • Participate in educational workshops to identify new techniques of resolving substance abuse.

Requirements – Skills, Abilities, and Knowledge – for Substance Abuse Counselor Job

If you are interested in the substance abuse counselor career, the following requirements are what you need to have to qualify to apply for the role in most health facilities:

  • Education and Training: To become a counselor on substance abuse, you require a Bachelor’s degree in psychology or sociology, or in a related discipline. Some employers may require substance abuse counselors to have a Master’s degree in any of the aforementioned fields. These counselors are required to pass licensing exam in order to obtain licensure for practice
  • Compassion: Counselors are empathic towards individuals dealing with alcohol or drug addiction problem
  • Listening Skills: They pay attention to clients’ complaints during therapy sessions in order to identify abuse triggers
  • Communication Skill: They are adept at interacting with clients to proffer recommendations useful in addressing dependency issues.


If you need to create a job description for the substance abuse counselor position, you can quickly make one by applying the sample copy provided in this post.

When hiring for the role, the work description you create can help you attract the best counselor around.

The information about the duties and responsibilities of substance abuse counselors given in this post is also beneficial to individuals who are looking to get into the career. They will gain more knowledge about what the job entails.