If you (or a loved one) are struggling with substance abuse and addiction, the chances are you need a team of treatment professionals to help you achieve life-long sobriety, and rebuild your life. Your first instinct is probably to browse through the internet, but you’ll only come across different types of addiction specialists, with overlapping job descriptions, and questionable qualifications.

To find the right expert in the addiction treatment field to address the level of care you need, you first need to understand what an addiction treatment specialist is. You’ll also need to check which credentials to look for, and which treatment programs and treatment facility is the best choice for YOU. 

Below, you can find a short guide to answering all these questions, which should help you make up your mind regarding what kind of recovery center, treatment plans, and addiction treatment specialist can help address your particular stage of recovery. 

What Addiction Specialists Do:

Addiction treatment specialists are professionals who stand by you every step of the way on your road to physical and mental health. These drug and alcohol treatment experts provide medical detox services, psychotherapy, counseling, and even family therapy sessions depending on their particular field of expertise. You are likely to work with more than one professional throughout your treatment. 

Your addiction treatment specialist will:

  1.  Get a detailed history of your drug addictions or alcohol addictions, as well as your overall health, previous treatments, and any past treatments or mental health issues. 
  2. Help you with drugs or alcohol detox, and teach you how to build a dependable, support/accountability system and productive everyday routine that gives you the best chance of lifelong sobriety. 
  3. Provide medical and emotional support throughout your recovery process, free from judgment, stigma, or shame.

You can choose from a wide set of addiction professionals to provide the best care for your particular needs: an ASAM-certified (American Society of Addiction Medicine) addictionologist, various mental health treatment experts, board-certified psychiatrists, social workers, licensed psychotherapists, physicians, and more. 

The worst thing to do would be to just look up an opioid addiction facility near you. Instead of location, you should be focusing on the treatment facilities that best fit your substance abuse and mental health condition, as well as your budget. 

Nearly every addiction center will provide you with answers to questions regarding the services they provide, the cost and approximate recovery time, and the type of experts that work for them. They will also provide short discussions regarding your substance abuse, previous rehab program experience, any co-occurring disorder you were diagnosed, as well as alcohol or drug addiction treatment you would prefer. 

The expert in treating addictions can then recommend an inpatient or outpatient treatment options, an appropriate treatment facility if need be, or a referral for a different expert who might be a better fit for you. Also, some healthcare professionals you’ll be working with have experienced addiction themselves, and a number of clients claim that talking to people who recognize the struggle from personal experience and came out clean on the other side is of immeasurable value.

Addiction Treatment Specialists’ Credentials

Addiction treatment experts are usually addiction physicians and/or addiction psychiatrists who hold subspecialty board certification from the American Board of Preventive Medicine. They may also hold subspecialty board certification in addiction psychiatry from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Another field of work may include board certification in addiction medicine from the American Board of Addiction Medicine or a Certificate of Added Qualification in Addiction Medicine they received from the American Osteopathic Association.

You might also come across counselors, coaches or even former addicts who take pride in these academic accomplishments since substance abuse is unfortunately common among medical workers.

These people demonstrate the kind of academic background, experience, and knowledge necessary for treating drug or alcohol addiction, as well as any mental illness that comes with such conditions. They provide prevention, intervention, guided recovery, cognitive behavioral therapy, drug testing, and mental health services administration in general terms to help you achieve life-long sobriety, and rebuild your life.

Regardless of whether your symptoms and complications of addictions are psychiatric or physical in nature, these addiction treatment professionals can help you fight it, and WIN. 

Most importantly, addiction recovery counselors and therapists help you find your footing once your therapy is finished – they guide your family and friends in their role as your support system, provide guided excursions and travel if need be, and rebuild the confidence and self-respect you need to start living a happy, addiction-free life.

What Are the Different Types of Addiction Specialties?

Depending on your particular addiction, mental health issue, and medical history, you might need help from a particular expert or several addiction specialists simultaneously. Take a look at some subtypes of addiction treatment specializations: 

Addiction Psychiatrists. The main focus of addiction psychiatrist is your medication treatment. They may choose to engage in one-on-one therapy sessions or not. They are experienced with people who have experienced several relapse episodes and know how to deliver drugs or alcohol treatment that will facilitate lifelong sobriety. Addiction psychiatrists can also prescribe medications that will help with withdrawal symptoms, and drug cravings to help you follow through. Addiction psychiatrists can also address comorbidity such as bipolar disease, depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, etc. They have a Ph.D. degree, and usually hold the American Board of Addiction Medicine and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology certifications. 

Addiction Psychologists. Psychologists cannot prescribe medications and instead provide conversation-based therapy. The talk therapy can help you bear the emotional burden of battling addiction both while you are in inpatient care, and throughout your life. They provide long-term coping mechanisms including breathing and relaxation exercises you could apply any time you feel like you want to use again. They also help you get over your past trauma and move on with your life via methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, 12-step programs, and family therapy. 

Psychotherapists. Unlike psychologists and psychiatrists, psychotherapists do not necessarily have any academic degrees, and mostly engage in talk therapy. They do mostly need specialized licenses and certifications from specialized courses and programs to be able to deliver psychotherapy. You can easily check them for credentials on their online profiles. Some psychiatrists and psychologists have completed psychotherapy courses as additional training.

Addiction Medicine Physicians. Withdrawal from substance abuse can be extremely dangerous for a person’s physical, as much as mental health. When addicts are left to fend for themselves, some withdrawals might even be lethal. This is why addiction medicine physicians are important. Certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine, they take good care of your physical health and well-being while you’re undergoing withdrawal therapy. 

Interventionists. Before you even start undergoing therapy, you need to admit that you have a problem, and accept being subjected to therapy. For many people, this is the hardest part. A Certified Intervention Professional is there to help guide your family, friends, or partner, people who represent your support group, towards helping you recognize your alcohol and drug abuse as a problem, and seek help. They work both with addicts and family members who resist the necessary process of recovery. 

Substance Abuse Social Workers. Substance abuse social workers evaluate and treat addicts. They offer counseling services and help people with drugs and alcohol addiction issues find additional resources and services to help them recover and live an addiction-free life. Substance Abuse Social Workers usually have a master’s degree in Social Work and a license to practice in their respective state. Some are certified by the National Association of Social Workers.

Addiction, Alcohol, and Drug, or Substance Abuse Counselors. A more affordable solution than psychologists and psychiatrists, substance abuse counselors might have anything from a high school degree to a master’s degree. They offer counseling services and can help you through the painstaking process of staying clean in the long-run. If you’re looking for this type of counselor, make sure they have some type of relevant certification, such as the National Certified Addiction Counselor designation. They cannot prescribe medication or diagnose a mental illness. Substance abuse counselors are recommended as a separate, additional element of your treatment, that should usually rely primarily on more academically recognized resources. 

Recovery Coaches. Unlike the above-mentioned addiction treatment specialists, recovery coaches do not diagnose or treat your addiction. Instead, they help you coordinate and find the right resources to maximize your chances of overcoming addiction and living out the rest of your life in sobriety. They help addicts find employment, conduct random drug testing, and help you stay focused on your goal of leading a fulfilling, stable life. 

Finding an Addiction Treatment Specialist

When shopping for an addiction treatment specialist, make sure you get the help you need with regard to the particular set of substance use disorders you or your loved ones suffer from. Make sure you aim for professionals who specialize in addiction in some way. Even the best psychiatrist out there is not a good choice, since you need a person to address your alcohol addictions and/or drug addictions. Sober living is your ultimate goal, and only a trained addiction counselor can help you. 

Please call us today if you have any questions or need help to select a specialist! You might also consider using these websites to find an appropriate provider for addiction recovery. If you are ready to seek a way out of your addiction and start living a happy, fulfilling life…

Don’t waste another week, day, or hour. 

Call us on (619) 630-7844 to get in contact with a compassionate treatment expert.