a psychologist answers the question what is an addiction specialist

What Is An Addiction Specialist?

Not just anyone is qualified in order to provide the treatment, support, and resources that are needed by people who are struggling with drugs and/or alcohol. Addiction and substance use disorder are complex medical conditions that require the assistance of clinical staff such as an addiction specialist. Learning what is an addiction specialist will help you understand the important role they play in recovery. To learn more about Promises Behavioral Health and our addiction specialists, contact us today.

What Is An Addiction Specialist?

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), an addiction specialist is either an addiction psychiatrist or addiction medicine physician who also holds a specialized certification. Depending on the route the specialist took, they could have received that specialized certification in one of the following four ways:

  • Addiction medicine board certification from the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM)
  • Certificate of Added Qualification in Addiction Medicine from the American Osteopathic Association (AOA)
  • Addiction medicine subspecialty board certification from the American Board of Preventative Medicine (ABPM)
  • Addiction psychiatry subspecialty board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN)

By holding one of the four certifications noted above, an addiction specialist has demonstrated knowledge, experience, and skills that can be used to successfully, safely, and effectively provide the screening, intervention, treatment, and prevention that individuals who are struggling with substance use disorder need. As an addiction specialist, this professional can both recognize and treat the range of physical and psychiatric complications that addiction brings.

Types Of Addiction Specialists

In addition to an addiction psychiatrist and an addiction physician, there are other team members that work under the addiction specialist umbrella. They work closely with the addiction psychiatrist or addiction physician to deliver the necessary treatment to help an individual recover from substance use disorder.

A few of these include the following:

Recovery coach

A recovery coach doesn’t treat or diagnose addiction. Rather, a recovery coach’s job is to help an individual find the resources they need to recover successfully. Mediating between family members, assisting with goal setting, and helping with job searches are common duties.


Counselors are a vital component of any person’s recovery who is struggling with substance use disorder. There are different levels of training and experience that a counselor can have, however. In addition, a particular counselor might not be able to diagnose an individual. This fact is especially true if they suspect that the person has a co-occurring mental health condition.


An interventionist can provide an objective presence and professional experience to develop strategies for families and friends. Many people who are struggling with substance use disorder have a difficult time recognizing that there is a problem or making changes to address their drug use.

The right interventionist can work with family members and the individual to bridge the gap between awareness and action.

Why An Addiction Specialist Is Important

Knowing what is an addiction specialist helps you understand the additional education, experience, and expertise these professionals must possess before they can hold a certification. Using these attributes allows an addiction specialist to determine the best treatment course for each individual person.

Other professionals in the addiction field might hold other certifications and/or have other experiences. However, there is simply no substitute for the elements that an addiction specialist can provide to you. During the COVID-19 crisis, more and more people are turning to alcohol and drugs to mitigate their mental health conditions. In such cases, an addiction treatment specialist is essential.

If you have further questions about what is an addiction specialist, don’t hesitate to contact Promises Behavioral Health. As dedicated professionals, we’re proud to be addiction specialists as demonstrated by our certifications from the following organizations:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • The Joint Commission
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Psychology Today

Call us today at 844.875.5609 to find out more.

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