Careers in Addiction Recovery: What You Need to Know

October 6, 2018 |

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If you find yourself searching for the right career path or in need of a strong purpose in life, becoming part of the addiction-treatment community might be worth considering. Careers in the addiction recovery field are in great demand, often because the rate of turnover can be high.

Studies show that one in three substance abuse counselors in American treatment facilities leave their jobs annually, so people wanting a career in addiction recovery are always in high demand.1 Knowing something about the role professionals play in the recovery process can help you decide if a career in addiction recovery medicine and related services is right for you.

Counselors, Therapists and Doctors

The primary job that comes to mind when people think of recovery is the addiction counselor. Some addiction counselors are licensed psychiatrists and others have a master’s degree in counseling with a concentration in substance abuse or addiction. Both psychologists and psychiatrists are employed by hospitals, treatment facilities or work in private practice, and each play a specific role in the addiction recovery process.

Psychologists focus on understanding the cause of addiction through talk therapy and help those in recovery learn coping strategies for dealing with drug cravings, recognizing triggers and avoiding relapse. Psychologists also oversee group therapy sessions and provide family counseling to help repair relationships between the addict and their family members.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have completed medical school, spent one year as interns and three years as residents in the assessment and treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists are able to diagnose any underlying mental illness that is contributing to or causing the addiction and prescribe medications to aid in their patients’ recovery.

Administrative Workers

A position in administrative support is an ideal job for those in recovery or for anyone who wants to break into the addiction treatment field. These individuals answer phones, speak with prospective patients, and get them registered for rehab. They are often the first person new treatment candidates see when entering a program, and they manage the financial details of every patient’s treatment plan.

Social Workers

Sometimes referred to as “case managers,” these professionals are licensed in their field and generally possess master’s degrees. Addiction social workers provide support to the families of addicted individuals, develop treatment plants and do assessments and offer counseling to both individuals and groups. Social workers are also part of teams made of up physicians, nurses, psychologists and others who develop appropriate treatment plans for patients struggling with addiction.2

Vocational Counselors

Vocational counselors assist those in recovery with career placement. They can help patients find out which career field suits them and assist in securing positions in those fields. They can also help patients find ways to be happier in the field they were in before entering treatment. Most states require a master’s degree for licensing in this field, but some only require a bachelor’s degree.3

Nurses and Detox Support Specialists

Nurses are often the most in-demand profession in the rehabilitation sector. Nurses are needed during patient intake to monitor vitals and assist with lab tests. They perform regular drug screenings on patients and oversee them during detox.

Nurses are important to the detox process as they monitor patients and ensure they are comfortable and safe. The overall detox process is also overseen by detox support specialists. These specialists are generally consulting physicians who monitor the process from start to finish.

Sober Companions and Drug and Alcohol Workers

Sober companions make the transition from the controlled environment of the treatment facility to home a little smoother. Often known as “sober coaches,” these individuals help prepare an addict’s home by removing potential triggers and any residual substances left behind that could be abused.

Sober companions also provide around-the-clock support for the person in recovery until she is ready for life on her own. Some sober escorts have been certified through informal organizations, but this step is not required for employment. Having personal experience managing addiction is often part of the journey of someone who become a sober companion.

Not for Everyone

Working in the recovery field isn’t for everyone. If you’ve had a personal struggle with addiction, you may be thinking spending your days at a rehab facility could only strengthen your resistance to substance abuse, but this isn’t always the case. When you’re working in this field, you aren’t the person addicted anymore.

Most of the positions associated with addiction allow for someone in recovery to work in the field, but employers will want to see a lengthy recovery period to evaluate the risk of relapse.

No matter your personal history with addiction, having a reliable support network is an important part of working in the recovery field. Having people you can talk to about the challenges you see on a daily basis makes them easier to handle. A therapist, counselor or support group can help you be the best you possible for those you are helping.

Finding Help for Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline, 615-490-9376, 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.

By Patti Richards, Contributing Writer


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