Is a Career in the Addiction Recovery Field Right For You?
If you’re in recovery, you may have looked to the field of addiction treatment as a viable career option now that you’re sober and walking the path of recovery. If so, this article is for you! Working in the recovery field is rewarding for the people who choose it as a career, and especially so if you share the personal experience of being in recovery yourself.
But, the addiction recovery field is for allies and advocates, too. As a person who is an ally rather than a person in recovery myself, I’ve found the field to be incredibly rewarding. My Dad is in long-term recovery, and I’ve learned a lot from watching his journey. And for many allies and advocates like me, having a loved one in recovery is the motivator you need to join the field and do this work.
Let’s Talk Addiction Recovery Jobs
No matter what has sparked your interest in the field, it’s important to first think about all of the different roles the field of addiction recovery has to offer. There are many jobs that need to be filled by good, hardworking and, most of all, caring people who are dedicated to help others along the path of recovery.
Here are just a few potential addiction recovery careers:
In the field of addiction recovery, the alcohol and drug counselor is one of the first roles people think of.
Counselors are found in outpatient and residential treatment settings, helping people from all points in their journey through individual and group counseling, as well as teaching educational classes. They motivate people to change their thinking patterns and behaviors, while helping them access services, resources and learn new skills.
Called many things – ranging from addictions counselor to chemical dependency counselor – most states require licensure or certification, maturity in sobriety (if you’re a person in recovery) and either a 2- or 4-year college degree.
Therapists are clinical providers that have extensive experience and training in clinical counseling, either having a psychology or social work background. They are licensed to help people with their mental health, often combining mental health with addiction recovery, called dual-diagnosis or treatment for co-occurring disorders.
Therapists can be found in the treatment center setting, or in private practice working with a broader spectrum of clients.Therapists traditionally possess a Master’s degree and Masters-level certification or licensure, either with a clinical counseling or clinical social work background.
Technicians are usually employed in a residential treatment or sober housing environment, helping clients on a day-to-day basis. While the daily role of a tech may vary, they often assist clients with daily activities, recovery groups and more, and can become the liaison between client life and the clinical experience with a counselor.
Techs are typically required to have proven time in sobriety (if they’re a person living in long-term recovery). The requirements of technicians may vary, with some states requiring a certification or course, minimum age, or required education, like a high school diploma or 2-year degree.
- Peer-Recovery Specialist
Newer to the lineup of careers in the field of addiction recovery, peer recovery specialists are people in recovery from a substance use disorder who are able to use their personal experience as a mechanism to help others. Peer recovery specialists can be employed in treatment settings or in community-based recovery community organizations.
In order to become a peer recovery specialist, people must complete 40-60 hours of training (depending on the state), pass a certification exam, and maintain ongoing sobriety.
Direct care is important, but there’s still a lot of behind-the-scenes work to be done in the addiction recovery field, and that’s where administrative professionals come in. From administrative assistants to admissions coordinators to billing specialists, the administrative side of the addiction treatment field is how things stay on track and organized, which is invaluable in a fast-paced field like addiction recovery.
The requirements for administrative jobs depend on the job itself, but administrative positions can be great for people with a passion for the field, but an even greater passion for the administrative skills needed to keep treatment centers, recovery community organizations and halfway houses functioning effectively.
- Management and Entrepreneurship
Finally, there are others who exist more on the strategic side of things. If this is you, you might be interested in brainstorming a new nonprofit, leading a recovery community organization, launching a startup or managing a treatment center.
Executives, entrepreneurs and managers are those at the helm of the field, bringing new ideas and strategies to the forefront, all in efforts of making recovery possible for more and more people. Like in any business, all of the other helping roles in the field of addiction recovery need the manager, leader and entrepreneur to bring the vision together and make the day-to-day work possible.
While managing a treatment center or recovery organization might require an advanced clinical degree or an MBA, becoming an entrepreneur in the field is all about drive, grit, a great idea, and the tenacity to see it through.
Ready to Join the Recovery Workforce?
While there are other roles that haven’t been named in this list, these are the basics – and a great place to start evaluating your options if you’re considering the field of addiction recovery for your career.
The field is fast-paced and focused on helping others, but can often include long hours, paperwork and changing regulatory requirements with new healthcare laws. But, like any job, there are pros and cons that need to be navigated, and if you’re looking to the field of addiction recovery, hopefully the passion to help others is your driving force.
So, if you’re interested and ready to bring your skills to the table, then I hope this helps in giving you a little more information on how to best use your time and talents for recovery. For more information and reading, check out NAADAC, the association for addiction professionals, or your state licensing board to learn more about how you can start your educational or career journey in this rewarding, life-saving field.
Chances are good that your time in the field will be met with rewarding inspiration – lives changed, families reconciled and people forever transformed.
Have more to say? Let’s connect on Twitter – you can find me at @tori_utley. And you can always find more of my inspiring stories here on Pro Corner.
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