Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction requires hard work and persistence. Addiction is a complex disease not simply treated once and forgotten. Breaking the cycle of addiction requires a strong support system, including a team of medical professionals who understand that staying sober is a lifelong process.
The treatment options for people battling addiction have grown almost as fast as the opioid epidemic. The variety of programs and approaches can be daunting—ranging from rehab centers to individual providers.
Confusing matters further is the evolving terminology (rehab center, addictionologist) that sound official but often don’t have standard definitions. Providers of various education and experience levels are all using the same terms.
One of the few exceptions is the term “board-certified.” While there are a few different governing boards that offer certification, each certify that the provider has expert training or experience in addiction medicine. Looking for board-certification is a way to focus only on those providers with the most specialized training and experience. For rehab centers, you can focus on choosing a center that has board-certified addiction specialists on staff.
In many states, rehabilitation facilities are not required to employ physicians who are board-certified, so you’ll have to do your homework when searching for treatment options.
Online physician bios often include information on their board certifications but, it’s always a good idea to double-check the source. Currently, there are two organizations for psychiatrists and other medical doctors to become board certified in addiction medicine. It’s common for physicians to be a part of one or both:
Psychologists are not medical doctors, so they can’t be board-certified in addiction medicine. However, they can become
Any of these professionals may call themselves an addictionologist.
Both psychiatrists and psychologists have a role to play in helping you manage your substance use disorder. An addiction psychiatrist can prescribe medications to assist with detox or withdraw from drug and alcohol use. They can also tailor specific recovery plans for people who have a dual diagnosis of addiction and other mental health issues (e.g., anxiety, depression, bipolar, PTSD, schizophrenia).
Addiction psychologists, on the other hand, focus primarily on talk-therapy and identifying behavioral patterns. They can work with patients as individuals or in group sessions to help with the many emotional transitions that occur during the recovery process.
The best rehab centers have a variety of addiction specialists on staff including experienced psychiatrists, psychologists and other physical and behavioral therapists.
If you have an existing relationship with a psychiatrist or psychologist, it’s a good idea to find out if they have also been board certified in addiction medicine before relying on them for your primary source of care.
If a treating physician is not board-certified in addiction, it means that they have received little to no official training to properly treat or connect patients with specialty care.
If they are experienced addiction treatment providers, then a self-managed approach with a single provider is, of course, possible. Ask your provider a few additional questions as well, such as:
But many people with addiction need more structure and support to begin and continue their recovery than an individual provider. Rehabilitation Centers can provide that solid foundation and support in a variety of evidence-based programs, such as:
Not all places that call themselves “recovery centers” offer one or more of these programs. Some offer little more than group housing with other people trying to achieve lasting sobriety (Sober Homes). That’s why research is so important.
The first 3 questions you should always ask will give you a good idea of whether the program/provider has the expertise and training needed to offer addiction treatment:
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices with these questions, it’s a matter of finding the right fit for your specific needs. Some things to consider:
When talking to prospective treatment center staff, ask for an opinion on something you read about that you think will work for you or a loved one, such as exercise, mindfulness practice, stress reduction or relapse prevention. Knowing that the care team is well-versed on the subject to give you a formal or educated opinion on the matter will demonstrate their willingness to treat the individual’s unique case.
Finding the right treatment can involve a lot of work but it’s ultimately the most important part of recovery.
Lakeview Health was founded in 2001 in Jacksonville, Florida. As a growing addiction treatment center with locations in Florida and Texas, we strive to treat the whole patient – mind, body, and spirit – using a multidisciplinary approach to heal the mind, body, and spirit. To get started, call 866-704-7692.
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