College Aims to Meet Demand for Alcohol, Drug Abuse Counselors

Donna Re of Haverhill, a recent graduate of NECC’s drug and alcohol abuse certificate program, landed her dream job as a program manager at the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center in Haverhill.

Graduates of Northern Essex Community Colleges Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling Certificate program are on the frontlines of the addiction epidemic, counseling patients during their recovery.  And with growing awareness of addiction, the demand for substance abuse counselors is strong.

Students in the program gain clinical experience working under supervision in hospitals, residential programs, shelters, and correctional facilities, and most receive job offers from their clinical sites, says Brian MacKenna-Rice, program coordinator.

“You’re not going to get rich in this field but the job has intrinsic value,” says MacKenna-Rice.  “Most of our students have been affected by addiction in some way and this field is a calling for them.”

Approximately 50 students are enrolled in the college’s 12-month program, and graduates have a 100 percent placement rate, according to MacKenna-Rice.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for substance abuse counselors is $39,270 and employment is expected to grow 22 percent between 2014 and 2024 which is much faster growth than average growth.

The great majority of students in the program are adults who are working and raising families while in college and many attend college part time.

Donna Re, of Haverhill, who will graduate with an associate degree in Human Services in May, was an LPN and hypnotherapist when she enrolled in the program.  A veteran, she used the G.I. Bill to continue her education.

“I had great success helping addicts in my career and when I moved back to Massachusetts, I realized I would need a degree to continue that work,” she says.

Re’s internship led to a full-time position as program manager at the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, a position that she calls “her dream job.”

Graduates, like Re, are prepared to sit for the state test to become a licensed drug & alcohol abuse counselor.  The majority chose to continue their education and earn an associate degree in human services from Northern Essex and many continue on for bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in social work.

Anyone interested in the college’s Drug & Alcohol Abuse Counseling Certificate or Human Service Associate Degree is invited to attend an information session.  They will be held June 7 from 10 to noon in the Bentley Library, Room 112, Haverhill Campus, 100 Elliott St. and April 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. on the Lawrence Campus, Room 244, the Dimitry Building, 45 Franklin St.

For more information, visit the website or contact enrollment services, [email protected] or (978) 556-3700.