What is the Employment Outlook for Addictions Counseling?

| Staff Writers

Wondering about the future employment outlook for addictions counseling? The United States Department of Labor predicts plentiful job opportunities for addictions counselors up until at least the year 2024. Significant numbers of job opportunities will particularly be available for candidates who have earned their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, although it is possible to qualify for some counseling jobs with only a high school diploma.

New addictions counselor positions are becoming available at a rate of pace that’s much faster than average, making this occupation an attractive career path for job seekers. Experts at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics website project a future job growth rate of about 22 percent above the status quo.

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Substance abuse is at crisis levels in America. Of critical concern right now is an epidemic of addictions to opioid drugs including Percocet, OxyContin, Fentanyl and heroin; this has resulted in surging numbers of drug overdoses and deaths. In 2015, opioid drugs killed more than 33,000 people. In comparison, almost as many people died in automobile accidents, and heroin killed more people than gun homicides did. There can be no doubt that addictions counselors are needed.

While it’s clear the drug crisis hasn’t abated, the US Department of Labor doesn’t attribute the rise in addiction counselor jobs directly to that. Instead, experts at the Bureau of Labor Statistics attribute the projected increase in addiction counselor positions to a couple of important new trends.

The first related trend is that growing numbers of insurance providers are moving towards covering substance abuse counseling for their patients, prompted by the enacting of federal health insurance laws. This coverage typically was either unavailable or prohibitively expensive before.

The second related trend is that states are now implementing new procedures for dealing with drug-addicted criminals. In the past, costly jail sentences were the norm. Decimated public budgets and cramped prisons are motivating the authorities to look for innovative new solutions. One solution being implemented is that judges are now requiring drug offenders to get substance abuse counseling and treatment. The reasoning is that addicts will be less likely to commit additional crimes if they can manage to overcome their addictions. As a result, addictions counselors’ expertise will be an increasingly critical component of the criminal justice system; more counselors will be needed for the strategy to be effective.

Addiction counseling takes place in a variety of settings. Many addiction counselors work in offices located in community centers, clinics and mental health centers. Some work for doctors’ offices or have their own private practices. Some work in prisons, and this sector of the occupation is particularly poised for strong growth.

If you’re a college student considering a counseling major, a college graduate planning to get an advanced degree or a career-changer looking for a new direction, addictions counseling could be a worthwhile career to pursue. Job availability projections are favorable; not only that, the work is compelling, meaningful and lucrative. Addiction counseling will allow you to earn a living while making a positive contribution your clients’ lives and to society.

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