Knowing those who help others: Characteristics of substance abuse counselors across the United States
Substance abuse counselors help people in crisis regain healthier lives, but little is known about counselors' lives and needs. Substance abuse counselors have high burnout/turnover rates, and investigating their lives is a vital step toward improving counselor support systems and resources. This study reports demographic, workplace, and health characteristics of 1054 substance abuse counselors across the United States. Counselors were randomly selected from the SAMHSA database and completed an extensive online survey. Most were female (69.5%) and non-Hispanic (91.7%). Most identified as White (73.3%) or Black/African American (15.2). The average counselor had 8.29 years of counseling practice (sd = 7.37 years, range <1 - 32 years) and carried a caseload of 23.32 patients. Nearly three-quarters had a bachelors degree or higher, 12.7% had an associates, and 14.0% had no college degree. Less than half were in recovery from substance abuse themselves. Counselors slept on average less than seven hours per night, 80.5% rated sleep quality as fairly/very good, but one-third had trouble at least once a month staying awake while driving, eating, or socializing. Counselors listed headache (mean of 2.21 times/week) and backache (2.32 times/week) as their most frequent negative physical health symptoms. Counselors engaged in bouts of moderate exercise 2.12 times and mild exercise 2.82 times per week. More than half never engaged in strenuous exercise (51.1%) and 31.8% never engaged in moderate exercise. This comprehensive lifestyle information is vital as we improve support systems for counselors.
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Describe the health and basic characteristics of substance abuse counselors across the United States
Discuss implications of these characteristics for further development of support systems for counselors who historically face a challenging job and high burnout rates
Keyword(s): Counseling, Health Behavior
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract author on the content I am responsible for because I have worked on the research grant for 3 years, am experienced with substance abuse treatment center research, and my scientific interests center around smoking cessation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.