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What is Substance Abuse Counseling?
Are you considering enrolling in an addiction counseling degree program in New Hampshire? This major is ideal for those driven to provide services and assistance to people addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Professionals in this field often enjoy sustained job security, decent pay, and opportunities to make a difference in the lives of their patients.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is expected to increase by 23% from 2020 to 2030. This is much faster than the average for all occupations and will add an average of 41,000 new jobs openings nationwide each year. This surge is primarily due to growing demand for qualified addiction counselors as state legal systems move towards sentencing with addiction treatment rather than time in jail, where appropriate. The profession will also need new professionals to replace those who retire or transfer to new occupations.
Addiction counselors assist people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. This often entails using numerous techniques to help them manage the various physical and psychological difficulties that accompany substance dependencies. These professionals may also serve as advocates for those with addictions by providing information and insight about the condition to family, friends, and community members. Notably, addiction counselors cannot prescribe medications to their patients.
Daily duties and responsibilities can vary significantly, but most are responsible for assessing the needs of their patients and preparing them for treatment. Other common tasks include creating and reviewing treatment plans, managing goals, and helping patients to develop more positive skills and behaviors. They may also coordinate treatment with other medical and mental health professionals when appropriate.
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Online Addiction Counseling Education in New Hampshire
The educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry is the third largest in New Hampshire. It accounts for $9.8 billion in revenue each year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the state employed 2,080 substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in May 2021. The annual mean wage for professionals in the state was $47,610. Notably, this is below New Hampshire’s annual mean wage of $59,270, as reported for all occupations.
There are numerous colleges and universities in New Hampshire, many of which offer counseling degrees with concentrations related substance use and abuse. While prospective students may be tempted to enroll in online programs, this may put graduates at a disadvantage. Distance learning offered scheduling flexibility, but institutions in the state will be more familiar with important laws and regulations regarding certification and licensure. It is possible to gain the necessary credentials after attending schools outside of New Hampshire, but it can make the process more complicated.
Additionally, local colleges and universities often create curriculums that specifically address topics that are pertinent to potential employers in the region. They also tend to have established relationships with companies and organizations nearby, which can make it easier for student to obtain internships and graduates to gain professional employment.
While addiction counselors should be prepared to work with patients from all demographics, some prefer to specialize in the treatment of a specific population type. Common examples include teenagers, adults, veterans, or people with disabilities. Most work in individual and family service centers, hospitals, or residential substance abuse facilities. Overall, the profession can be extremely rewarding, but there are some potential drawbacks. The schedule can be demanding and some find the work emotionally draining. It’s also common for these professionals to work evenings, nights, and/or weekends.
Most addiction counseling professionals in New Hampshire must have some amount of higher education. College and universities in the state offer programs at associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, as well as some graduate certificates. While it is possible to find employment in the field without earning a degree, the best-paying jobs in the state often go to those who are most educated.
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Online Associate Degree in Addiction Counseling (AS)
Associate degrees related to addiction counseling generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately two years to complete. Part-time students, however, may require addition time to meet graduation requirements, which are comprised of both general education and subject-specific classes. Students can expect to receive instruction in the fundamentals of patient care and treatment. Other common topics covered include theories of counseling, case management, multicultural counseling, psychology, and family and group counseling.
This type of degree is optimal for those seeking an introduction to the field and who want to pursue entry-level employment as soon as possible. Some of the jobs commonly available to graduates include human services assistants, halfway house administrative assistances, and adolescent counselors.
Alternatively, those with associate degrees can choose to transfer their credits to four-year academic institutions. Many colleges and universities accept between 60 and 90 hours of coursework from other accredited schools. This is enough for students to enter as juniors instead of freshmen.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Addiction Counseling (BS)
Bachelor’s degrees in addiction counseling generally consist of 120 credit hours of coursework, which takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. Part-time students may two to four additional years to meet graduation requirements. As with associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees are comprised of both general education and major-specific classes.
Curriculums will vary, but some common course offerings include:
- Group and Individual Counseling
- Social Research Methods
- Diagnosis of Chemical or Behavioral Dependency
- Psychological Evaluations and Assessments
- Pharmacology and Psychopharmacology
This type of degree is generally considered the minimum standard for professionals in the field. Instead of pursuing employment, however, many graduates opt to enroll in master’s degree programs so that they can receive full licensure. Institution requirements vary, but prospective students should be prepared to meet minimum grade point average (GPA) requirements, as well as provide Graduate Examination Record (GRE) scores.
Those interested in addiction counseling should be aware that there are several other majors that allow students to select concentrations in addiction and substance abuse. In some cases, students might be better served by enrolling in psychology, sociology, clinical social work, or mental health counseling degrees with this specialty instead.
Online Master's Degree in Addiction Counseling (MS)
Master’s degrees in addiction counseling generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately two years to complete. Program specifics vary, but most are comprised of classes that focus solely on information related directly to the field. Students can expect to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to utilize various counseling approaches and research methods. Field work is often necessary, with many institutions requiring capstone project presentations prior to graduation.
Potential course offerings include:
- Testing and Assessment
- Human Growth and Development
- Addiction Prevention and Intervention
- Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling
- Psychopathology and Personality Disorders
- Building Your Ideal Private Practice
Graduates will meet the minimum education requirement for New Hampshire’s Master Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (MLADC) credential. While employment opportunities a vary, master’s degrees often lead to full licensure, more opportunities, better job security, and higher pay.
Online PhD Degree in Addiction Counseling (PhD)
Doctorate degrees in addiction counseling generally consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours, which takes full-time students five to seven years to complete. These programs typically provide students with comprehensive assessments of the social and cultural causes behind addiction. They are research-oriented and require students to write and defense dissertations prior to graduation.
Class titles are likely to vary significantly from institution to institution, but some common examples include:
- Epidemiology of Drug and Substance Abuse
- History of Addiction and Human Behavior
- Prevention of Chemical Abuse in Childhood
- Group Psychotherapy Techniques and Treatment Methods
This type of degree is rarely required for most addiction counseling credentials and jobs in New Hampshire. It is most ideal for individuals interested in research and academia, but graduates may also qualify for other leadership jobs in the field, leadership positions, and/or postsecondary educator roles.
Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in New Hampshire
The first step in becoming an addiction counselor in New Hampshire is identifying your ultimate career goals. Your aspirations are likely to dictate the type and amount of education necessary, as well as which professional credentials you will need.
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It’s important to realize that all 50 states and the District of Columbia require chemical dependency counselors with private practices to be licensed. The Board of Licensing for Alcohol and Other Drug Use Professionals oversees the licensure process for candidates in New Hampshire.
The board regulates the following credentials:
- Certified Recovery Support Worker (CRSW)
- Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC)
- Master Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (MLADC)
- Licensed Clinical Supervisor (LCS)
Each credential has its own unique requirements. Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LADCs), for example, must have undergraduate degrees, while Master Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (MLADCs) require master’s degrees. Those seeking the Certified Recovery Support Worker (CRSW) credential, however, only need high school diplomas or the equivalent.
CRSWs candidates have the fewest requirements. In addition to the education requirements mentioned above, they must possess the ability to read and write in English. Additionally, they need 500 hours of paid or volunteer work experience and 46 hours of education covering relevant topics. CRSW applicants are also expected to pass an examination administered by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium / Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (IC&RC).
In addition to the education requirements mentioned above, LADC candidates must also complete 270 hours of alcohol and drug use education, as well as between 4,000 and 6,000 supervised work experience hours. Additionally, 300 hours of supervised practical training within the degree-granting program is necessary. Applicants are also required to pass testing procedures of a nationally recognized credentialing entity specified by the board.
MLADCs candidates have even more expectations. They must hold a current LADC license or pass the testing procedures as identified by the board. Additionally, prospective MLADCs have to complete 300 hours of alcohol and drug use education, 300 hours of supervised practical training, and 3,000 hours of clinically supervised post-master’s degree work experience in the treatment of substance use and co-occurring disorders.
Licensed Clinical Supervisors (LCSs) must hold a current license as MLADCs or LADCs, as these professionals are responsible for providing supervision. They must have 10,000 hours of experience as an alcohol and drug counselor, as well as 4,000 hours of experience as clinical supervisors supervising professionals providing alcohol and drug counseling. Additionally, 200 hours of face-to-face clinical supervision is required. LCSs also require 30 hours of training in clinical supervision covering assessment, evaluation, management, administration, and professional responsibility. Finally, they must pass testing procedures of a national recognized credentialing entity specified by the board.
Careers for Addiction Counseling Graduates
While graduates from addiction counseling degree programs in New Hampshire often pursue careers in counseling, there are a number of other related professions available in the state. Career specifics vary, with salaries and responsibilities ranging significantly. Some of the most commonly available employment opportunities include the following.
- Behavioral Therapist
Behavioral therapists provide treatment to patients who have been diagnosed with mental health disorders. Using various behavioral techniques, they work to modify and replace negative behaviors. Treatments may be provided at home, in the community, and in clinical environments. These professionals also closely monitor progress and adjust as necessary. According to PayScale, behavioral therapists make an average base hourly rate of $17.44, which translates to approximately $41,650 per year.
- Career Counselor
Career counselors assist their clients in identifying and pursuing their preferred careers. These professionals often utilize various personality, interests, and aptitude assessments to direct career-related recommendations. They may also research and explain education requirements, as well as offering various career-related services, such as resume evaluations and mock interviews. Additionally, career counselors provide relevant information to professionals interested in transitioning into new fields. According to PayScale, career counselors make an average base salary of $46,450 per year.
- Clinical Social Worker
Clinical social workers provide psychosocial evaluations and therapy for individuals who require extra mental or emotional support. They regularly coordinate patient care interactions and negotiate with third party groups in order to secure additional resources. These professionals can be found in many different settings such as hospitals, mental health clinics, residential nursing facilities, home healthcare companies, or substance abuse treatment centers. According to PayScale, clinical social workers make an average base salary of $57,600 per year.
- Grief Counselor
Grief counselors provide assistance to people who have recently lost loved ones. They help their clients work through issues commonly associated with grief in healthier and more productive ways through guidance and support. These professionals may also provide direct counseling treatments when needed. According to PayScale, grief counselors make an average base salary of $46,850 per year.
- Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors diagnose and treat mental health problems and illnesses. They provide one-on-one and/or group therapy sessions to help patients work through or resolve existing issues. These professionals often specialize in particular areas of treatment, such as addiction. According to PayScale, mental health counselors make an average base salary of $44,250 per year.
- Residential Counselor
Residential counselors provide various counseling services at live-in facilities. They may offer both individual and group counseling to residents in order to address conflicts and/or crisis situations. These professionals also coordinate care for patients of all types within the facility, from those with addictions and disabilities to the elderly and trouble youth. According to PayScale, residential counselors make an average base hourly rate of $14.46, or approximately $39,700 per year.
- School Counselor
School counselors provide knowledge and support to high school students in order to help them achieve their personal, academic, social, and development goals. They often provide assistance and support during challenging situations, referring other support services when necessary. These professionals may also meet with parents to ensure the best possible outcomes for students. According to PayScale, school counselors make an average base salary of $51,350 per year.
- Sports Psychologist
Sports psychologists work with athletes, coaches, and referees to prepare them for the various mental and physical demands associated with athletic training and competition. They often assist athletes in dealing with the consequences of sustaining injuries, as well as provide support to referees and coaches coping with the stresses of their positions. According to PayScale, sports psychologists make an average base salary of $72,250 per year.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Board of Licensing for Alcohol and Other Drug Professionals. New Hampshire Office of Professional Licensure and Certification
- Licensed, Certified, and Registered Occupations in New Hampshire 2021. New Hampshire Employment Society (NHES)