Addiction Alchemy: Turning Experience Into Careers

When you’re going through addiction treatment services, the people you encounter on your treatment team change your life. Counselors and other professionals who work in addiction treatment services play an invaluable role in helping you stop using alcohol and drugs. They are a support system, and they can help you rebuild your life. You may think about pursuing a career in addiction treatment when you’re in recovery, and it’s often a great match. When you can use your own experiences to help others, it’s fulfilling for you, gives you a unique perspective, and makes you more empathetic to the people you’re working with while you’re working on turning experience into careers.


What to Know About Careers in Recovery

If you’re thinking about a career in addiction treatment services, there are many different paths you can take. One of the most frequently followed paths if you’re also in recovery is working as a substance abuse counselor. This is also called an addiction counselor.

Addiction counselors help people in different ways as they recover from substance use disorders. They work directly with clients and families to provide therapy, counseling, and general guidance. It’s common for counselors to have personally experienced addiction, or in some cases, they have close family members or loved ones who have.

You can become a counselor without certification in some places, but you give yourself more career options if you get certified. To be a certified addiction counselor in most states, you need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, state licensing, and you would have to pass a certification exam.

The National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals has three different types of certifications for addiction counselors. These are:

  • National Certified Addiction Counselor Level I (NCAC I): This is an international, voluntary certification that is designed for professionals who work in substance use disorder fields and want to show the skills they’ve developed through supervised work experience over the years.
  • National Certified Addiction Counselor Level II (NCAC II): This credential can help you advance your career and earning potential. It’s a way to distinguish yourself as a practitioner with specialized skills and training, and it shows that you meet the highest ethical standards in the industry.
  • Master Addiction Counselor (MAC): This indicates you’ve completed a combination of supervised work experience and graduate course work.

If you’re a mental health counselor, you help promote your clients’ overall mental health and mental illness. You train in different therapeutic techniques, and you may be able to work with clients on their substance use disorder and treatment for co-occurring disorders like depression, stress, and anxiety. You could work with clients or patients in a group or individual setting, and you may help with relapse prevention and referrals to services, resources, and support groups. While an addiction counselor is the most popular type of position in addiction recovery, there are others.


Why Are People in Recovery Good Treatment Counselors?

Providers in addiction treatment services have a challenging role. If you’ve gone through your battle with addiction, you might make a great counselor or another type of treatment professional for the following reasons:

  • You have personal experience that helps you understand more clearly what people are going through. You know what it feels like to be the person struggling with the weight of addiction, and that can help you come from a non-judgmental place of empathy. While great treatment specialists may not have gone through dependence, it is valuable to have the insight of experience that you can’t get from education or training alone.
  • As someone who has gone through addiction, treatment programs, and recovery, you’re likely going to have more credibility in the eyes of your clients; because It’s hard for people to listen to what you say if they don’t think they can relate to you.
  • You’re in an excellent position to build a sense of trust between yourself and your clients. Without that trust, having an effective relationship is complicated.
  • If you’ve gone through substance abuse treatment and you’re working to help others, you can be an inspiration. Someone can look to you and know that they too can be in recovery and live a thriving life, even though it might not feel like it at the time.
  • You may have resources in the community that has helped you, and you’re able to connect clients with those.
  • Family members are deeply affected by their loved ones’ obsession. You can provide a sense of hope not only to your clients themselves but to their families.

There aren’t just benefits for the people you work with and their families. There are benefits for you on a personal level to pursue this type of career. It’s meaningful, valuable work that will allow you to stay connected to the recovery community. That can keep you on your sobriety path as you’re helping others.



Other Careers in Addiction Treatment Services

There are many types of jobs where you might help people on their path to recovery, and some require more education and training than others.

Examples include:

  • Leadership roles: There are positions within behavioral health care treatment facilities, including medical directors, clinical directors, and executive directors.
  • Care coordinator: A clinical care coordinator will make sure that each of the different components of a person’s treatment is working well together and there’s a collaboration among members of the treatment team.
  • Clinical therapists: These professionals can work in treatment centers, residential treatment programs, hospitals, schools, and private practices. Increasingly, clinical therapists are also working through telehealth services for rehab centers.
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor: The LMHC career path requires that you have a master’s degree, thousands of clinical hours of experience, and you have to pass an exam.
  • Nurses: Nurses can work in behavioral health treatment, particularly helping patients through detox. Patients can also monitor and treat patients who are taking medicines or who have co-occurring physical health conditions.
  • Behavioral health technicians: You usually need a bachelor’s degree for this position, but not licensing. You help with daily tasks, and you fulfill the orders of the doctors and clinical staff.
  • Social workers: A social worker helps people who are in treatment and also well beyond. They work to connect clients with the community resources that will improve their chances of a successful long-term recovery. To be a social worker, you typically need to have your master’s degree and state licensing.
  • Administrative roles: There are quite a few administrative positions in behavioral health and treatment. These include operations, marketing, finance, and human resources. You might not work as directly with clients, but you still play an essential role in helping people who need treatment.


Get on Track

When you’ve experienced addiction, being able to take what you went through and help others is so rewarding for you and the people you help. You’re in a unique position that might allow you to turn what were likely the worst experiences in your life into something beneficial and possibly save somebody else’s life. Call 855-953-1345 today and let the trained team of experts at Opus Health help get you to that point.


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