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What Kind of Specialists Will We Find at Rehab Centers?

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If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction, we’re here to help.

Drug rehab centers are designed to be places of healing. Treatments provided help undo the damage addiction has caused. Educational sessions help people learn about how the addiction develops and what can be done to keep the problem under control.

Rehab centers spend a significant amount of time describing the setting in which care is provided, highlighting the beautiful surroundings or the tasteful amenities the facility offers to people who enroll. But the skill and professionalism of the staff members in these facilities is at the heart of patient success. While the number and type of professionals in each facility can vary, understanding the role of rehab specialists in treatment and their credentials helps those in treatment feel comfortable in the process. The following are the most common job titles seen in drug rehab centers:

Doctors and Nurses

Doctor and nursing reviewing recordsPeople who take drugs may develop a physical dependence on those drugs, and when they no longer have access, they can experience painful withdrawal symptoms. Addiction to some drugs can cause life-threatening complications when people try to stop using them. For example, alcohol withdrawal has been known to cause seizures in about 1 percent of people who are addicted. Because of the health risks, many facilities utilize medical professionals to monitor patients going through withdrawal.

Registered nurses and licensed nurse practitioners (LNPs) can help to monitor patients, taking measurements of their physical condition, and providing simple first-aid interventions to help people stay comfortable and calm. In some states, LNPs can provide medications, but other states require medical doctors (MDs) to assess a patient before prescriptions can be provided.1 Some facilities utilize one MD to assist with patients who also functions as the facility’s medical director. Medical directors also develop policies and ensure that facilities conform to state and local laws. Some doctors who handle this role have an advanced education in addiction, allowing them to use the title of Addiction Medicine Physician.


While in rehab, an addicted person spends a significant amount of time in therapy. Therapists help the person struggling learn more about his or her addiction while developing skills that help him deal with drug triggers.

Some of the professionals that provide therapy during rehab include the following:

  • Licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs)
  • Licensed clinical social workers
  • Counselors
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Certified addiction specialists (CASs)

Each type of therapist serves a unique role in the recovery process and utilizes different tools in their work. For example, those with a CAS designation have taken multiple classes specifically targeting the addiction process. As a result, they may focus exclusively on the changes the addiction can cause in the mind of the person who takes drugs. People with a social work background might focus on the systems a person can access within the community, and how these systems might have harbored or hindered an addiction. LMFTs might hone in on how drug abuse changes the dynamics of a family and how the whole group can work together to end the addiction. Since the type of help each person provides is unique, some facilities offer experts in all of these disciplines.

Advanced Care

Addictions and mental illnesses can often impact the same person at the same time. People with co-occurring disorders have unique needs when it comes to recovery and might benefit from more aggressive treatment programs. Medications play a key role in this process by balancing brain chemicals and allowing the person to feel calmer and more focused. A standard counselor isn’t allowed to provide these prescriptions in most states, but a psychiatrist is able to provide appropriate medications. These professionals have medical degrees and are qualified to monitor patients for any adverse side effects. A psychiatrist might work closely with a psychologist on very complicated cases because psychologists are trained to help people to understand and control their thoughts and behaviors.

Holistic Options

Practicing yogaAddictions can cause severe disruptions in the way people eat. For example, among the consequences of long-term methamphetamine abuse provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, severe weight loss tops the list.2 People who take drugs like meth focus their energies on obtaining the drug, not on buying and preparing healthful foods. In order to heal from the addiction, these people might need intensive nutrition advice. Registered dietitians are sometimes asked to help these clients, and chefs might also be called in to help prepare foods that will be both nutritious and appealing to people in recovery.

Some programs provide their clients with alternative treatments such as yoga, acupuncture, and vitamin supplemental therapies. All of these treatments can be helpful in the fight against addiction. Experts in each area round out the clinical staff of rehab centers and provide clients with safe experiences during their alternative treatments.

Finding Help for Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day at 760.548.4032 to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options. You are not alone. Call us now.


1 Taite, Richard. “Medically Supervised Alcohol Detox Aids Alcoholism Recovery.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 18 Nov. 2013. Accessed 22 Aug. 2017.

2 National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Methamphetamine.” NIDA, Feb. 2017. Accessed 22 Aug. 2017.