Skip to main content
2 answers
Asked Viewed 239 times Translate

If you work in the substance abuse world, what does a typical day to day look like?

I'm a senior in highschool and I'm looking into the best options for what I've wanted to be for a long time, and I want to insure myself I'm getting into the career(s) I want. senior classof2020 advice career psychology

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

100% of 3 Pros

2 answers

Updated Translate

Nancy’s Answer

Hi, Lailaa,

Great question. I have worked in a closely related field, mental health. I have referred people to substance abuse programs. Outpatient means the client comes weekly to get help, and those substance abuse counselors typically see clients for about 50 min., do some record-keeping, then see the next person. They may do 5 or 6 of these in a day then spend some time on the phone talking with insurance companies to get approval or touching base with a probation officer, for example. Then there may be a half hour of report-writing, or a meeting of staff.

A substance abuse counselor in an inpatient setting or partial hospitalization setting has patients there all day. The counselor is likely to facilitate group counseling, have individual sessions, meet with family and the patient, and have case conferences with others like psychiatrists or social workers. They may do an educational presentation or supervise an activity. Time is spent writing reports, as well. Interpersonal skills are very important.

Nancy recommends the following next steps:

Research the field online in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. It is growing!
Updated Translate

Ian’s Answer


Thank you so much for your question about what it's like to work with individuals who struggle with substance abuse problems. During my undergrad I volunteered with a local Rescue Mission as a mentor in sobriety. This was a part-time endeavor that I worked for two years. In my professional life I worked for 8 years in community-based health where we saw a number of individuals who struggled with significant dependency to drugs and medications. I later worked in the field of child protection in two different positions across the U.S. which works primarily with families who struggle with substance abuse problems. I also lost a brother to drug addiction in 2015.

What I can tell you is that working with those who suffer from problems related to substance abuse and addiction is no easy task. Like anyone else these individuals vary from person to person. You will likely develop a liking for certain individuals and a feeling of dread toward working with others. It pays to practice patience and to have strong mental resilience when working with people of this demographic because they will challenge you on an hourly basis. The way that you choose to handle this will depend entirely on who you are as a person and the unique skill sets that you bring to the table. I can honestly say that although some days were remarkably difficult, long, or frustrating for logistical purposes, there wasn't one day while working in these fields that I felt like I wasn't contributing to my community.

In my opinion it is well worth the time and effort to help people push through these complicated issues and a strong sense of accomplishment comes hand-in-hand with that. You can expect that some people will thoroughly enjoy your company and some others will curse you for the duration of your time spent with them. If you're able to view this as a learning experience it will help to teach you some of the most valuable lessons in life.

I hope that this answer provides some clarity for you and I wish you the absolute best luck in pursuing whatever career you choose from this point forward.

Ian Z. Burgos