Addiction Professionals Are Satisfied With Their Jobs, Survey Says

By John Lavitt 01/12/16

But many admit the treatment systems offered by their organizations are not ideally structured for long-term recovery.


The inaugural Quality of Life Survey by Addiction Professional of people in the field of addiction treatment reveals a surprising level of job satisfaction. The majority of addiction professionals believe they are in the right field. In addition to being satisfied in the present, 70% of the respondents plan on staying in the field until their retire.

The overall goal of the survey was to develop greater insight into the everyday work experiences and perspectives of treatment professionals. Beyond understanding this personal microcosm, the survey also looked at their overall attitudes and opinions about the profession. The online survey generated 550 responses with 54.2% individuals identifying themselves as counselors.

Overall, the vast majority of respondents (over 90%) identified themselves as a treatment professional without an advanced clinical degree. The level of training of the majority of the respondents is below the clinical level of a nurse, therapist, psychologist or physician. In the treatment field, professionals that lack advanced degrees in clinical practice provide the majority of services.

The Quality of Life Survey also provided insight into the annual salaries of addiction professionals. The salary levels revealed a wide range of compensation from just over $30,000 upwards to $70,000 and potentially more. A major reason for the disparity is the variety of addiction professional types eligible to take the survey, ranging from counselor to physician. Secondary reasons hidden behind the curtain would include years of experience, nature of the facility and geographical location. A drug counselor at a private Malibu rehab certainly is making quite a bit more than a drug counselor at a public outpatient clinic in Little Rock. Addiction treatment professionals, however, clearly have not chosen the industry for its money-making opportunities.

Despite the expression of overall job satisfaction, many of the respondents admit that the treatment systems offered by their organizations are not ideally structured to promote long-term recovery. Less than half of survey respondents rated the quality of their organization’s clinical supervision as very good or good, while 47% said they have seen their caseload increase in the past year.

But despite this frustration with the quality of care provided, a majority of respondents reported general satisfaction with the organizations for which they work. Seventy percent rated their facility’s treatment philosophy, mission, and overall quality of services as very good or good while 38.2% of the respondents actually claimed to have left a job in the addiction field at some point during their career because they disagreed with an organization’s treatment approach and recovery methodology.

The survey responses reflect a definite need for clinicians to work extra hours to accomplish their work. The most commonly cited range of extra time worked was one to three hours. For some professionals, the biggest daily challenge in the past year has been adjusting to the changing face of the treatment population. Despite questions about the quality of care and caseload frustrations, it is clear from the Quality Of Life Survey that the perspective on the treatment field by the respondents is positive.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.