In the early stages of recovery or while looking to help a loved one, you may hear a lot about addiction specialists. You may wonder what is an addiction specialist, and how do they differ from other addiction counselors.
What is an Addiction Specialist?
While there are many different types of addiction and substance abuse counselors, an addiction specialist is a medical doctor. Both physicians and psychiatrists can declare a specialty and become certified in addiction treatment. This presence of this specialization is vital to our country’s battle with addiction. A recent study by the Center on Addiction showed that only 1 out of 10 addicts receive any treatment.
Not surprisingly, the results of the study show what many have long suspected. The majority of healthcare professionals do not have the knowledge and experience to diagnose addiction adequately. Also, many of the people working with addiction treatment centers do not have the medical and psychiatric expertise and skills to provide the treatment options needed for a successful recovery.
After completing medical school, physicians and psychiatrists can receive board certification in addiction from one of the following:
- ABPM, American Board of Preventative Medicine
- ABPN, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
- ABAM, American Board of Addiction Medicine
- AOA, American Osteopathic Association
Achieving one of these certifications means that the doctor has shown through education, experience, and passing of an exam an exceptional understanding of the specialty. Therefore, they are qualified to diagnose and treat addiction as well as the psychiatric and physical issues related to long-term abuse of drugs and alcohol.
What Should You Expect in an Addiction Specialist?
In addition to the expected medical and psychiatric knowledge, a specialty in addiction requires many other skills. An addiction specialist will have the following:
- Current M.D or D.O. license.
- The ability to recognize and diagnose addiction as a primary brain illness, prescribe appropriate treatment for patients and families, and perform and train others in screening, intervention, and referral to treatment.
- A capacity for treating patients and families with empathy and motivating them to seek the right appropriate treatments.
- The knowledge and experience to address medical and psychiatric conditions typical of addicts as well as withdrawal symptoms.
- Understanding of other disciplines in the field and current drug testing technologies.
- Knowledge of the state’s prescription monitoring program and its appropriate use.
The Benefits of Working With an Addiction Specialist
Obviously, it is to everyone’s benefit having an addiction specialist onsite at a rehab. Nearly 50% of addicted persons have or develop a co-occurring mental illness and or physical symptoms of the disease. These highly trained physicians and psychiatrists have specific knowledge that can assist individuals through recovery. More often than not, addiction specialists lead a team of counselors and medical professionals. Under the direction of an addiction specialist, each member of the team will do their part to enhance the treatment plan developed by the addiction specialist.
As you might expect, developing the right individual treatment is important. Sometimes, what may appear to be an addiction could be a physical dependence. In such cases, an addiction specialist would recognize the unique characteristics of the issue and create a concrete plan. More often than not, people with a physical dependence will be slowly weaned off of the substance, unlike the immediate detox necessary for addicts.
Finding Help at Westwind Recovery
Treatment under the supervision of a certified addiction specialist is closer than you think. At Westwind Recovery, we offer a variety of treatment options and therapies to help you get on the path to recovery. Call us today 855.340.8832 to learn how, under the guidance of two certified addiction specialists, we can help you regain control of your life.