A teen drug abuse counselor offers vital support and listening for adolescents who are struggling with substance abuse. Whether it’s alcohol, prescription pills or anything other addictive substances, a teen drug abuse counselor should forge an understanding and sympathetic relationship with their patients that allows them to get the heart of the problem and help treat their addiction.
As a counselor, you must have an understanding of the individual needs of your patients. This means awareness of each patient’s specific history and how it’s currently affecting them. A counselor should also have a comprehensive understanding of their patient’s medical history, ranging from physical to mental ailments, and how it might factor into their substance dependencies.
A counselor must always give consideration to a patient in all the stages of the recovery process. Organizational skills are key for this job, as you’ll need to keep track of a patient’s progress over time and regularly submit reports on the current state of your patients. Even if a patient has been showing progress compared to when they were initially treated, a counselor still needs to make sure they’re giving all patients due consideration.
Being a counselor also means being prepared for emergencies. Even if you aren’t currently in your office, you should be prepared for any possible crisis pertaining to your patients. If a patient calls you due to a mental crisis or drug-related issue, you should be able to calmly and clearly intervene and direct them to essential resources if you’re not able to specifically accommodate them at the time.
Treating addiction can require medication. Counselors don’t have the authority to prescribe medication; only psychiatrists do. If your patients are taking prescription medication, you should be in contact with their provider to ensure proper treatment is being given to your patient. If your patients are being treated by a variety of professionals in your facility, it’s important to have constant and clear communication between all parties to ensure the best treatment possible. In live in teen drug abuse treatment centers like Diamond Ranch Academy, the school has licensed therapists and doctors on staff.
The responsibilities of a counselor deepen at an in-patient facility, where patients live as residents. For an in-patient facility, you may be required additional duties such as providing clients with transportation to certain appointments and looking after certain personal belongings.
As a counselor, you should have a commitment to helping your patients, but you must uphold the integrity of your workplace. You must absolutely not commit any dishonest acts on behalf of your patients, such as falsifying toxicology reports. Doing so could irreparably damage the reputation of your facility and would be grounds for immediate termination.
Average Pay: $30,000-50,000/year
Typical Requirements/Experience: A teen drug abuse counselor is typically required to have a master’s degree in a relevant field, such as counseling or social work. They are also typically required to have at least several years of experience in working with adolescents and those with substance abuse and mental health issues. Recruiters also emphasize reliability, professionalism, and commitment in this field.