Addiction continues to be an issue that impacts the lives of millions of people in the United States. The need for professionals equipped to provide the proper support and guidance to those dealing with addiction has never been greater, as evident in numbers from the federal government.
The need for substance abuse counselors is expected to grow 23% by 2026, far faster than the average nationwide for all occupations.
In South Dakota, those wishing to enter this important field can choose a Bachelor of Science in Addiction Studies offered by the University of South Dakota. The degree qualifies graduates certification in South Dakota. Students outside the state may also qualify in their states. The program is offered 100% online.
Why go into addiction counseling and prevention? It’s the perfect career for those who wish to work in a field where they have a direct, positive impact on the lives of those in need.
The Statistics on Addiction
Perhaps the most shocking statistics on drug addiction come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency now reports that, on average, 115 people in the United States die every day from opioid overdose. About 40% of those cases involve prescription opioids, most often prescribed for chronic pain.
Here are more numbers on drugs and opioids from the CDC:
- Between 1999 and 2016, more than 630,000 people died from drug overdose
- In 2016 alone, 63,600 people died of drug overdose
- Of that 2016 number, 66% involved opioids
- The number of opioid-related overdose deaths in 2016 was five times higher than the number in 1999
And those are just the numbers surrounding opioids. Opioids are far from the only issue. For example, the CDC estimates that 88,424 deaths each year between 2006 and 2010 can be attributed to alcohol. The leading causes of death include liver disease, alcohol-related accidents and alcohol-related homicides.
Further, the CDC estimates that more than 2.5 million years of potential life were lost every year during that same time period.
The Need For Professionals
The above statistics are just for two common areas of addiction, alcohol and opioids. But the statistics show how dire the situation is for many people who face addiction issues.
Drug-related arrests, which totaled more than 1.5 million in 2016, have not slowed the tide of addiction across the country. Therefore, organizations now know that professionals are needed in this critical area of society to use a science-based approach to deal with addiction issues.
Programs such as the one at the University of South Dakota, which is accredited by the National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission, focus on educating students in alcohol and drug prevention, education, counseling and treatment.
Earning a four-year degree in addiction studies can lead a variety of jobs. They include:
- Recovery coach
- Substance abuse counselor
- Intake coordinator at a substance abuse facility
- Substance abuse treatment program manager
- Correctional program coordinator
- Chemical dependency program manager
Clearly, a stable and rewarding career can be found with a degree in addiction studies. It’s more a calling than a job. But education in this area can prepare graduates for a profession in which they provide help to those who are truly in need.