Interested in a career as a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor? Here’s what you need to know

What does a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor do?

An estimated 1 in 20 Australians has a problem with alcohol and/or drug addiction. One in 6 Aussies drinks to dangerous levels. Drug and Alcohol Counsellors provide support, treatment and encouragement to people dealing with addiction.

Their job is an important one, for the addict and the wider community. Drug and Alcohol Counsellors (also called Alcohol and Other Drugs or AOD Counsellors) develop strategies and guide addicts through the recovery process, so they can enjoy a better quality of life.

Counsellors work in a range of settings:

  • One-on-one
  • Rehabilitation or detention facilities
  • Telehealth (phone or internet Counselling)
  • Community education programs

What kind of person makes a good Drug and Alcohol Counsellor?

As well as the physical and psychological damage done by drugs and alcohol, dependence can trigger – and be triggered by – social, employment, relationship, and financial problems.

Alcohol and drug abuse is a complex sphere. AOD Counsellors are not only dealing with the visible problem of dependence in most cases, but also the underlying mental illness that feeds the addiction. Counsellors are insightful and emotionally intelligent people, with traits like:

  • Compassion
  • Resilience
  • Good listener
  • Problem solver
  • Independent
  • Strategic

Many of the 1,600+ Drug and Alcohol Counsellors working around Australia have lived experience. This helps them to be patient, empathetic and persistent, and ultimately provide the level of care required to make a difference.

How can you become a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor?

The direct path: Study AOD Counselling

Perhaps the most popular route to becoming a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor is by jumping feet-first into a Certificate IV or Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs. These specialist courses establish strong foundational skills in Counselling and mental health, then focus on addressing alcohol and drug dependency.

You will learn how to assess client needs, communicate effectively, to develop effective recovery strategies.

The indirect path: Become a qualified Counsellor

Some people start their career as a Counsellor, Youth Worker, or Mental Health Worker and later choose to concentrate on AOD Counselling. While this offers the benefit of a broad perspective on mental illness, the trade-off is missing out on those specialised skills and insights gained during an AOD course.

There is no right or wrong: the best path to becoming a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor is the one that suits your interests and career goals. Whichever path you take will be helping individuals and the community to reduce the harm of drugs and alcohol, and that’s what is most important.

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