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Careers in Addiction Treatment

A career in addiction treatment provides life-saving support for people who are trying to overcome a debilitating disease. Learn more about the many types of roles available.

Join our team.

Behind the best addiction treatment facilities are multidisciplinary teams of medical professionals and  support staff. These people help individuals struggling with substance addiction begin the path toward lifelong recovery. Each one plays an essential role in the treatment process and beyond.

Educational requirements can vary widely within these careers, ranging from high school diplomas to medical degrees that can require more than a decade to receive. At the core of each staff member is a caring individual who wishes to help others lead healthier lives.

America has a high demand for workers in addiction treatment and behavioral health careers. In 2018, around 21.2 million Americans aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment, but only 3.7 million received it. Many areas of the U.S. lack mental health professionals, but an increase in recovery-focused roles could help close this treatment gap.

Table of Contents

The Future of the Industry

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is projected to increase by 22% through 2028. Additionally, the need for social workers is expected to increase by 11% within the same time frame.

Technology has also made it easier to provide treatment to people with reduced access to professional support. Known as “telehealth,” it has become the next frontier in addiction treatment and recovery support.

Telehealth and Closing the Gap 

Potential and current rehab clients have shown interest in telehealth services, but many centers do not offer it or fail to offer it in a meaningful capacity. However, the benefits of telehealth are numerous.

Telehealth increases access to life-changing health care for patients with transportation, scheduling or financial barriers. Its flexibility allows for continuous support outside the facility and it can improve the quality of care for remote patients. More and more facilities are working on expanding their telehealth services due to increased demand.

Working remotely as a therapist or counselor does not typically require additional credentials, which allows professionals to transition into telehealth roles without further training.

Types of Jobs in Behavioral Health and Addiction

Roles in behavioral health and addiction treatment range from doctors to social workers to administrative staff. They often work in residential facilities, outpatient programs, therapist’s offices, and online telehealth platforms.

The job requirements and essential duties vary widely, but the following review can give you a better understanding of the typical roles found in treatment facilities. 

Counselors, Doctors and Therapists 

These professionals create a plan for the patient’s treatment and oversee the process of recovery. Many roles require a master’s degree as well as medical licensing. Roles include:

  • Addiction Specialist/Substance Abuse Counselors: These individuals provide one-on-one support and advice to clients and help them learn how to cope without turning to substances. These positions require state licensing, and required certifications vary by state.
  • Mental Health Counselors: These individuals assess, diagnose and treat mental health disorders and provide counseling therapy. The role requires a master’s degree, state licensing and certifications that vary by state.
  • Psychologists: These individuals assess, diagnose and treat people who have mental health disorders. The role requires a doctorate degree and state licensing.
  • Psychiatrists: These individuals diagnose and treat mental health disorders, but they can also prescribe medications for treatment. The role requires a medical degree and state licensing.
  • Teletherapists: These individuals are essentially mental health counselors who provide therapy and support through online services.
  • Marriage and Family Therapists: These individuals help clients improve communication and work through problems with loved ones and family members. The role requires a master’s degree and state licensing.

Nurses and Detox Specialists 

Detox specialists help clients through the detoxification process, which is typically the first step of treatment. Throughout the uncomfortable detox period, these specialists create and follow plans that allow clients to manage withdrawal symptoms safely.

Nurses specialize in monitoring and treating patients for substance use disorders within the facility. They are also able to give support for mental health conditions. Nurses help provide pain management throughout a client’s stay and important information about substance abuse and its dangers. The role requires a nursing degree.

Behavioral Health Technicians

Doctors in rehab facilities require support for hands-on care, which is where behavioral health technicians step in. These technicians assist clients with daily tasks and help carry out the doctor’s orders. 

These roles require a bachelor’s degree, but most states do not require licensing. Behavioral health technicians are also known as paraprofessionals, psychiatric technicians and mental health technicians.

Social Workers 

Social workers help clients in a variety of ways during the treatment process and beyond. These social workers help uncover underlying issues behind substance abuse and address them, which helps clients have a better chance at long-term recovery. Among their many duties, social workers facilitate resources and support for clients as they leave treatment. They also act as case managers to help individuals navigate life situations.

Social workers require a master’s degree and state licensing in most situations.

Administrative and Other Roles

There are a variety of other roles that do not require higher education or degrees related to medicine. These include:

  • Dieticians: These professionals help create nutrition plans for clients, which can work to treat vitamin deficiencies and other conditions caused by substance use.
  • Maintenance Workers: These staff members keep the building in clean, working order.
  • Administrative Roles: These may include positions in operations, human resources, customer service, marketing, finance and more.
  • Vocational Counselors: These include financial counselors, life coaches, job placement professionals and other roles that help clients improve day-to-day life after treatment.

Available Positions at The Recovery Village

The Recovery Village has several facilities throughout the United States, and we are always looking to add new professionals to our team of industry-leading experts. In addition to positions at one of our facilities, jobs are also available nationally through our telehealth platform. Our evidence-based approach to addiction treatment has made us one of the first organizations to be designated as a Blue Distinction Center for Substance Use Treatment. We are accredited by The Joint Commission, and our staff collectively holds over 3,000 professional credentials.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “2018 NSDUH Annual National Report.” August 20, 2019. Accessed April 9, 2020.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors.” September 4, 2019. Accessed April 9, 2020.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Social Workers.” September 4, 2019. Accessed April 9, 2020.

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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