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Which Types of Addiction Professionals Should Be on Your Team?


Developing clinical staffing for a substance abuse rehab facility depends upon the services and treatment modalities you are planning to offer. Is your goal to differentiate the facility in the market by offering silos of services like detox, residential, or PHP? Or, is your goal the full continuum of care?

Do you anticipate offering group therapy or eye movement therapy? What is your plan for JCAHO or CARP accreditation? Depending on your focus, there are several different types of healthcare professionals you may want to include on staff.

This article explores common types of addiction specialists and what they do. Building your dream team is possible when the right addiction specialists are selected.

Types of Addiction Specialists

While drug and alcohol rehab centers can be a profitable business model, what is particularly compelling for most providers is their focus on offering quality care to addicted patients so they can regain their mental and physical health. It is for this reason that choosing the organizational structure of your fledgling facility is so important; people are relying on your team to help them heal.

If you are planning on opening the doors to a new facility, there are a variety of addiction specialists from which to choose. For example:

  • Addiction Counselors can help patients change behaviors to curb their alcohol, drug, or substance abuse. According to NAADAC, The Association of Addiction Professionals, job growth for these credentialed professionals will improve by 22 percent through 2024. These roles are often fill-in positions under the clinical supervision of a psychologist or psychiatrist. Addiction Counselors may have an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s Degree.
  • Addiction Psychiatrists have a doctorate and are typically certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Addiction Medicine. These physicians typically prescribe medications to treat drug relapse symptoms or for psychological disorders and may provide therapy as well.
  • Addiction Psychologists, like their counterparts in psychiatry, are doctoral-prepared, certified professionals. Unlike psychiatrists, who focus on medications, psychologists engage in a variety of therapeutic techniques designed to improve the health of their patients.
  • Addiction Medicine Physicians receive an undergraduate degree, attend medical school, a four-year residency, a one- to two-year fellowship, and then must pass a certification exam through the American Board of Addiction Medicine. It is no wonder there is a tremendous shortage of these physicians in the country; currently there are only 45 fellowship programs offered and those limited numbers of seats remain unfilled by qualified clinicians.
  • Substance Abuse Social Workers typically are masters prepared in social work, and may also be certified by the National Association of Social Workers. These professionals must be licensed to practice in the state where they work. They are expert in navigating the safety net in order to get their clients the help that they need.

Choosing the right professionals to fill your organizational chart will make or break your facility. Understanding your unique goals and treatment modalities will help determine the right type of addiction specialists for your team.

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