If you are on lookout for a career within the healthcare sector and would like to make a real difference, then becoming a specialist in substance abuse is one way you can help tackle one of the most serious problems facing the U.S. today. Sadly, there is no denying that drug abuse and resultant addiction are one of the most severe problems facing the country and one that is prevalent in every single state. In fact, it is estimated that over twenty-one million Americans are addicted to opioids, cocaine, alcohol, or myriad other habit-forming substances.
In fact, this is a problem that is only getting worse, underscoring the need for committed professionals to tackle the issue. To give a pretty depressing figure, the number of deaths from drug overdoses has tripled since 1990, and only 10% of the aforementioned American addicts seek treatment for their habit. Furthermore, drug addiction affects more people than just the addicts themselves. Family members and young children in particular are always severely impacted by serious addictions. Addiction specialists exist to do something about this problem.
What Does an Addiction Specialist Do?
According to nationwide health jobs boards Health Jobs Nationwide, addiction specialists work with the addicts themselves, fulfilling a therapeutic role to help them overcome addiction. The responsibilities and duties of an addiction specialist are as diverse as addiction itself. Accordingly, the first thing an addiction specialist has to do is assess the nature of each individual addiction problem, which requires a level of input from the addict themselves. An addiction specialist then recommends treatment, assesses the likelihood of relapse, and provides strategies to help prevent it.
Addiction specialists will also work closely with the families of addicts, providing them with advice on how to support the addict in their recovery and to prevent relapse. This role is particularly important because successful recovery relies very much on the social support of an addict’s family and friends. There is only so much a health professional can do. Long-lasting recovery requires a support network and so the addiction specialist will help in creating one and arm those people with the information and advice required.
Addiction specialists are employed in a very wide variety of contexts. As an addiction specialist, you could find yourself working in a hospital, detox center, inpatient treatment center, or a plethora of government agencies.
Becoming and Addiction Specialist
Right now is in fact a great time to enter this profession. This is in reaction to the unfortunately growing need for it and because of improved provision for those with substance abuse problems, there has been a sharp increase in the number of jobs available for those looking to move into this career. How you precisely go about becoming an addiction therapist however is a very diverse process. “Addiction specialist” is not a single job; in fact, it covers a range of different positions, from specialized addiction therapists with expertise in specific areas of the field (or even expertise in recovery from addiction to individual substances), to licensed counsellors who also work in other fields.
The first step to becoming an addiction therapist, therefore, is to get a relevant degree. Precisely what degree that is can vary but must often addiction specialists begin with a bachelor’s degree in psychology or behavioral health. After that, most addiction specialists also become licensed counsellors, which requires a master’s degree. A specialized certificate in addiction is usually the next step.
After this, you can begin to specialize and search for roles fitting your interests on various health job boards such as Health Jobs Nationwide. Ultimately, it all depends on what you want to specialize in.