Substance Abuse Counselor I (#RS1021)
$21.39-$26.00 Hourly / $3,707.40-$4,506.37 Monthly / $44,488.88-$54,076.51 Yearly


Under supervision, performs group and individual counseling services in a San Joaquin County Substance Abuse Program; and does related or other work as required in accordance with Rule 3, Section 3 of the Civil Service Rules.


This is the first level in the Substance Abuse Counselor series. Incumbents assist in providing group and individual counseling to clients experiencing problems related to substance abuse. Incumbents are under close supervision as they are learning to apply principles of substance abuse counseling in various San Joaquin County Substance Abuse Programs. This class is distinguished from the Substance Abuse Counselor II in that the Substance Abuse Counselor II may work independently and possesses a current Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Counselor certificate issued by a certifying organization approved by the State of California. Typically, upon receipt of an AOD counselor certificate, Substance Abuse Counselor I incumbents advance to Substance Abuse Counselor II.


  • Conducts intake interviews; assists in collection of client data while learning the factors of addiction severity and level of care needed; learns to perform client physical checks, observations, and documenting client progress in conformance with Medi-Cal, state, federal, and county program requirements.
  • Obtains client background information; may complete financial information; collects fees; orients clients on program requirements.
  • Learns to conduct individual and group counseling sessions; discusses individual and family behavioral, social and psychological issues; learns to conduct educational group sessions dealing with legal issues and the effects of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Maintains records of assigned clients; documents progress notes, doctors’ appointments, court appearances, and other pertinent information; prepares routine reports and correspondence.
  • Learns to assist clients to establish plans to address social, cultural, familial and personal factors contributing to substance abuse.
  • Learns to identify community resources to refer clients to appropriate resources.
  • May transport clients to various community resources.
  • Learns to lead group discussions and education classes; works with groups to provide a supportive environment to encourage clients to remain substance free.
  • Conducts field work to identify clients and high-risk individuals; provides information about community resources and treatment programs available; provides follow-up counseling regarding risks associated with substance abuse; participates in development of programs for high-risk clients including prevention and educational activities with youth in community settings.
  • May verbally explain various written material and instructions for non-English speaking clients and families; assists staff in working with clients of other cultures.
  • Learns to provide financial and money management counseling and assistance to clients; reviews client financial resources; may assist clients in filing for benefits and State Disability; may assist clients with budgeting and managing income; coordinates efforts with various social service agencies to ensure proper receipt and accounting of income and expenses.
  • May be assigned to rotating shifts.


Education: Successful completion of 30 semester or 45 quarter units from an accredited college or university which included 12 semester or 15 quarter units in psychology, sociology, counseling, chemical dependency, or a closely related field.

Certification: Applicants shall have registered for Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Counselor certification in accordance with California Code of Regulations, Title 9, Chapter 8, commencing with Section 13000. Incumbents are required to obtain an AOD certificate issued by a certifying organization approved by the State of California within five years of appointment.  Failure to obtain AOD certification within the required timeframe may result in release from employment. 

License:  Possession of a valid California driver’s license if required by the nature of the assignment.


Laws, regulations, policies, and procedures relevant to a substance abuse program, including client confidentiality and Counselor’s Code of Conduct; basic principles and techniques of individual and group counseling; physiological, and sociological aspects of alcohol and other drug abuse and dependency; needs, problems, attitudes and behavior patterns of substance abuse clients; principles of public relations; reporting and record-keeping techniques; basic language mechanics; general office procedures; basic computer and modern office automation technology and computer software programs relevant to department operations; community resources and agencies.


Understand and apply regulations, policies, and procedures relevant to a substance abuse program; learn to facilitate individual and group counseling sessions; maintain client confidentiality; learn to analyze and evaluate situations accurately; learn to reason logically and draw valid conclusions; operate computers and related software; establish and maintain effective working relationships with clients, co-workers, community agencies and the public; maintain records and write reports; communicate effectively, both orally and in writing.


Mobility-  frequent sitting for long periods; operate a data entry device; some walking; occasional standing, pushing, pulling, bending, squatting, climbing; driving; Lifting-  frequent lifting of 5 pounds or less; occasional lifting of 5-30 pounds; Visual-  constant need for good, overall vision and reading/close-up work; frequent need for color perception and use of hand/eye coordination; occasional use of depth perception and peripheral vision; Dexterity- Frequent holding, reaching, repetitive motion, writing.  Hearing/Talking-  frequent need to hear normal speech, talk/hear on the telephone and talk in person;  Emotional/Psychological- frequent public contact, exposure to emotionally charged situations and distraught clients; deal with emergency situations; constant concentration; occasional exposure to trauma, grief, or death; Special Requirements- may require working weekends/nights; working alone; Environmental- occasional exposure to varied weather conditions.

San Joaquin County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and, upon request, will consider reasonable accommodations to enable individuals with disabilities to perform essential job functions. 

CLASS: RS1021; EST: 12/12/2001; REV: 4/10/2024;