Addiction counselors play an important role in providing clients, families, significant others, and community groups with information about the risks involved with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs use, as well as available prevention, treatment and recovery resources.
Our competencies in this area are:
- To provide education both formal and informal about substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, and the recovery process. In order to help people from multicultural backgrounds, we need to keep in mind:
- Cultural differences among diverse communities.
- Cultural differences in substance use behaviors.
- Delivery of educational programs that are culturally relevant.
- Research and theory on prevention of substance abuse problems.
- Learning styles and teaching methods that we can adapt to our clients.
- How to facilitate discussions in a safe and respectful environment.
- How to preparing outlines and handout materials.
- How to make public presentations to deliver the information effectively.
- Cultural issues in planning prevention and treatment programs.
- Age and gender differences in substance use patterns.
- Culture, gender, and age-appropriate prevention, treatment, and recovery resources.
- Awareness of our own cultural biases.
- To describe the risk and protective factors that increase and decrease the likelihood for an individual, community, or group to develop a substance use disorder. Our knowledge in this area includes:
- Risk and protective factors for the onset of substance use disorders.
- How to present the issues from a non-judgmental perspective.
- To describe the warning signs, symptoms, and the course of substance use disorders. We must be familiar with:
- The continuum of use and abuse, including the warning signs and symptoms of a developing substance use disorder.
- The current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) categories or other diagnostic standards associated with psychoactive substance use.
- To describe how substance use disorders affect families and significant others. We need to educate our client about:
- How psychoactive substance use by one family member affects other family members or significant others.
- The family’s influence on the development and continuation of a substance use disorder.
- The role of the family, couple, or significant others in treatment and recovery.
- To describe the continuum of care and resources available to the family and significant others. Our goals are:
- To present available treatment options, including local health, allied health, and behavioral health resources.
- To motivate both family members and the client to seek out resources and services from the full continuum of care.
- To describe different treatment modalities.
- To identify and make referrals to local health, allied health, and behavioral health resources.
- Although this may sounds easy to do, we need to keep in mind the difficulties families and significant others go through when seeking help. We must work from a strengths-based principle, which emphasizes client autonomy.
- We must be familiar with the models for substance abuse prevention and treatment, and recovery from substance use disorders.
- Awareness of our own biases when presenting the information.
- Delivering educational sessions.