What Do Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors Do?

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors advise people who have alcoholism or other types of addiction (drugs, gambling, etc.), eating disorders, or other behavioral problems. They provide support and treatments to help the client recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors by helping them identify behaviors and issues related to their addiction. They may also teach clients how to cope with stress and life’s problems in ways that help them recover. Many times, they help clients rebuild professional relationships and re-establish their careers. They may also help clients improve their personal relationships and find ways to discuss their addiction or other problems with family and friends. Many substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors work with other health and mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, social workers, doctors, and nurses. Counseling sessions may be one-on-one, with families, or with groups of people.


The CASAC (Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor) is intended for individuals who provide alcoholism and substance abuse counseling services in approved work settings. In order to become a CASAC in New York State, you must meet specific competency and ethical conduct requirements, meet specific work experience requirements, meet minimum education and training requirements and pass the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Inc. (ICRC/AODA) written examination for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselors.


The Licensed Clinical Social Worker-R has a graduate academic degree, has had supervised clinical work experience, and has passed a national- or state-certified licensing exam. The “R” designation indicates that the practitioner can possibly receive third-party insurance reimbursement.

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