Addiction doctors can help diagnose, treat, and prevent addiction-related conditions. By focusing on safety and overall wellness, addiction doctors use internal medicine and psychiatry principles to help addicts get their lives back.
As addiction rates in the United States continue to climb, healthcare professionals have formed an entire field of medicine for addiction science that addresses both the physical and mental health concerns of addicts.
Battling addiction and ready for treatment?
What Is An Addiction Doctor?
An addiction doctor is a physician that focuses on the prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with unhealthy substance abuse or substance use disorders. Addiction medicine physicians also help loved ones or family members affected by addiction.
Addiction doctors are usually board-certified healthcare providers with credentials through the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).
Other credentialed addiction medicine subspecialists may serve as clinical experts, faculty, teachers, researchers, and change agents.
What Is Addiction Medicine?
Addiction Medicine (ADM) has been a recognized evidence-based physician subspecialty of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) since 1990.
Addiction medicine focuses on improving the diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and recovery of people with the disease of addiction.
For clinicians, the addiction medicine subspecialty aims to help eliminate the public health consequences and stigma associated with addiction by providing patients with access to credentialed physicians.
Addiction Doctors VS Addiction Counselors
Addiction doctors go through the same schooling as other doctors but choose addiction medicine as their subspeciality and receive specialized training.
Addiction counselors, on the other hand, focus on cognitive behavioral health therapies to address why patients fall into drug abuse patterns. Like addiction doctors, addiction counselors receive the same education as other counselors but focus specifically on substance-related topics.
Types of Treatment an Addiction Doctor Provides
Addiction doctors or addiction medicine physicians are specially trained in assorted treatments, from outpatient medical care to inpatient residential or psychiatric care.
For many people with addiction, co-occurring mental illnesses or health conditions may complicate their recovery; an addiction doctor can help manage all of these factors.
Common treatments addiction doctors provide include:
- Outpatient rehab
- Inpatient residential rehab
- Partial hospitalization rehab
- Psychiatric care (e.g., therapy)
- Substance withdrawal management
- Medical detoxification
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- Harm reduction
What Types of Issues Will an Addiction Doctor Treat?
Within the field of addiction medicine, certain methods have been perfected for specific substances like opioids and alcohol. Each substance comes with its own set of challenges, making some of these treatments essential for full, long-term recovery.
Types of issues addiction doctors will treat:
- Behavioral addiction (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping)
- Drug addiction
- Substance-Induced Disorders
- Impulse control disorders (e.g., pyromania, kleptomania)
- Opioid use disorder-specific treatment
- Alcohol use disorder-specific treatment
- Dual diagnosis (mental illness and addiction)
- Prescription opioid withdrawal syndrome (POWS)
Who Should See an Addiction Doctor?
Individuals displaying warning signs of addiction could benefit from seeing an addiction doctor. Whether the patient would benefit from intensive outpatient treatment or inpatient treatment, an addiction doctor can help you determine the best treatment options for you.
Common warning signs of addiction or substance abuse include:
- Stark changes in personality
- Intense cravings for the drug
- Taking a drug after it’s no longer needed for a health problem
- Hiding drug use or the effect it is having on you from others
- Being unable to stop using the drug, even if you want to
- Continuing to use the drug even though it’s negatively affecting your life
- Spending all your time thinking about the drug
- Losing interest in things you once enjoyed
- Struggling to give yourself limits
- Using more of the drug than you intended to
- Stealing drugs from other people
- Borrowing or stealing money to pay for drugs
- Sudden changes in mood (e.g., aggressive behavior, irritability, depression, apathy, or suicidal thoughts)
- Visibly worsened appearance like bloodshot eyes, bad breath, shakes or tremors, frequent bloody noses, or you have gained or lost weight
- Having bad skin, hair, teeth, and nails
- Memory loss or problems with recall
- Changes in speech, like slurred words or rapid rambling
Find a Local Addiction Doctor
If you or a loved one is dealing with addiction and struggling to quit on your own, an addiction medicine physician could help.
Addiction doctors receive special accreditation to provide high-quality addiction treatment for people of all backgrounds.
Your primary care or internal medicine doctor can refer you to an addiction treatment center. In addition, you can use SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or call (800) 662-4357 to find local treatment centers whose addiction physicians are ready to help you.
FAQs About Addiction Doctors
Do addiction doctors take insurance?
Yes, generally. Each doctor and health insurance policy may vary, so check with your insurance carrier to ensure they will cover the doctor you would like to see.
How do I find addiction doctors near me?
There are several ways to find addiction doctors near you. If you already have a primary care doctor, you can ask them for a referral.
Going through your primary care physician has advantages. They are already familiar with your case and can help you choose the best treatment plan.
You can also use SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or call (800) 662-4357 to find treatment programs near you that meet your needs.
What is the difference between an addiction doctor and an addiction counselor?
Addiction doctors are medical clinicians with an accredited subspecialty in addiction medicine.
Addiction counselors, on the other hand, are trained to provide cognitive behavioral therapies for addiction-related issues.