Substance Abuse Counselors in demand as Drug Abuse Rises in The US

May 03, 2016

Image of Prescription drugs and alcohol next to a lady on bed

According to The World Health Organization, substance abuse is any harmful or hazardous use of a psychoactive substance. This includes illegal drugs, of course, but it also includes legal substances used in irresponsible ways—such as alcohol and prescription medication. Use of almost any psychoactive substance can lead to something called dependence syndrome. Dependence syndrome is a cluster of different behaviors including behavioral, cognitive and physiological actions. Substance abuse and dependence syndrome usually includes a unquenchable desire to take the substance of choice, difficulties in controlling use, giving a higher priority to use than other obligations and desires, increased tolerance and in some cases problems with withdrawing.

Image of a young adult crying due to Alcohol Problems

The Effects of Substance Abuse on Families

The most important thing to realize about substance abuse is that it affects other people, not just the individual who takes the drugs or drinks the alcohol. Substance abuse can have an adverse effect on the entire family, and potentially friends and other loved ones. When a member of the household takes drugs, or abuses alcohol, it can be hard to trust that person to follow through on obligations. Maintaining employment or staying in school is also often a problem. Even if the user manages to hide the use of substances, it can still impact others as there will be a change in behavior and attitude. Also, a home where drug or alcohol abuse is rampant is often likely to be a home where other criminal behavior occurs. Finally, the health problems that drug or alcohol use cause do have a long term impact on everyone. Should a child have to grow up without a parent because of drugs?

The Stats Behind Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a serious problem. But how serious? Consider these stats, provided from

The abuse of substances that include alcohol, tobacco, prescription, and illegal drugs costs approximately $137 billion in direct health care expenses in the United States each year. As of 2012, 13.2% of Americans age 12 or older had used illicit drugs. Prescription drug abuse is a big problem in the U.S. In 2012; there were 33,175 drug overdose deaths (unintentional); 53% of those deaths were linked to prescription drug use.

72% of deaths attributable to prescription drugs were related to opioid medications. Alcohol can be a problem too. Alcohol-related deaths are the third largest preventable cause of death in America. Around 88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes. The worst part about these stats is that they are only part of the story. The entire story of substance abuse is much longer, more detailed and can be quite frightening.

Effects of Drug Abuse and Rise in Demand for Substance Abuse Counselors explained in an infographic


Helping End the Crisis

Facing this problem head on is key. Scientists are working to learn more about how addiction works and how they can fight it. The information learned through testing and research is valuable and cannot be dismissed. Yet, there are other ways to fight the problem and work to end the crisis. One of the most beneficial and potentially useful are substance abuse counselors.

Career as Substance Abuse Counselors and What to expect?

Distressed woman having counseling

Substance Abuse Counselors are trained professionals who works with those suffering from addictions or reliance on illegal drugs, legal drugs, alcohol or even other substances. Some psychologists have undergone the training to become counselors, but not every psychologist is prepared to deal with substance abuse cases. Trained substance abuse counselors listen to the clients’ problems, discuss potential solutions and serve as a sounding board for any concerns. The substance abuse counselor has knowledge and training to help these clients not to engage in addictive behavior.

Substance abuse counselors may work in a rehabilitation facility, a hospital, a school, with a group treatment program or work one-on-one with clients. The goal is always the same—to encourage the client to seek positive ways to enrich their lives and to move away from the addictive behavior. The best thing about choosing substance abuse counseling is that each counselor is different. Having these distinct counseling personalities available means that every person who suffers from substance abuse can find the counselor that meets his or her needs on a personal and a professional level.

Luckily, there are opportunities to treat addictions of all types—for the person who is ready to make a change. Addiction counseling is just one of many types of treatment that has been shown to work. There is a brighter future ahead as we learn more about the science behind addiction. Additionally, counselors are learning more and more about how to work with families and friends of those suffering from addiction too. If you have someone near or dear to you that is currently struggling, do not lose hope—the future is bright, and it is closer than many may think!

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