What Does an Addiction Therapist Do?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2019
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An addiction therapist is a type of mental health professional who specializes in assisting people with overcoming various types of addictions. The addictions may have to do with withdrawals from some type of substance, such as prescription medications, alcohol, or illegal drugs. At other times, the focus of the addiction therapist is on cases involving addictive behaviors such as sexual addictions or gambling. In any situation, the role of the therapist is to help the patient face and overcome the addiction, paving the way for the individual to reclaim his or her life.

Training for work as an addiction therapist normally involves successful completion of a certification process as well as obtaining degrees related to the focus of the intended work. In many nations, this type of therapist must possess training and credentials similar to those required to be recognized as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Other nations require the completion of training that is similar to that of a social worker, with some emphasis on the development of counseling skills. While the necessity for formal education and appropriate credentials vary, just about anyone who wishes to enter this type of profession will be required to take some sort of formal courses at an accredited school or college, and normally must pass some type of board certification before being allowed to practice.


There are many different types of addiction therapist jobs available today. Therapists of this type may be on staff at hospitals or even special facilities that focus strictly on recovery from various types of addictions. An addiction therapist may also function in private practice, taking on specific clients who are attempting to overcome substance abuse or some sort of addictive behavior that is interfering with the balanced development of social skills or the ability to function in society in general. Some therapists may choose to focus on clients within a certain age range or gender, while others may offer their services in connection with overcoming a select group of addictions.

In just about every setting, the addiction therapist will employ a number of different methods to assist the client in not only recovering from the physical aspects of the addiction, but also identifying and dealing with the underlying issues that led to that addiction. This is often accomplished using one or more types of therapy or counseling, medication when and as appropriate, and even aiding the individual in making lifestyle changes that help to reduce the potential for yielding to the addiction again in the future. This type of therapist may work with a patient for years if necessary, in order to provide support in dealing with emotional and other factors that can trigger the addictive behavior.


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