Addiction and Recovery Careers

Discover why a career in addiction and recovery is a rewarding choice, with job growth and opportunities in various settings.
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Lorraine Mumby
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Lorraine Mumby is an editor for BestColleges who focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion. She is passionate about equipping students with the tools to succeed and have meaningful, equitable educational experiences. Lorraine has a bachelor's degre...
Updated on April 16, 2024
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Raneem Taleb-Agha is a copy editor for BestColleges. Previously, she worked as a bilingual educator in both the U.S. and Spain before transitioning to editing and writing. She holds a BA in Spanish and Near Eastern Studies from UC Berkeley....
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Portions of the following article were drafted using an in-house natural language generation platform. The article was then reviewed, fact-checked, and edited by multiple members of our editorial team prior to publishing.

  • An addiction and recovery career offers job opportunities, job security, and a fulfilling experience in helping individuals overcome substance use.
  • The field is expected to grow significantly in the next decade, with a projected job growth of 18% between 2022-2032.
  • There are various career paths within addiction and recovery, including roles such as substance use counselor, addiction therapist, and clinical rehabilitation specialist.
  • Online programs offer a flexible and accessible way to obtain a degree in addiction and recovery.

Are you looking for a fulfilling career that makes a positive impact on people's lives? Consider a career in addiction and recovery.

This field offers a variety of opportunities in areas such as substance use counseling, addiction therapy, and clinical rehabilitation.

With a degree in addiction and recovery and state licensure or certification, you can work in a range of settings to help individuals overcome substance use. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of pursuing a career in addiction and recovery and the job outlook for professionals in this field.

Why Pursue a Career in Addiction and Recovery?

A career in addiction and recovery is a rewarding choice for those who want to make a positive difference in people's lives. The field is growing at an impressive rate, with many job opportunities and a degree of job security.

You will witness profound transformations in people's lives as they overcome substance use and enhance their quality of life. Further education and specialization can also open the door to advancement and increased income.

Addiction and Recovery Career Paths

Pursuing a degree in addiction and recovery opens up a variety of career paths. Here are some potential fields of employment:

Substance Use Counseling

You will work directly with individuals addicted to drugs or alcohol, offering personal or group therapy and consulting with the family members of clients. You'll be skilled in identifying, assessing, and addressing addiction. You'll also learn to discover the root causes of addictive behaviors.

Addiction Therapy

As an addiction therapist, you'll work in a clinical setting helping individuals understand their addiction and developing tailored treatment strategies. This role often involves close work with other healthcare professionals to provide a holistic approach to treatment.

Clinical Rehabilitation

In a clinical rehabilitation role, you'll offer specialized medical care in either inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation centers. This can involve working with patients to develop personalized treatment plans, monitor progress, and adjust treatment strategies as needed.

Addiction Treatment Care

As an addiction treatment caregiver, you'll ensure that patients in treatment centers adhere to guidelines and progress on their path to recovery. This can involve everything from administering medication to providing emotional support.

Nutrition Services

As a nutritionist or dietitian, you can work in treatment centers or clinics to help individuals with addiction improve their diets throughout their recovery journey. A balanced diet can play a crucial role in recovery, helping to repair physical damage caused by addiction and boosting overall health.

Popular Online Addiction and Recovery Programs

Online programs offer an accessible and flexible option for those pursuing a degree in addiction and recovery. These programs offer the same rigorous coursework as traditional on-campus programs but with the added convenience of allowing you to complete coursework from anywhere with an internet connection. However, you will still likely have to complete an internship or clinical practice hours in person.

Whether you're looking to complete an associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree, there are a variety of online programs in addiction and recovery. Be sure to research each program thoroughly to ensure it aligns with your career goals and educational needs.

Skills Gained With an Addiction and Recovery Degree

An addiction and recovery degree provides a comprehensive set of skills that are critical in addressing substance use and related mental health issues, including:

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    Case Management

    Students learn to coordinate resources for patient aid. This skill is crucial in ensuring that patients receive the necessary care and support throughout their recovery journey.
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    Diagnosis and Intake

    This skill involves learning to identify signs of drug misuse and determining suitability for various programs. Accurate diagnosis and intake are key first steps in developing a suitable treatment plan for individuals struggling with substance use.
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    Assessment and Treatment Planning

    Students learn to compile a client's history, use assessment instruments, and formulate treatment strategies. Creating effective treatment plans is crucial for guiding individuals through their recovery journey.
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    Crisis Intervention

    This skill equips students to handle severe distress or trauma in clients. Being able to effectively intervene in a crisis can be a critical turning point in a person's recovery.

Addiction and Recovery Career Outlook

The addiction and recovery field is anticipated to grow significantly over the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment opportunities for substance use, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors will rise by 18% between 2022 and 2032, driven by the rising opioid epidemic in the United States.

The median salary for substance use and mental health counselors was $53,710 as of May 2023, according to the BLS. The top 10% of earners made a median of $82,710. Workers with more experience and education can often command higher salaries.

Where Can You Work as an Addiction and Recovery Professional?

Addiction and recovery professionals can find employment across a variety of settings. Here are some common industries where these professionals work:

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    Outpatient Care Centers

    Outpatient care centers provide treatment services to patients who do not require overnight hospitalization. These facilities often offer flexible schedules and a variety of treatment programs.
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    Individual and Family Services

    Agencies providing individual and family services employ addiction and recovery professionals to support clients who are struggling with substance use. These professionals may work as counselors, therapists, or case managers.
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    Residential Rehabilitation Facilities

    Residential facilities offer comprehensive care for individuals with mental health or substance use disorders. Addiction and recovery professionals working in these settings provide personalized treatment plans and support for residents.
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    Offices of Other Health Practitioners

    Addiction and recovery professionals can work in clinics with doctors, therapists, and psychologists to create a holistic approach to patient care.
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    Local Government

    Local government agencies often employ addiction and recovery professionals to provide community-based services. These professionals may work as counselors, social workers, or program managers.

How to Start Your Career in Addiction and Recovery

Starting your career in addiction and recovery begins with earning a degree in addiction counseling, psychology, or social work. Depending on your career goals, you may have to go beyond a bachelor's-level education and earn a master's or doctoral degree.

Depending on your chosen career path, you may need to earn state licensure or certification to practice. This could involve completing fieldwork or clinical hours. You can also gain experience through internships or entry-level positions. Remember, the pathway to a career in addiction and recovery can vary greatly depending on your individual goals, interests, and circumstances.

Resources for Addiction and Recovery Professionals

There are numerous resources available to assist addiction and recovery professionals in their professional journey. Here are some key resources:

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations for addiction and recovery professionals offer networking opportunities, professional development, and access to resources.

NAADAC is a leading organization for addiction professionals, offering education, advocacy, and resources to enhance the quality of addiction treatment and support individuals struggling with substance use disorders. IAAOC is a division of the American Counseling Association that focuses on supporting counselors working with individuals dealing with addiction and criminal justice involvement. They provide training, research, and advocacy to improve outcomes for these populations. NAATP is a membership organization representing addiction treatment providers across the United States. They advocate for quality care, ethical practices, and evidence-based treatment approaches in addiction treatment.


Publications can provide valuable insights into current trends, research, and best practices in the field. Some recommended publications include

The official publication of NAADAC, this publication focuses on the latest research, trends, and addiction treatment and recovery developments. It offers insights into evidence-based practices, innovative therapies, and strategies for addressing substance use disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do addiction and recovery counselors make?

Sometimes called substance use counselors, addiction and recovery counselors earn a median annual salary of $49,710. Factors like education, experience, certifications, and work setting can affect how much you earn.

The lowest 10% of earners make less than $34,580, and the highest 10% of earners earn more than $82,710.

Earning an addiction and recovery degree opens doors to various roles such as addiction counselor, substance use counselor, social worker, clinical rehabilitation specialist, and health educator.

You can find these positions in diverse settings like healthcare facilities, treatment centers, and educational institutions. An advanced degree can even lead to a career as a clinical psychologist or addiction research scientist.

Earning a degree in addiction and recovery can be extremely rewarding and offers a stable job market, with a projected job growth of 18% over the next decade.

This field allows you to make a significant impact in people's lives. It's important to weigh your passion for the field, the educational costs, and your potential earnings when deciding if this career path is the right choice for you. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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