Exploring careers in addictions treatment

April 11, 2019

People who struggle with substance use disorders often find they cannot overcome their addiction without professional help.

If you're interested in guiding individuals as they work to get on the path to recovery, a career in addictions treatment may be for you.

“The majority of people who are interested in addictions treatment as a career want to interact directly with clients,” says Ann Melvin, PhD, a core faculty member in Capella’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “They have a passion for helping people acquire the tools they need to grow, change, and progress.” Addictions counselors may be employed in a variety of settings, including mental health centers, community health centers, and correctional facilities.

Advanced education and licensure equips addiction counselors with the skills they need to apply addiction theories and models to treatment, develop treatment protocols, analyze and research models, and deliver ethical, cultural, and ethnically sensitive services to clients.

Addictions counselors work with individuals both one-on-one, and in group settings. They do client assessments, write treatment plans, and help clients work through therapeutic programs. In some cases, they discuss family and friend dynamics with clients.

The opioid epidemic has heightened awareness about the prevalence of drug addictions in the United States. Many employers are eager to hire qualified addictions treatment professionals, notes Eileen O’Mara, PhD, core faculty member in Capella’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “Right now, our field is really in the public eye.”

O’Mara has worked in the addictions field since the 1970s, when drug culture began to boom in America. “Honestly, we knew very little then,” she says. But over the last half century, much research has been compiled regarding addictions and the efficacy of treatment. “We’ve learned how to treat people with complex addictions,” O’Mara says. “It’s very satisfying to help people get better.”

Learn more about Capella’s Master’s in Addiction Studies.

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