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Finding an Addiction Specialist

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

April 26, 2024

Table of Contents

An addiction specialist has the potential to help you move away from addiction to alcohol or drugs. 

Data from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that over 20 million adults in the United States have substance use disorder, with alcohol use disorder accounting for more than 70% of this number.

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Need help getting addiction treatment?

Luckily, there are treatment centers like Renaissance Recovery’s California rehab to help all those who are struggling. The addiction specialists at our treatment centers and our sober living homes can help guide you through this tumultuous time.

What is an Addiction Specialist?

ASAM (the American Society of Addiction Medicine) defines an addiction specialist as either an addiction medicine physician or an addiction psychiatrist holding specialized certification. 

Depending on the route the addiction rehab specialist takes, they receive certification in one of the following ways: 

  • ABPM: American Board of Preventive Medicine’s addiction medicine subspecialty board certification
  • ABPN: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s addiction psychiatry subspecialty board certification
  • AOA: American Osteopathic Association’s certificate of added qualification in addiction medicine
  • ABAM: American Board of Addiction Medicine’s addiction medicine board certification

Beyond a requirement for a depth of psychiatric or medical knowledge, addiction specialists also need a range of other skills, including:

  • Current licensing (M.D or D.O)
  • Ability to treat patients and their families with empathy, while motivating them to engage with the appropriate treatment services
  • Broad understanding of other disciplines
  • Awareness of drug testing technologies
  • Deep knowledge of your state’s prescription monitoring program
  • Capacity to recognize and diagnose alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder as a primary brain condition
  • Prescribe addiction treatment
  • Train other addiction specialists in screening, referral to treatment, and intervention
  • Knowledge of psychiatric and medical conditions commonly co-occurring with addiction

You may encounter an addiction specialist at any stage during your recovery journey, but you will typically consult one before engaging with treatment, or right at the beginning of treatment. 

No two addiction specialists are the same, and they bring different qualities to the table. Ultimately, though, all addiction specialists share a common goal: your complete recovery, both short-term and long-term. 

As such, you’ll find addiction specialists working together in a team at rehab centers. These will include: 

  • Psychiatrists
  • Physicians
  • Counselors
  • Therapists

This team will lead you through any or all of the following: 

Every situation is different, so you can expect addiction specialists to draw upon other strategies and therapies as appropriate.

What is Considered a Certified Addiction Specialist

Among the many different types of different addiction and substance abuse counselors, an addiction specialist is a medical doctor. 

Both psychiatrists and physicians can declare specialties and gain certification in addiction treatment. With the opioid epidemic unresolved and the abuse of fentanyl becoming increasingly widespread, this specialization plays a key contributory role to the nation’s ongoing battle against addiction and its far-reaching consequences. 

With data showing only one in ten of those needing addiction treatment obtaining the help they need, an addiction specialist can act as a bridge and a facilitator, as well as prescribing treatment to promote lasting sobriety.

In short, then, a certified addiction specialist has certification from one of the following: 

  • ABPM: American Board of Preventive Medicine
  • ABPN: American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • AOA: American Osteopathic Association
  • ABAM: American Board of Addiction Medicine

Achieving any of the above certifications proves the doctor has demonstrated a thorough understanding of the specialty, enabling them to both diagnose and treat addictions, as well as any physical or psychiatric issues associated with chronic substance abuse. 

Addiction Specialists for Mental Health & Substance Use

Addiction is not only a physical struggle but also a profound mental health challenge. Individuals facing substance use disorders often experience co-occurring mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Recognizing the intertwined nature of mental health and addiction is crucial for effective treatment. This is where an addiction specialist steps in, offering a comprehensive approach that addresses both the mind and the body.

An addiction specialist is trained to understand the complex relationship between mental health disorders and addiction. They use this knowledge to tailor treatments that address both aspects simultaneously. For many patients, substance abuse is a way to cope with unresolved mental health issues. Without treating the psychological underpinnings of addiction, the risk of relapse is significantly higher.

These specialists are equipped with a variety of therapeutic tools to help patients. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) are common methods used to treat underlying mental health conditions alongside addiction. CBT helps patients develop coping strategies to handle stressful situations that might trigger substance use, while DBT focuses on improving emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.

Furthermore, addiction specialists often work within a multidisciplinary team to provide holistic care. This team may include psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, and social workers, ensuring that all aspects of a patient’s well-being are considered. By coordinating with other healthcare providers, addiction specialists ensure that treatment plans are comprehensive and tailored to the individual’s needs.

Ultimately, the goal of an addiction specialist is not just to help individuals cease substance use, but to enhance their overall mental health and equip them with the tools needed for long-term recovery. This approach not only aids in recovery but also empowers individuals to lead fulfilling, substance-free lives.

How to Find Addiction Specialists Near You

Psychology Today offers a great resource if you’re looking for an addiction specialist in your state right here

You can speak with your primary healthcare provider and request a referral. 

Alternatively, a simple web search for “addiction specialist near me” should yield plenty of suitable options. 

Addiction specialists work in outpatient treatment centers, so you won’t need to head to residential rehab to take advantage of their services. 

Addiction Doctors Near Me

Many people struggling with addiction will often want an addiction doctor near them. Having an addiction doctor near you opens up a lot of different treatment opportunities such as outpatient rehab programs and partial hospitalization programs. For many of those that don’t have an addiction doctor near them they have the opportunity to move to one of our sober living homes.

Our sober living homes offer those seeking addiction treatment a luxury sober living environment so you can focus on recovery and always have an addiction doctor near you.

Addiction doctors will offer treatment plans and services as well as keep up with your recovery status and goals. Many people find that it is a great benefit to be able to have an addiction doctor near them because it allows them to enter at all levels of treatment and not have to move to different treatment programs for different stages of recovery. Clients find that being able to start detox then move throughout the continuum of care whilst maintaining the same doctor gives them comfort, expectations, and predictability. Not having to switch providers and learn new names and faces helps clients feel more balanced and can best focus on recovery with the specialists they have grown to feel confident and comfortable around.

Addiction Specialists in California

If you are looking for an addiction specialist in California, Renaissance Recovery has a facility in Fountain Valley, California to help serve the entire Orange County and Southern California area. Our addiction specialists in California can help you or your loved one fight back against addiction and get a better understanding of how treatment can help you overcome substance abuse.

At out facilities, clients will go through various individual and group counseling sessions to get to the bottom of their addiction. Along with counseling, we use other evidence-based treatment options including dual diagnosis and medication-assisted treatment to help ensure that our clients get as much help as possible during their time with us.

Addiction Specialists in Florida

Along with our California locations, we have addiction specialists in Lantana, Florida near Palm Beach to help people on the other coast.

Similar to our California locations, our Florida specialists have a deep knowledge and understanding of substance use disorder. At our facility, we work to ensure that our clients are equipped with the tools they need to help with sobriety and long-term recovery.

Addiction Specialists at Renaissance Recovery

Here at Renaissance Recovery, you can engage with our team of addiction specialists through any of our outpatient treatment programs. Whatever the scope and severity of your alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder, we can help you through detox and withdrawal, before helping you create a firm foundation for ongoing recovery. 

To get started and take one step closer to enlisting the help of an addiction specialist, call 866.330.9449 today.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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