How To Become An Alcohol And Drug Counsellor In The UK
Alcohol and Drug abuse are rampant, not only around the world but also in the UK.
- Between 2015 and 2016, over 15,000 hospital admissions in England had a primary diagnosis of poisoning by illicit drugs. This is up six percent from 2014 to 2015, and it is up by 51 percent from 2005 to 2006.
- Nearly 2,500 registered deaths were related to drug misuse in 2015 in England and Wales.
- One in 12 or nearly 8.5 percent of adults between 16 and 50 had taken an illicit drug in the last year between 2015 and 2016, which is about 2.7 million people in England and Wales.
- In 2014, 15 percent of pupils had taken drugs in England.
- About 339,000 hospital admissions in England were related to alcohol consumption in 2015-2016, which is three percent higher than in 2014-2015, and up 22 percent from 2005 to 2006.
- Fifty-seven percent of adults said they drank alcohol in the previous week in 2016. That is about 25.3 million people.
- 6,813 deaths were related to the consumption of alcohol in 2015 in England.
From these facts alone, it is obvious that drug and alcohol abuse is something that affects more people than you might initially think. You may have been affected by drugs and alcohol in your life in some way.
Since drugs and alcohol are such a problem, counsellors are needed to help people overcome their addictions and to lead healthy, more productive lives. In the UK, there are estimated to more than 30,000 people working in drug- or alcohol-related positions, according to the UK Federation of Drug and Alcohol Practitioners. Alcohol and drugs change how a person thinks and acts, and working with a counsellor to overcome the challenge of substance abuse can be life-changing.
What Alcohol And Drug Counsellors Do
Substance abuse counsellors first work with clients to ensure that they really want to stop their abuse of substances. It’s wasting time if the client starts therapy but isn’t truly committed to making a change. However, there may be times when the client does not want to be with a counsellor but are required to by a family member to do so or to comply with the law.
After determining the type and depth of substance abuse by the client, a counsellor can help the client identify situations that trigger their desire to abuse drugs or alcohol. That may be certain people or circumstances, and the triggers are different for every person.
The counsellor continues to offer guidance and encouragement as the client begins to recover. They also help them create a support network of people the client can call when they need help staying away from drugs and alcohol, and they help clients repair relationships with those closest to them.
Qualities You Need to Become a Good Counsellor
To be a successful counsellor, you should approach your clients and their situations with care and empathy, according to CareersinPsychology.org. You will also need a solid understanding of substance abuse issues and how they impact people. Having the ability to form trusting relationships with people and avoiding judging them is also vital as a counsellor.
You should be able to work alone and as part of a team of people committed to helping the client succeed. Your communication skills, both written and oral, need to be excellent, and you should be able to listen actively and carefully. You’ll work with a variety of organizations, so you should be able to form productive team relationships as well. Finally, you’ll need to respect your clients’ confidentiality. This is paramount to building and keeping their trust.
Education and Qualifications
To become a substance abuse counsellor, you can take several routes. Just like with any job, the more education, training, and experience you have, the higher your salary and the more job responsibilities you may take on.
You’ll first need to earn an undergraduate degree, perhaps majoring in alcohol and drug abuse studies or addictions counselling. A behavioral science degree is also a good start. Moving on to complete a master’s and/or a doctorate (PhD) degree will help you to become a licensed counsellor and to work in private practice.
If you already have a degree in a related field or are in the middle of getting a degree in the behavioral sciences, therapy, or counselling, you can also complete certificate programs to provide specialized training.
Hours and Salary
As a counsellor, your hours and salary can vary significantly, depending on a number of factors, such as whether you work part-time, full-time, or on a volunteer basis. The salary is typically between £17,000 to £40,000 average per year for the general job category of drug and alcohol worker in the UK, and the hours typically range from between 35 to 40 hours per week. Experience and training play a big role in determining salary, and they are also important in determining job title and level of autonomy on the job.
You should expect to work outside of normal business hours from time to time, and you may need to be on call. You may work in a healthcare setting, in your own practice, or perhaps in a prison or remand centre. You may also do a significant amount of travel in your district, visiting schools and centres. Other places you may work are residential rehabilitation units or a housing association office, according to the National Careers Service.
Your work as an alcohol and drug abuse counsellor is crucial to helping people recentre themselves and to gain a new foothold in their lives. Through dedication to being of service to this population, you will make a positive difference in the lives of many people, not just your clients. The families and friends of your clients also benefit from your work and so does society at large as it works to combat the problem of substance abuse on a massive scale. Get started on your career today by contacting an educational facility that specialises in providing substance abuse counselling training.