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Addiction Counselors

Addiction counseling is an essential part of addiction treatment and recovery. Whether at a private practice, addiction treatment facility, or community center, addiction counselors are specially trained to tackle the unique challenges of substance abuse.

With so many types of counselors with specialized accreditation, patients have several options available for addiction counseling for long-term recovery.

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What Is an Addiction Counselor?

Addiction counselors are mental healthcare providers specially trained to help patients with drug abuse issues through addiction counseling, psychotherapy, or group therapy. Addiction counselors help with emotional and behavioral issues related to substance abuse.

For most substance abuse counselors, education requirements include a bachelor’s or master’s degree in substance abuse counseling or a related field and continuing education in addiction medicine.

By focusing on the mental health aspect of addiction treatment, addiction counselors are essential to treatment programs and long-term recovery.

Common types of addiction counselors: 

  • Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC)
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC)
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
  • National Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist (NCPRSS)
  • Nicotine Dependence Specialist (NDS)
  • Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC)
  • National Certified Addiction Counselor Level I (NCAC I)
  • National Certified Addiction Counselor Level II (NCAC II)
  • Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors (LCDC)

Addiction Counselors VS Addiction Doctors

Addiction counselors focus on the behavioral health aspect of addiction treatment through therapy sessions. Addiction counselors may also help family members or loved ones affected by addiction.

On the other hand, addiction doctors handle the medical side of addiction treatment plans, whether through withdrawal management, medical detox, or inpatient medical care.

Types of Treatment an Addiction Counselor Provides

Because addiction counseling is a wide and varied field, many subspecialties have developed over the years. These subspecialties allow addicts to work with substance abuse counselors that specialize in the substance they’re abusing.

Common treatments addiction counselors provide include: 

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  • Specialized Treatment
  • Comprehensive Support
  • Personalized Care

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What Types of Issues Will an Addiction Counselor Treat?

Thanks to the many subspecialties within substance abuse counseling, patients have treatment options that cater to each substance’s unique challenges.

Types of issues addiction counselors will treat:

Who Should See an Addiction Counselor?

Anyone experiencing symptoms of addiction should see an addiction counselor. Not only is addiction counseling essential for successful substance abuse treatment, but counseling can also help with existing mental health issues.

Don’t wait for addiction to worsen. Through therapy, you can learn vital coping skills and how to identify and replace destructive thought patterns with more positive ones.

Common warning signs of addiction or substance abuse include:

  • Powerful cravings for the substance
  • Hiding drug use or the effect it is having on you from others
  • Continuing drug use despite the negative consequences
  • Spending all your time thinking about the drug
  • Bloodshot eyes, bad breath, shakes or tremors, frequent bloody noses, or you have gained or lost weight
  • Bad skin, hair, teeth, and nails
  • Memory loss or problems with recall
  • Changes in speech, like slurred words or rapid rambling
  • Losing interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Abrupt changes in personality
  • Struggling to give yourself limits
  • Using more of the drug than you intended to
  • Being unable to stop using the drug, even if you want to
  • Borrowing or stealing money to purchase the substance
  • Sudden aggressive behavior, irritability, and depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Find a Local Addiction Counselor

If you or someone you know is fighting substance abuse and needs the help of an addiction counselor, many options are available.

Addiction counselors can help you determine the ideal treatment options for your situation. If you have a general physician or addiction doctor, they can also refer you to a substance abuse counselor.

Another option is SAMHSA’s online treatment locator, or you can call (800) 662-4357 to find a treatment program with addiction counselors that can help you.

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FAQs About Addiction Counselors

What does an addiction counselor do?

An addiction counselor helps patients address the mental and behavioral health part of addiction.

Using psychotherapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and group therapy, substance abuse counselors can help you identify why you turned to addiction and how to avoid it in the future. They can also help you address any existing mental health concerns as well.

Can addiction counselors bill insurance?

Yes. Most insurances cover addiction counseling, although it may vary depending on the insurance type. Ask your insurance carrier what addiction counselors are covered near you.

Who should see an addiction counselor?

People with substance abuse and their loved ones should see an addiction counselor. Addiction can have serious consequences for the addict and their family, so working with an addiction counselor can ensure long-term recovery and healing for all parties involved.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

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  2. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: Often a Hand In Hand Profession. (2023, March 22). Retrieved April 28, 2023, from

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  4. Rieckmann , T., Farentinos , C., Tillotson, C. J., Kocarnik , J., & McCarty , D. (2011, October 20). The Substance Abuse Counseling Workforce: Education, Preparation, and Certification. Taylor & Francis Online. Retrieved April 28, 2023, from

  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, October 24). Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved April 28, 2023, from

  6. Urbanoski, K. A., Kelly, J. F., Hoeppner, B. B., & Slaymaker, V. (2012, January 30). The Role of Therapeutic Alliance in Substance Use Disorder Treatment. Journal of Substance Use & Treatment. Retrieved April 29, 2023, from

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