Addiction Counselors

Addiction Counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors.


  • Evaluate clients’ mental and physical health, addiction, or problematic behavior and assess their readiness for treatment
  • Develop, recommend, and review treatment goals and plans with clients and their families
  • Assist clients in developing skills and behaviors necessary to recover from their addiction or modify their behavior
  • Work with clients to identify behaviors or situations that interfere with their recovery
  • Teach clients’ family members about addiction or behavior disorders and help them develop strategies to cope with those problems
  • Refer clients to other resources and services, such as job placement services and support groups
  • Conduct outreach programs to help people identify the signs of addiction and other destructive behavior, as well as steps to take to avoid such behavior

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, earned at the college or university level, is typically the first step for students who wish to acquire the skills and certification needed to counsel individuals with substance abuse problems. The most common major for students pursing substance abuse counseling is in Alcohol & Drug Abuse Studies or Addictions Counseling. After students build a strong foundation in counseling and the behavioral sciences (with a bachelor’s degree) they have an opportunity to focus their academic pursuits on a more specialized area of study. In addition, completing graduate level coursework with a Master’s Degree, or a Doctorate (PhD) degree will provide students with the knowledge and skills required to become a licensed counselor and to work in private practice if they so desire.

Work Environment: Addiction counselors’ work in a wide variety of settings, such as mental health centers, community health centers, prisons, and private practice. Most work full time. he largest number of drug counselors in the BLS survey worked in outpatient care centers. These 17,700 workers averaged $39,180 per year. The second-largest work site for counselors was residential substance abuse facilities, where 16,140 counselors averaged $36,650 in annual pay. Individual and family services was the third-largest employer, with 11,320 counselors averaging $39,540 per year in salary. Local government was fourth, with 6,520 counselors averaging $47,090 annually. General hospitals ranked fifth, with 5,060 counselors averaging $49,250 per year.

Pay: Addiction counselors earn a median average annual salary of $41,030, or $19.73 per hour. The best-paid 10 percent could make $60,220 or more, equal to $28.95 per hour, while the lowest-paid 10 percent made $25,280 or less, the equivalent of $12.16