1. Resume Examples
  2. Drug and Alcohol Counselor
Written by Susan ShorSusan Shor

Drug and Alcohol Counselor resume example & writing guide

An outstanding drug and alcohol counselor resume can help secure your foothold in this specialized, rapidly growing occupational field. Reach out to Resume.io for guidance to showcase your top professional qualifications and personal qualities. It starts here with this writing guide and example of a winning drug and alcohol counselor resume.
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Drug and Alcohol Counselor resume example & writing guide
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You are in a human services profession; you provide guidance and treatment to people suffering from addictions. While the job is rooted in helping people — and nothing could be more admirable! —  it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t optimize your job search for the best results. When you’re ready to reach out for your next social services position, specifically in the addictions field, make sure you have an impressive drug and alcohol counselor resume that showcases your talents and work experience. 

Perhaps this is a time when you could use some guidance yourself. Resume.io is in your corner, with job search resources that include more than 350 occupation-specific writing guides with corresponding resume examples.

Then, using the guide you see now alongside an adaptable drug and alcohol counselor resume sample, you'll be well on your way to securing the next counselor job you desire.

Use the tips and hacks in this guide to:

  • Consider the job role and employment outlook for drug and alcohol counselors.
  • Apply the correct resume structure and determine the best format for your resume.
  • Sound persuasive in each resume section: header, profile, employment history, education, and skills.
  • Present an amazing visual impression with a great layout.

Let’s get started.

What does a drug and alcohol counselor do?

Compassion, empathy and patience are hallmarks of the therapy sessions you provide to those who are struggling with addictions. You may work with individuals or group members in a variety of settings, including the justice system, schools, healthcare facilities and various social service organizations. Some drug and alcohol counselors work exclusively with adults, youth or younger family members, depending on the circumstances and therapy goals.

Statistical insight

The job outlook is bright for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment prospects in those related fields is projected to grow 23 percent from 2020 to 2030. That’s nearly three times the occupational average rate.

How to write a drug and alcohol counselor resume

To start writing your drug and alcohol counselor resume, it should simplify things to know that all resumes have the same framework in common. So writing tasks can be broken into steps, incorporating these  essential elements:

  • Header
  • Profile (sometimes called summary or personal statement)
  • Employment history
  • Education
  • Skills

Together they should add up to no more than a single page. Most importantly, every time you pursue a different job, your resume should be customized accordingly. Each new version should be tailored to the specific employer’s needs and expectations. Check the posted job description closely to determine the narrowest approach possible.

Carefully analyze the same job ad for keywords that stand out. Match the wording precisely in your resume to better ensure it will pass through the applicant tracking systems (ATS) that employers commonly use to screen online submissions.

Choosing the best resume format for a drug and alcohol counselor

The majority of job applicants are advised to adopt the most commonly used chronological resume format. Typically, your professional experience follows a sequence of employee positions. This makes it simple to organize your achievements in bullet-point highlights below dated employer headings. List them in reverse chronological order, starting with your current or most recent position and working backwards.

Other options for resume formats may sometimes be more suitable in instances where you want to emphasize specialized skills — what you did, as opposed to where you worked. The functional resume format typically lends itself to workforce newcomers or those with a self-employed background. The hybrid (combined) format to present your most relevant skills and experience offers even more versatility.. 

Resume header

A distinctive resume header can make your job application stand out among dozens or hundreds of others, ideally a sight for the reader’s eye fatigue. For double the impact, align the visual elements of both your resume and cover letter to create a matching pair. 

From a functional standpoint, the prominence of your name, occupation and contact information in the header makes it easy for hiring managers to revisit your resume to shortlist and get in touch for an interview.

Resume profile example

As an addiction counselor, you must be able to listen to patients and develop customized treatment plans to meet their individual needs. Your profile, also known as a professional summary or personal statement, gives you a chance to demonstrate the compassion and communication skills you use in your substance abuse treatment programs. This is the one spot on your resume open to full sentences; about three to five of them works best. Tell hiring managers one or two of the achievements you are proudest of, and why. This is your space to pat yourself on the back.

Include a sentence about your style in therapy sessions and your philosophy for helping those struggling with their behavioral health. If you specialize in drug abuse treatment, eating disorders, or a particular aspect of drug abuse problems, make sure you note that expertise here, too. 

Use strong descriptive language that tells recruiters who you are as a professional counselor. As you write this section, think about how your cover letter can complement it without repeating information.

See the drug and alcohol counselor profile from our resume example below. 


Dedicated Drug and Alcohol Counselor with over 11 years of experience providing treatment and support for those struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. Adept at helping patients to address serious issues in their lives that have negatively impacted their personal and work relationships. Committed to creating effective patient treatment plans and working with the families of patients to ensure the best care for their loved ones.


Employment history sample

Throw away the idea that your employment history is a dry listing of the job responsibilities you've held. No! To impress hiring managers, you need to craft the story of your career growth. If you have extensive experience (more than 10 years), you can delete those earliest jobs to make room for descriptions that show off your case management, substance abuse counseling, or treatment planning expertise.

Your bullet-point highlights should represent different skills or work experiences for each position you’ve held. If you have earned promotions, make sure that is obvious. Each description should be framed as an achievement, not a job duty. This gives recruiters an idea of what you would bring to the job as a drug and alcohol counselor. 

Expert tip

Try using the STAR method to write concise, outcome-directed descriptions.

  1. Describe the Situation
  2. Tell the Task, or what you were trying to achieve
  3. Explain the Action you took
  4. Use details to highlight your Results

Remember that you may work in a hospital,  general counseling services clinic, or a facility for substance use disorders. Custom-tailored job descriptions will make it clear to hiring managers that you understand the demands of their particular setting. If you have experience in a different type of counseling, list those jobs, too. Running group therapy or support groups, managing caseloads, and keeping detailed progress notes are all transferable skills.

Consider how you can illustrate your ability to provide motivation, encouragement, and coping mechanisms and help clients establish a more positive lifestyle while working toward making healthier choices. 

Below is a drug and alcohol counselor employment history sample you can modify. 


Drug and Alcohol Counselor at The Andrews Foundation, New York
May 2014 — July 2022

  • Managed individual and group programs for 1,600+ clients, addressing adverse behavior related to drug and alcohol.
  • Conducted consultations with patients and family members to understand the personal situation of each patient.
  • Created personalized treatment plans for patients with concise goals, encouraging and assessing their progress at regular intervals.
  • Collaborated with outpatient facilities, case managers, and probation officers regarding the progress of patients.
  • Facilitated balance and restoration practices for clients, credited with improved well-being when evaluated during and after treatment.


Drug and Alcohol Counselor at Stand Up Foundation, New York
April 2011 — April 2014

  • Provided substance abuse treatment programs for 700+ clients utilizing this community center.
  • Helped clients to develop positive coping skills to avoid relapses and further damage to their lives.
  • Educated clients on how to achieve personal goals by providing positive encouragement and feedback during their treatment.
  • Gave well-attended weekly lectures on healthy lifestyle choices and techniques to overcome negative emotional issues, which 82% of clients reported being very or extremely helpful in their recovery.

Education education example

Most substance abuse counselors have a bachelor’s degree in a related area such as psychology, addiction studies, or social work. Many also have a master’s degree in counseling or clinical mental health. As part of your training and as a requirement for licensure, counselor’s also must complete supervised clinical experiences. If you are new to the field, you may list your training in your employment section. Otherwise, you may leave it off or include it in your education section.

If you hold a degree higher than a bachelor's, there's no need to include your high school information. You can list licenses, certifications and any accolades or distinctions here, or create a separate section highlighting them. 

Below is the drug and alcohol counselor resume education example.


Master of Clinical Psychology, Columbia University, New York
August 2010 — May 2013


Bachelor of Psychology, Hunter College, New York
August 2006 — May 2010


CV skills example

You’ve told the story of your career. Now you just have to pull out your most impressive skills so that busy recruiters can easily see what you bring to the job as a drug and alcohol counselor. Start by making a list of all your professional skills from which to cull for your CV. 

As a counselor, "people skills" and organizational strengths are key. But don’t neglect your hard skills — those necessary to do your specific job. Your resume should include a mix of both kinds of skills that show off your highest-level abilities. 

By all means highlight soft skills such as excellent communication and listening ability, compassion, and an in-depth understanding of addiction. Offset that list with the hard skills necessary to be a great counselor, including knowledge of behavioral issues leading to substance abuse, ability to design and implement effective treatment plans, and an understanding of the healthcare system. 

Next, be sure to analyze each job listing and focus your skills section on that job’s specific requirements. Making sure you personalize your application for each job pursued will help you get past the previously mentioned ATS that use algorithms to rank resumes. The skills section is ideal for using keywords and phrases that appear in the job listing. This will help raise your ATS ranking and get you into the hands of a person. 

Check out the drug and alcohol counselor CV sample for the skills section below.

  • Effective Communication
  • Mental Health Knowledge
  • Relationship Building
  • Addiction Therapy Treatment

Resume layout and design

Put the finishing touches on your resume with a clean, easy-to-read design. Create your resume using a dedicated builder tool such as Resume.io’s. This will prevent formatting errors that can occur when you start from scratch. 

We also suggest that you check out our collection of field-tested resume templates. Perhaps start browsing those in the professional or modern style categories, or take a look at some timelessly simple designs.  Any of these templates can be personalized to suit your preferences, but here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • Vary line lengths to leave plenty of white space.
  • Consider putting your LinkedIn profile in with your personal data in the resume header.
  • Use a legible font.
  • Keep color to a minimum.
  • Proofread (though our amazing resume spell-checker will protect you from typos and basic grammar mistakes)!

Your goal here is to make a great first impression and allow recruiters who are quickly scanning your resume to easily identify you and review job titles and section headings at a glance.

Key takeaways for a drug and alcohol counselor resume

  1. To compete in one of today’s most dynamic job markets, your drug and alcohol counselor resume should demonstrate your addictions knowledge and experience, plus your commitment as a therapist to helping those who are struggling.
  2. Custom-tailor each version of your resume to the hiring organization, zeroing in on your most relevant qualifications and how they could directly benefit the hiring organization.
  3. Make sure your resume looks the part of a professional, with consideration for how busy recruiters are and why it’s important to stand out in the applicant crowd.

You’ve already taken the first step. With Resume.io, you’ll soon be on your way to your next great job!

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