Nursing Salaries: How Much Does a Substance Misuse Nurse Make?

Substance misuse nurse salary prospects depend on factors like education level and experience. Explore bachelor's and master's nursing salary information.

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by Stefanie Grodman

Published September 8, 2022

Reviewed by Brandy Gleason, MSN, MHA, BC-NC

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Nursing Salaries: How Much Does a Substance Misuse Nurse Make?
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Many patients living with substance use disorders seek treatment in inpatient and outpatient facilities. Often, patients' physical health must be closely monitored by a team of medical professionals.

Substance misuse nurses oversee patients during their recovery, assist in the treatment of any substance-misuse related medical complications and administer medications. They also communicate with patients about their health. Substance misuse nurse salary potential depends on education level, licensure, location, and experience level.

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What Is the Average Substance Misuse Nurse Salary?

This 2021 salary information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) refers specifically to nursing professionals who work inoutpatient mental health and substance misuse treatment rather than general nursing.

Highest-Paying Substance Misuse Nurse Jobs

Often, high-paying nursing careersrequire master's degrees, and others require specific advanced practice nursing degrees. Professionals may also need to earn role-specific licenses or certifications, like by passing the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) certification exam.

Highest-Paying Substance Misuse Nurse Jobs
Substance Misuse Nurse Job Average or Median Annual Salary
Certified Addictions Registered Nurse (CARN) $86,000 as of 2022
Nursing Director $93,970 as of 2022
Nursing Practitioner $120,680 as of 2021
Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) $134,900 as of 2022
Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) $167,000 as of 2022

How Much Do Substance Misuse Nurses Make in Your State?

Salary prospects for nursing professionals vary considerably by region. Generally speaking, professionals who work in the northeast, west coast, Alaska, and Hawaii tend to earn higher salaries. Those who work in the midwest, southeast, and southwest tend to earn lower salaries. For example, registered nurses in California earned an average annual salary of $125,340 in 2021 as per the BLS. Registered nurses in Alabama earned an average of $61,920 in the same year.

Median Salary for Substance Misuse Nurses by State (2021)

The Highest-Paying States for Substance Misuse Nurses (by Median Salary, 2021)
Nursing Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
Alaska: $41,410
New York: $38,130
California: $37,440
Alaska: $61,670
California: $61,610
Washington: $61,150
California: $125,340
Hawaii: $111,070
Oregon: $99,420
California: $149,910
New Jersey: $129,250
New York: $128,210

Job Growth for Substance Misuse Nurses

Although COVID-19 has made planning for professional success feel more uncertainfor young professionals and people reentering the job market, nursing careers are consistently in demand. An aging baby-boom population necessitates more medical professionals. Plus, a spike in substance use and mental health challenges during the pandemic has also created a need for more medical professionals skilled in addiction recovery and rehabilitation.

Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects the number of roles for registered nurses to grow by 9%, accounting for 276,800 new jobs. During the same period, the BLS projects jobs for nurse midwives to grow by 11% and jobs for nurse anesthetists to grow by 13%. Nurse practitioners currently have one of the most in-demand jobs in the country. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects a 52% job growth rate.

What Nursing Field Pays the Most?

Nurse anesthetists (CRNA) are among the highest-paid nursing professionals. Payscale indicates that as of 2022, these workers earned an average of $167,000 per year. These specialists are responsible for administering general anesthesia, local anesthesia, and other pain management services. They use factors like the patient's age, weight, and allergy information to determine appropriate dosages.

Other lucrative nursing careers include:

Does More Education Lead to a Higher Substance Misuse Nurse Salary?

BSN Salary

Often, bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programsconsist of biology, anatomy, physiology, and social sciences courses. These programs prepare learners to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 56% of registered nurses hold this bachelor's degree. Although many graduates go on to work as registered nurses, graduates can work in many areas of medicine and medical research.

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses are central to the care team. Nurses may assess patients, conduct diagnostic tests, and operate specialized machinery. They may also identify concerning symptoms and administer medications. RNs may work in more specialized areas like neonatal care or critical care.

Median Salary (May 2021)
$77,600


Clinical Research Nurse

Clinical research nurses provide and coordinate care for patients participating in medical research, including experimental treatments and drug trials. Usually, these nurses complete several years of training in addition to their BSN to gain familiarity with research methods and how these may differ from conventional medical protocols.

Average Salary (August 2022)
$73,270


Certified Addictions Registered Nurse (CARN)

Addiction nurses primarily work in rehabilitation, psychiatric, or substance misuse treatment facilities. They often educate patients on their treatment plans. They may also administer medications and monitor patients during medically and psychologically challenging periods, such as during withdrawal.

Average Salary (March 2022)
$86,000


MSN Salary

A master of science in nursing (MSN) prepares professionals for careers in leadership, education, or advanced practice registered nursing (APRN), like nurse practitioner. Many RNs earn this degree to access high-level nursing or leadership roles and increase their salary potential. Master's students may choose concentrations like nursing administration or clinical nursing to refine their training.

Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

Clinical nurse specialists are advanced practice registered nurses that manage patient care within clinical departments like pediatrics or oncology. They supervise and direct nursing professionals using concrete medical outcomes and patient experiences to shape training and policy. In certain states, they may need to hold a CNS certification in addition to their master's degree.

Average Salary (August 2022)
$94,520


Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

Nurse anesthetists specialize in administering local and general anesthesia, often working autonomously. These nurses are experts in critical care nursing and are responsible for evaluating patients' needs and health profiles to deliver appropriate dosages.

Average Salary (July 2022)
$167,000


Nurse Practitioner

Generally, these nurses are qualified to deliver more advanced medical care than RNs. They may conduct examinations and recommend, perform, and analyze diagnostic tests. In addition, they may provide a diagnosis, prescribe medication, and discuss treatment plans with patients.

Median Salary (May 2021)
$120,680


DNP Salary

Although doctoral degrees are usually not required in the nursing field, doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees can help APRN professionals secure more high-ranking leadership, clinical practice, and research positions. DNPs can also help nursing professionals access more competitive instructor positions and work as industry leaders in more prestigious settings.

Director of Nursing Research

Directors of nursing research often work in pharmaceuticals, teaching hospitals and other academic institutions. They work closely with research teams to analyze methods and findings and implement evidence-based nursing practices. These professionals also seek grants and funding to drive research efforts.

Average Salary (August 2022)
$93,970


Nursing Professor

These instructors teach elements of nursing in classroom, lab, and clinical settings. Although exact expertise may vary based on an instructor's area of specialization, these professionals need highly developed backgrounds in areas like human anatomy and physiology. Many professors conduct research in addition to teaching.

Median Salary (May 2021)
$77,440


Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)

Chief nursing officers lead nursing departments and ensure quality patient care and exceptional outcomes. They work with directors to ensure that staff adhere to institutional policies and safety protocols and may oversee staffing and training activities. They may also handle budgetary activities such as investing in equipment, evaluating expenses, or corresponding with donors.

Average Salary (August 2022)
$134,900


Frequently Asked Questions About Substance Misuse Nurse Salaries

What is the nurse's role in substance misuse?

Many patients require a combination of psychiatric and medical treatments while recovering from substance misuse disorders. Often, nurses work closely with doctors and mental health professionals to oversee patients' recovery. They may communicate with patients regularly to educate them on the risks of substance use and reinforce coping strategies to help patients maintain sobriety.

Nurses often administer medication to reduce the pain and discomfort that patients experience during withdrawal. In some cases, addiction nurses may monitor unstable vital signs or other substance-related complications, such as infection.

Can I become a substance misuse nurse with an online degree?

Substance abuse nurses typically need to hold a BSN degree. While many hybrid programs allow learners to take online courses or lectures, most nursing programs consist of some in-person clinical training.

Some recent college graduates are concerned that online or hybrid coursework may hinder their ability to land a good job. However, many institutions award the same bachelor's degrees to in-person, hybrid, and virtual students.

Although regulations vary by state, aspiring substance misuse nurses may need to supplement their BSN with the Addictions Nursing Certification Board's certified addictions registered nurse (CARN) credential.

Can I become a substance misuse nurse without a degree?

Typically, registered nurses must hold BSN degrees, and advanced practice nurses must hold MSN degrees, in addition to any role-specific licenses or certifications. However, people interested in entering more supportive medical roles in addiction recovery fields can find occupations that require less education.

For example, people can typically complete CNA or nursing assistant training programs in just 4-12 weeks. Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses can often complete LPN training programs in as few as 6-12 months.

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