Rising Drug and Alcohol Addiction: Counseling is Key to Healing

Published on Monday, June 17th, 2013

Substance abuse is widespread. Alcoholism and drug-related problems touch all Americans, directly or indirectly.  In April alone, which is Alcohol Awareness Month, I have read in the pages of The Telegram & Gazette several items about alcohol-related incidents. Currently, nearly 14 million Americans—one in every 13—abuse alcohol or drugs. Several million more adults engage in risky drinking and drug patterns that could lead to addiction problems. In addition, approximately 53 percent of men and women in the United States report that one or more of their close relatives have an addiction problem. In purely economic terms, drug and alcohol-use problems cost society more than $224 billion per year due to lost productivity, health care costs, business, and criminal justice costs: the equivalent of $746 for every man, woman, and child in the United States.

In 2010, almost 11,000 people in Worcester County were admitted to state-funded facilities for the treatment of drug and alcohol-related problems; state-wide, the number exceeded 102,000. You may not see them or know these people, but they are part of our community—contributing to our businesses, connecting with their families, and giving back to the community. They are struggling with their own personal nightmares and have made the decision to deal with their addiction in an effort to set their feet solidly on a path toward hope.

But they cannot go through their recovery alone. Unfortunately, there are insufficient numbers of trained counselors to meet the needs of people suffering from alcoholism and other dependencies in our community. Certification and licensure is not a difficult process. There are colleges and agencies in Worcester County that offer these educational hours and counseling supervision. At Becker College, we have incorporated this training into our four-year psychology major, and we have created a six-course certificate program. Requirements to be a certified alcoholism/drug abuse counselor (CADAC) include: 270 hours of continuing education training related to substance abuse and supervised counseling experience, as well as up to three years practical work experience.

“The good news is that we are making progress,” says Robert J. Lindsey, president and CEO of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD).  “It is now estimated that more than 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery. These individuals, with the help of certified drug and alcohol counselors, have achieved healthy lifestyles, both physically and emotionally, and contribute in positive ways to their communities.”

Unlike many jobs, substance abuse counselors have the rare opportunity to transform people’s lives. While the job can be challenging, the outcomes—helping clients overcome their addictions and get their lives back on track—can be extremely rewarding.  Certified drug and alcohol counselors help their clients in multiple ways, from providing tangible guidance and information to serving as a source of emotional strength.

Alcoholism and drug addiction does not discriminate; it affects people of all ages, ethnicities, genders, geographic regions, and socioeconomic levels. Too many people are still unaware that drug addiction and alcoholism are conditions that can be treated, just like we treat other health disorders such as diabetes and hypertension.  I urge anyone who has the passion and commitment to help those with addiction problems to become certified. You can make a tremendous difference in the lives of those in our community. We must help those who are suffering and to help our next generation avoid the many problems associated with alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

Click here for more information about the Certificate in Alcohol/Drug Abuse Counseling.

By Nina Mazloff, Chair, Department of Teacher Education and Family Studies, Becker College