Practitioner Resources

About Addiction Psychiatry

Westreich and others smiling

Psychiatrists who are trained in addiction are in a unique position to identify concurrent psychiatric and substance use problems in individuals seeking treatment for either or both conditions. Given the reciprocal impact of psychiatric and substance use disorders upon one another, there is a critical need for specialists trained in the diagnosis and treatment of both conditions.


With the recent explosion in scientific knowledge in the area of substance abuse, growing sophistication in our understanding of the factors that contribute to substance use disorders has led to therapeutic strategies tailored to specific subgroups of substance abusers. Novel pharmacological strategies have been developed and are being implemented to target individuals for whom affective, attentional or anxiety symptoms pose a particular vulnerability to the development of substance abuse or dependence.


There are ample job opportunities in Addiction Psychiatry. There is a shortage of specialists in this field in many clinical settings, and psychiatrists trained in the treatment of substance abuse will have a range of attractive choices for a practice setting.

The patient population is underserved, and an increase in mandates for addiction treatment from federal and local governments and third party payers has led to a demand for credentialed addiction specialists. So, multiple opportunities exist in both the public and private sectors.

Addiction Psychiatry provides career opportunities in all fields. Particularly promising are child psychiatry, consultation/liaison psychiatry and forensic psychiatry.


For psychiatrists interested in research, the substance abuse field offers a wealth of unexplored areas. Early-career psychiatrists entering the field of substance abuse will have a wealth of opportunities for pursuing research funding. Clinical research in the field of Addiction Psychiatry has increased federal funding in the past several years. This trend shows every promise of continuing, therefore research psychiatrists working in the field of Addiction Psychiatry are in a position to reap the benefits of this enhanced support.


Similar to the treatment of other psychiatric disorders, clinical interventions for the substance use disorders are effective. This work offers clinicians the opportunity to help patients lead productive, happier lives. Such clinical service is tremendously gratifying and brings many rewards.

Overwhelming data show that treatment for addiction promotes less substance use, better psychological and physical health, and improved social functioning. Cost-offset analyses show clear (long-term) economic benefits to providing addiction treatment.


The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc. certification for Addiction Psychiatry began in 1993. ABPN offers certification in the subspecialty of addiction psychiatry to those psychiatrists who meet its criteria for experience and knowledge. All applicants for certification are required to submit documentation of successful completion of one year of ACGME-approved residency training in addiction psychiatry beginning no sooner than the PGY-V level. Specific information and application procedures can be obtained from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology by calling 847-945-7900 or visiting the ABPN Web site (

Certification Comparison

The Subspecialty Board Certification in Addiction Psychiatry, given by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN), has the advantage of official recognition by organized medicine. The ABPN is one of 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Only board-certified psychiatrists who have completed one year of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-approved residency training (PGY-V level) in addiction psychiatry can sit for the Subspecialty Exam in Addiction Psychiatry. While physicians certified in addiction medicine are respected in the addiction community, ABAM is not recognized by the ABMS nor are ABAM approved residencies/fellowships accredited by the ACGME.