Marfil, Princess - Addictions Counsellor

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[edit] Job Title

Addictions Counsellor

[edit] General Overview

Addictions Counsellors provide support to families, individuals and groups who are or have been affected by behavioural or chemical addictions. Addictions Counsellors have an understanding of the addictive process (drug and alcohol addictions) and apply their expertise to helping families, individual and communities overcome addictions through treatment and prevention programs. They provide educational and confidential addictions counselling to individuals. In some cases, Addictions Counsellors will refer individuals to other professionals like doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists or social workers for further cognitive, behavior and medical help. They also promote the benefits of acquiring healthy lifestyles and the advantages of making healthy choices.

[edit] Job Duties and Responsibilities

Responsibilities/Duties are listed below but are not limited to:

  • Meet clients to evaluate their substance problem
  • Work with the client to identify issues to create treatment and goal plans
  • Help clients reestablish their lives in order to find employment (or maintain their careers)
  • Teach clients coping mechanisms and conflict resolution
  • Provide confidential support, education and counseling to clients
  • Provide immediate counselling, grounding and de-escalation for clients in crises
  • Provide community education and support programs
  • Travel to and from the office to meet clients at their homes
  • Provide treatment referrals/work with treatment program coordinators for specific clients


[edit] Typical Workday

A typical work day may require an Addictions Counsellor to move throughout the community in their your own vehicle in this field is an asset. Clients’ health condition exposes an Addictions Counsellor to unsanitary conditions and illness due to lack of personal care from the client. The office will be fast-paced and busy depending on the rate of scheduled and unscheduled clients that day. In the most extreme cases, an Addictions Counsellor may find themselves in high stressful situations when dealing and de-escalating an immediate crisis (e.g., witnessing a client overdose, mentally unstable clients, and high suicide risk clients). A typical workday can initiate a high level of stress for the Addictions Counsellor worker as crises are unpredictable, and their severity varies from client to client. [2][3]

Addictions Counsellor during a typical workday manage and organize the case files of their clients making sure that they are in contact with appropriate third-party services, doctors or clinicians. A typical workday consists of 6 or more clients to counsel and Addictions Counsellors also facilitate group sessions. Individual sessions require the Addictions Counsellor to identify the history of addiction, they work with the client to develop coping skills and make recommendations on a plan of action. In group sessions, Addictions Counsellors are in charge of facilitating conversation within the group and encourage group therapy. [4]

[edit] Education Requirements and Other Qualifications

A Bachelor’s Degree or Master of Arts Degree is highly recommended and must be attained from a recognized university in Canada. After postsecondary school, you can acquire a diploma or certificate specializing in Addictions Counselling in order to be employed in the field. These certification programs are offered at McMaster University (Addiction Certificate and Diploma Programs), Nova Scotia Community College (Addictions Community Outreach), Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (Addiction Counselling), triOS College (Addiction Worker Diploma) and Centennial College (Addiction Studies Certificate Program) just to name a few. A full list of schools in Canada can be found on Upon completion of a college or university level post-graduate study specializing in addictions you can apply to become apply to be an International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counsellor (ICADC) through the Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation. You must have an equivalent of 6000 hours of work (3 years full-time) from the last 5 years of employment and have provided supervised counselling services to people who are medically diagnosed with a drug or alcohol addiction problem. [5]

You must also have 270 documented hours of education in knowledge and skills area of Addictions Counselling. When an individual meets these requirements, you must then pass a written examination based on the “Twelve Core Function” areas in addiction studies. With this, you must submit a Portfolio Application that clearly outlines employment (paid) experience, education and supervised clinical training. You must also include a signed Canon of Ethics accompanied by an application fee. Recertification is a must every two years to remain an ICADC. More information can be found on[6][7]

[edit] Related Skills, Interests and Abilities

Other relevant skills, interests and abilities are listed below but are not limited to:

  • Needs and Risk Assessment
  • Knowing/understanding the impact of trauma
  • Case management/confidential record-keeping
  • Understand the causes/effects of drugs
  • Emergency response skills
  • Effective counselling, verbal, communication and listening skills

The skills listed above are crucial in the proper and correct formulation of case studies. With adequate understanding of addictions, it is the only way an Addictions Counsellor can thoroughly communicate with other health care professionals. The skills above are performed by Addictions Counsellors on a daily basis and it truly prepares them to handle situations that are our of their control, unexpected and highly stressful. For example, effective counselling, verbal, communication and listening skills is a significant factor in developing counsellor-client relationships. It allows Addictions Counsellors to truly bond with their clients on an emotional level. [8][9][10]

These are some of the personal attributes that an Addictions Counsellor should have, but are not limited to:

  • Respectful of others’ situations and background
  • Cultural awareness and sensitivity
  • Excellent self-care skills
  • Empathy
  • Logical Thinker
  • Problem-Solving
  • Time-management
  • Resilient
  • Organized

Without these basic personal attributes listed above, Addictions Counsellors may find themselves struggling with being able to empathize at their maximum for their clients. They must have the ability to adapt their problem-solving skills to fit the need of the clients and immediate situation. Time management is a big skills to master because Addictions Counsellors may be asked to commute from several centre locations within their region while seeing regular and new clients. They need to be able to schedule accordingly in order meet the needs and fulfill time requests from clients. [11][12][13]

[edit] Relevance of Psychology Degree

One concept that the career of as an Addictions Counsellor should be knowledgeable that changes in neurotransmitters and their receptors can have significant negative implications behaviorally and psychologically on the individual affected by substance and drug abuse. For example, an individual who may be addicted to cocaine experiences the high in the increase of dopamine receptors present in the brain. The nucleus accumbens is involved in the reward pathway, and this is where the “high” of a cocaine addiction can be felt. Learning about neurotransmitters and alterations in its production or the brain’s ability to inhibit the overproduction can be detrimental to the individual who has a cocaine addictions any other drug addiction.

Courses offered at Brock University that contribute to understanding of the brain mechanisms and behavioral effects of drug and alcohol addictions are: Brain and Behavior, Stress, Abnormal Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy and Maturation and Development. These courses are beneficial in educating someone who is hoping to get into the field of Addictions Counselling because these classes teach concepts pertaining to the developing brain and how both environmental and genetic make-up can shape the way one learns, remembers and perceives emotion. Drug addictions have a significant role in that it causes detrimental brain alterations.

A psychology concept that ties into addictions is the dopamine hyperactivity theory that states that a high abundance of drug use promotes the increased release of dopamine neurotransmitters that can bind to receptors thus increasing the “feel good” or “rush” from a drug addiction. Once this optimal level is reached, addictions begin to arise when a higher dose of a drug is needed to surpass it.

[edit] Salary Potential

Hourly rates can vary from $14.95-$27.63 an hour. The median hourly rate for Addictions Counsellors is $20.13. The rate of pay does not typically go up for Addictions Counsellors despite the accumulation of experience. As an Addictions Counsellor, you can expect to make $30,065-$59,275 a year in Canada. [14]

[edit] Job Outlook

From 2012 and expected projection for 2016, there will be a 2.1% increase per year in the projected demand for Addictions Counsellors (this % is representative of social service workers as a whole – Addictions Counsellor is a specialization within the field of social service workers). 61.5% of individuals employed in the social service worker field work full-time –the highest demands for this position is for individuals who work in the area of Healthcare and Social Assistance (76%). [15]

[edit] To Know More

To learn more about becoming a Certified Addictions Counsellor in Canada and information on acquiring International certifications visit: This link also provides certification and degree programs offered in other Canadian provinces.

This link provides a list of the different kinds of Addictions Counsellors streams you can take and the Ontario colleges that offer such programs:

[edit] Notes and References

Substance Abuse and Behavioural Disorder Counsellors. Retrieved from Addictions Counseller Salary (Canada). Retrieved from Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation. Retrieved from Family, Marriage and Other Related Counsellors. Retrived from How to Become an Addictions Counsellor: Career Path Guide. Retrieved from Job Description: Alcohol and Drug Counsellor. Retrived from Substance Abuse and Addictions Worker Schools & Colleges. Retrived from

  1. Job Description: Alcohol and Drug Counsellor. Retrived from
  2. Substance Abuse and Behavioural Disorders Counselors. Retrieved from
  3. Job Description: Alcohol and Drug Counsellor. Retrived from
  4. Substance Abuse and Behavioural Disorders Counselors. Retrieved from
  5. Canadian Addiction Counsellors Certification Federation. Retrieved from
  6. Substance Abuse and Addictions Worker Schools & Colleges. Retrived from
  7. How to Become an Addictions Counsellor: Career Path Guide. Retrieved from
  8. Substance Abuse Counselling Job Description: What You’ll Do. Retrived from
  9. Family, Marriage and Other Related Counsellors. Retrived from
  10. Job Description: Alcohol and Drug Counsellor. Retrived from
  11. Substance Abuse Counselling Job Description: What You’ll Do. Retrived from
  12. Family, Marriage and Other Related Counsellors. Retrived from
  13. Job Description: Alcohol and Drug Counsellor. Retrived from
  14. Retrieved from
  15. For more statistics access
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