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Career and Education Opportunities for Substance Abuse Specialists in Chesapeake, Virginia

Chesapeake, Virginia provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for substance abuse specialists. The national trend for substance abuse specialists sees this job pool growing by about 21.0% over the next eight years. Substance abuse specialists generally counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders.

Substance abuse specialists earn approximately $19 per hour or $40,190 yearly on average in Virginia. Nationally they average about $17 per hour or $37,030 yearly. Incomes for substance abuse specialists are not quite as good as in the overall category of Counseling and Therapy in Virginia, and not quite as good as the overall Counseling and Therapy category nationally. Substance abuse specialists work in a variety of jobs, including: chemical dependency professional, chemical dependancy counselor, and licensed social worker.

The Chesapeake area is home to thirty-six schools of higher education, including three within twenty-five miles of Chesapeake where you can get a degree as a substance abuse specialist. Substance abuse specialists usually hold a Master's degree, so you can expect to spend about six years studying to be a substance abuse specialist if you already have a high school diploma, or just 2 years if you have a Bachelor's degree.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Substance Abuse Specialist

Substance Abuse Specialist video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, substance abuse specialists counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. They also may counsel individuals, families, or groups or engage in prevention programs.

Substance abuse specialists attend training sessions to increase knowledge and skills. They also participate in case conferences and staff meetings. Equally important, substance abuse specialists have to furnish clients or family members with data related to addiction issues and about available services and programs, making appropriate referrals when needed. They are often called upon to counsel clients and patients, individually and in group sessions, to help in overcoming dependencies, adjusting to life, and making changes. They are expected to intervene as an advocate for clients or patients to deal with emergency problems in crisis situations. Finally, substance abuse specialists direct efforts with courts, probation officers, community services and other post-treatment agencies.

Every day, substance abuse specialists are expected to be able to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for substance abuse specialists to act as liaisons between clients and medical staff. They are often called upon to conduct chemical dependency program orientation sessions. They also formulate and implement follow-up and aftercare programs for clients to be discharged from treatment programs. They are sometimes expected to instruct others in program methods and functions. Somewhat less frequently, substance abuse specialists are also expected to participate in case conferences and staff meetings.

and complete and maintain accurate records and reports regarding the patients' histories and progress and other required data. And finally, they sometimes have to direct efforts with courts, probation officers, community services and other post-treatment agencies.

Like many other jobs, substance abuse specialists must have exceptional integrity and have a strong concern for others.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chesapeake include:

  • Career Advisor. Counsel individuals and provide group educational and vocational guidance services.
  • Child and Family Services Worker. Provide social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families and to maximize the family well-being and the academic functioning of children. May assist single parents, arrange adoptions, and find foster homes for abandoned or abused children. In schools, they address such problems as teenage pregnancy, misbehavior, and truancy. May also advise teachers on how to deal with problem children.
  • Health Education Specialist. Promote, maintain, and improve individual and community health by assisting individuals and communities to adopt healthy behaviors. Collect and analyze data to identify community needs prior to planning, implementing, and evaluating programs designed to encourage healthy lifestyles, policies and environments. May also serve as a resource to assist individuals, other professionals, or the community, and may administer fiscal resources for health education programs.
  • Marriage and Family Therapist. Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, whether cognitive, or behavioral, within the context of marriage and family systems. Apply psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques in the delivery of professional services to individuals, couples, and families for the purpose of treating such diagnosed nervous and mental disorders.
  • Mental Health Counselor. Counsel with emphasis on prevention. Work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental health. May help individuals deal with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; suicide; stress management; problems with self-esteem; and issues associated with aging and mental and emotional health.
  • Social Services Assistant. Assist professionals from a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, or social work, to provide client services, as well as support for families. May assist clients in identifying available benefits and social and community services and help clients obtain them. May assist social workers with developing, organizing, and conducting programs to prevent and resolve problems relevant to substance abuse, human relationships, or adult daycare.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Substance Abuse Specialist Training

Thomas Nelson Community College - Hampton, VA

Thomas Nelson Community College, 99 Thomas Nelson Drive, Hampton, VA 23666. Thomas Nelson Community College is a large college located in Hampton, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,541 students. Thomas Nelson Community College has a less than one year program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated 361 students in 2008.

Tidewater Community College - Norfolk, VA

Tidewater Community College, 121 College Place, Norfolk, VA 23510. Tidewater Community College is a large college located in Norfolk, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 25,900 students. Tidewater Community College has a less than one year program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated 184 students in 2008.

Old Dominion University - Norfolk, VA

Old Dominion University, 5115 Hampton Blvd, Norfolk, VA 23529. Old Dominion University is a large university located in Norfolk, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 22,973 students and an admission rate of 72%. Old Dominion University has a bachelor's degree program in Mental & Social Health Services & Allied Professions, Other Specialties which graduated 179 students in 2008.


Distance Credentialed counselor: A Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC) will be nationally recognized as a professional with training in best practices in Distance Counseling.

For more information, see the Center for Credentialing & Education, Inc. website.

Certified AODA Counselor: Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse Counselor is one of the five reciprocal certifications offered through IC&RC.

For more information, see the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse, Inc. website.

ServSafe Alcohol: The ServSafe Alcohol program outlines effective responsible alcohol service practices for all front-of-the-house staff, including bartenders, waiters, hosts, busers, security and valets.

For more information, see the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation website.


Counselor, Certified Substance Abuse

Licensing agency: Department of Health Professions
Address: Board of Professional Counselors, 6606 West Broad Street, 4th Floor, Richmond, VA 23230-1717

Phone: (804) 662-9908
Website: Department of Health Professions Board of Professional Counselors

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chesapeake, Virginia

Chesapeake, Virginia
Chesapeake, Virginia photo by BetacommandBot

Chesapeake is located in Chesapeake City County, Virginia. It has a population of over 220,111, which has grown by 10.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chesapeake, 87, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Chesapeake are priced at $160,000 on average, which is well above the state average. In 2008, five hundred eighty-nine new homes were constructed in Chesapeake, down from seven hundred fifty-eight the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Chesapeake are educational services, health care, and public administration. For men, it is construction, public administration, and transportation equipment. The average travel time to work is about 25 minutes. More than 24.7% of Chesapeake residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 8.8%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chesapeake is 6.1%, which is less than Virginia's average of 6.4%.

Pleasant Grove Church, Refuge Mission Church and Saint Andrews Church are among the churches located in Chesapeake.

Chesapeake is home to the Jacks Camp and the Portlock Yard as well as Cascade Park and Ford Park. Shopping malls in the area include Great Bridge Shopping Center, Greenbrier Mall Shopping Center and Poplar Hill Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chesapeake can choose from Courtyard By Marriott, Chesapeake Travelodge Motel and Comfort Inn Bowers Hill for temporary stays in the area.