An addiction specialist works with people to help them overcome their addictions and lead better lives. This type of specialist may work at a treatment center or in a prevention program and may help people of all ages. Counseling is often a large part of the job, and this type of expert may offer therapy to both patients and their loved ones. An addiction specialist also typically creates the treatment plan an addict — and his or her various caregivers — will follow when trying to break an addiction. Working with others to coordinate the patient's treatment is often a component of an addiction specialist's job, because a joint effort among various specialists is usually considered the best way to help an addict recover.
Among the most important jobs of an addiction specialist is counseling people who struggle with addictions, whether those addictions involve drugs, eating disorders, gambling or any other substance or behavior. There usually are various stages of counseling, because patients typically are offered this kind of help while they are still giving in to their addiction and after they have begun recovery. While addicts frequently need help taking those first steps in recovery, they also may need help getting back into a routine that includes work, school and healthy relationships with others. Addiction specialists typically help their patients adjust to life in recovery. Counseling sessions led by addiction specialists may involve an individual or a group, including family members who need help dealing with an addicted loved one.
A specialist of this type often does a lot of work behind the scenes, because patients need a comprehensive treatment plan created by an expert. The counseling sessions between an addiction specialist and a patient often direct the treatment plan, because they allow the specialist to determine what kind of help the addict needs. In addition, most addiction specialists are expected to check the patient's records and interview doctors and family members to help create a treatment plan. They typically also need to record the plan so other practitioners involved in the patient's care can access it. As the patient improves over time, or perhaps get worse, the addiction specialist will need to modify the plan accordingly.
Most addiction specialists are expected to work with other experts treating the patient so the best care can be given. For example, they may meet with nurses and social workers to discuss the patient's progress, which can help modify the treatment plan as needed and assist doctors if medical care is ever necessary as a result of the addictive behavior. In addition, some addicts experience legal trouble, which means their addiction specialist mat need to keep in touch with probation officers or court representatives involved in the case, because such people likely will want to know whether the addict is getting help.