3 Things Most People Didn’t Know About Addiction Worker

3 Things Most People Didn’t Know About Addiction Worker

The Role and Responsibilities of an Addiction Worker

In Canada, one in five individuals experiences a problem related to addiction according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). While some people manage to overcome addiction on their own, the unfortunate reality is that most individuals require professional assistance. Addiction workers help to coordinate treatment and services for those trying to overcome an addiction that individuals may not have access to on their own. Most importantly, addiction workers provide support on a personal level.  

If you’re looking for a career with the purpose of helping others, becoming part of the addiction worker field might be worth considering. Addiction workers are in high demand as they work in a variety of organizations, including but not limited to mental health clinics or hospitals, public health organizations, the criminal justice system, and private or public-run treatment centers.  

Types of Addiction Worker

types of addiction worker

Addiction Counselor 

Addiction counsellors work in a variety of settings, including group homes, hospitals, overnight shelters, and residential treatment centres. They are often responsible for assessing the needs and severity of addiction of clients and then developing client-based treatment. This can include providing information, making referrals, facilitating therapy groups, and documenting client progress and aftercare. 

Mental Health and Addiction Worker 

They assist mental health clients with daily activities to encourage independence. They report any unsafe or significant observations, as well as provide support and guidance. 


An interventionist is a trained professional that can help build a strategy to overcome addiction or substance use. Importantly, early intervention techniques are used to prevent as much harm as possible. They can also work with people who are experiencing relapse to help get them back on track for recovery. 

Harm Reduction Worker

Harm reduction workers work to reduce the negative health, social, and economic consequences of addiction and substance abuse. They can be responsible for distributing harm reduction supplies, providing education and support related to overdose prevention, and the collection and disposal of discarded needles. 

Substance Abuse Social Workers

They work with a treatment team to evaluate and treat people who have problems related to substance abuse. They can also work in cases of intervention and be referred to and serve as a therapist. They often have a strong understanding of mental health issues in addition to addiction.

Importance of Addiction Worker in the Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Process

In addition to the job descriptions of addiction workers listed above, one of the main reasons addiction workers are so important to the prevention, treatment, and recovery process is advocacy. Not only do they directly advocate for the needs of their clients, but they also advocate for prevention and recovery through support services. One way this is accomplished is by changing the stigma around addiction and reaching out for help. The more workers and services there are in the field will allow for more education and a reduction of negative stigma. This also means reducing the barriers individuals face in order to sustain their recoveries, such as education, housing, and work.

Qualifications and Schooling of an Addiction Worker

qualifications of addiction worker

Depending on the position and location, training, education, and licensing will vary. For education, some positions may only require a certificate or a diploma, while some may require a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s Degree, or a Doctorate degree. Some jobs may require licensing. Degrees in the fields of psychology, sociology, or counselling are recommended. The importance of education is to be able to understand the physical and mental effects of addiction and substance abuse on clients. 

In addition to education, most employers require experience in a related or specific field. This could include working with high-risk individuals, individuals involved with the criminal justice system, involved with substance use, or at-risk youth. They may ask for a minimum hour of experience or relevant training. They might also require a criminal record check/clearance, a valid level 1 first aid certificate, a valid driver’s license, 

Along with education and relevant training, individuals often need to have a specific skill set. These characteristics often include:

  • Strong listening skills
  • Desire to help others
  • Respectful of privacy
  • Highly motivated
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Compassionate 
  • Group facilitation skills
  • Organization and management skills

Things You Don’t Know About Addiction Workers

1. The job can be challenging

There are often high turnover rates in the field of addiction and recovery work as working with people struggling with addiction and substance abuse can be difficult. This is because relapse of clients is common, along with issues of motivation and honesty. It can be a very demanding job that does not always stop outside of working hours. Workers need to make sure they acknowledge some of the difficult client behaviours and respond with patience and empathy while still being firm and confident in recovery techniques.

2. There are rewarding experiences

While the job can be challenging, helping people to make a positive change in their life can be rewarding. Clients may have both good and bad life experiences and challenges with recovery, but hearing stories and providing relief for families can overcome the difficulties of the job. 

3. Some but not all addiction workers are in recovery

While many people in recovery choose to have careers helping other people recover, it is not a requirement. However, being in recovery can allow workers to look at clients and behaviours from a different perspective which can be beneficial to clients. Some people may enter the career field because they have experienced addiction through a friend or family member, or just want to help others through recovery. 


addiction worker conclusion

Addiction workers are essential to preventing and overcoming addiction because it is a growing public health issue. It is important there are people in place to help those who are struggling to work with the challenges associated with these issues. Addiction workers empower clients with information, treatment plans, counselling, and other resources to assist in their recovery. For more information on addiction workers or you or a loved one who is struggling with addiction, contact Andy Bhatti Intervention and Addiction Service.

Other Resources:

6 reasons to become a substance abuse worker: https://msw.usc.edu/mswusc-blog/substance-abuse-social-worker/

[templatera id="17199"]