Substance abuse psychologists provide counseling and services to patients suffering from substance abuse and chemical dependency issues, including alcoholism and drug addiction. They help patients manage the effects of withdrawal, especially anxiety and depression, and determine the root causes for their addiction. Substance abuse psychologists collaborate with other healthcare professionals create a comprehensive program for a patient’s recovery. Psychologists in other branches or subfields of psychology also address the issue of substance abuse. For example, health and rehabilitation psychologists may develop and otherwise be involved with public programs designed to prevent and educate people about substance abuse.
Practicing psychologists must hold a master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree in psychology and be state-licensed or certified. Specific licensing or certification requirements will vary by state. Substance abuse psychology, addiction and recovery, or substance abuse treatment may be offered as a specialization or concentration within a general or clinical psychology degree program at the undergraduate or graduate level. Coursework in a degree program with an emphasis on substance abuse may include classes in developmental psychology, psychopharmacology, and the psychology of addiction. Students or practicing professionals may pursue additional certification in pharmacology, the biomedical foundations of chemical dependency, counseling techniques, and/or models for treatment.