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“The addictions treatment field is facing a workforce crisis. Worker shortages, inadequate compensation and stigma currently challenge the field. Increasingly, treatment and recovery support providers also struggle with issues related to recruitment, retention and professional development of staff. The ability to provide quality addictions treatment and recovery support services is severely hampered by these conditions. Without investment in human infrastructure, this critical public health function will not be equipped to respond effectively to the overwhelming need for services.”“Strenthening professional identity: Challenges of the addictions treatment workforce, a framework for discussion,” 2006.
some workforce facts
Some Workforce Facts:

In 2004 over 23 million Americans met DMS-II criteria for SUD

By 2010 the demand for SUD Tx. professionals is projected to increase by 35%

Today’s average Tx. staff is a white, 45-yr-old, female

54% of Tx. Center directors on the job less than one year

workforce development is a top priority
Workforce Development is a Top Priority

Several recent reports have highlighted the challenges facing the substance use disorders treatment workforce and raised the profile of workforce issues on the national agenda:

Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century

Improving the Quality of Health Care for Mental and Substance-Use Conditions

Strengthening Professional Identity: Challenges of the Addictions Treatment Workforce, A Framework for Discussion

The Action Plan on Behavioral Workforce Development

priority 1 workforce development
Priority 1: Workforce Development
  • Network has identified five specialty areas:
  • Pre-Service & Academic Programs
  • Continuing Education Products & Programming
  • Clinical Supervision
  • Leadership Development
  • National Workforce Survey
National Workforce Survey
  • What is the National Workforce Survey?
  • National Workforce Survey of all States
  • Survey of Agency Directors listed in the I-SSATs
  • Gathers information on the organization and staff
  • Sampling methodology to be determined
workforce survey questions
Workforce Survey Questions
  • What are the demographics of the workforce?
  • What are the anticipated workforce development needs for 2010 – 2015?
  • What are the common strategies & methodologies to prepare, retain and maintain the workforce?
workforce survey timeline
Workforce Survey Timeline

2008-Lit Review, DB identification/analysis

2009-Stakeholder Discussions, begin marketing efforts, develop sampling plan, survey instrument, methodology, analysis plan

2010-OMB Package, IRB approval

2011-Conduct survey in all Regional Centers

2012-Submit findings


Recruitment involves the process

of identifying and hiring the best

qualified addictions professional

for the job.

Why is Recruitment Important?

The recruitment of qualified workers is an important aspect of

Workforce Development.

It ensures the availability of a capable workforce able to meet the growing

treatment and recovery needs of our nation.

In 2000 a total of 61,000 individuals were employed as substance abuse and

behavioral disorders counselors. By 2010 there will be a need for an additional

21,000 practitioners. * 

* Source: National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD). (2003). Recommendations related to closing the treatment gap, NASADAD policy position paper.

Recruitment and Retention Resources

Image Who You Can Save

Additional Resources and Tools

Recruitment Video

Imagine Who You Can Save

Award Winning Video

This ongoing recruitment campaign includes numerous components, including the award winning video, a FREE Recruitment Kit, and a variety of other marketing materials.

Produced by the Northeast ATTC Regional Center, NAADAC, the Association of Addiction Professionals, the Central East ATTC Regional Center, and the ATTC National Office.

Recruitment and Retention Resources

Workforce Home



New to the Field


Why Employees LeaveTop Reasons Staff Shortages Why Keep EmployeesManagement Practices What Employees Want How to Keep EmployeesThe Interview QualificationsOnboarding EngagementSelfcare Resources for Managers Sample Letters Resources for GrowthLead

workforce development14
Workforce Development

Currently the addiction treatment and recovery field is faced with complex cases

demanding a high level of skill and professional training. Therefore, continuous

development of staff skills is imperative in the delivery of high-quality client care.

pfr attc leadership institute
PFR/ATTC Leadership Institute

Addictions treatment and recovery services is facing a transition, as many of today’s leaders are retiring. *

The ATTC Network is working to support leadership development activities which prepare emerging leaders for leadership roles. The Network also supports mentorship and other transitional activities which prepare and encourage established leaders to pass on their knowledge, skills, and wisdom to the next generation of leaders.

* See Web site for other reasons why employees leave.

pfr attc leadership institute cont
PFR/ATTC Leadership Institute, cont.

The PFR/ATTC Leadership Institute is an intense

leadership preparation program designed to cultivate the

development of future addiction leaders.

Providing professional development through:

Evidenced-based training seminars

Distance learning

Completion of a project within a six-month timeframe.

Emerging leaders partner with a mentor offering expertise vital in facilitating the development of future leaders.

PFR/ATTC Leadership Institute, contd.
  • Lead section of the Web site
  • Internal tools and resources
leadership institute projects
Leadership Institute Projects

Frank McIlroy, CCS, CADC, SAP Dr. of Market Development /Quapaw HouseProject: 6 week Substance Abuse Education Program in District Court SystemEveryone I’ve approached has fully embraced the plan, and some are even enhancing the program further to meet their needs. For example, one probation department has turned it into an outpatient program and there is a district court judge who will take the program charge off an offender’s bill if he/she successfully completes the program.

Gordon Bruin, M.A., L.P.C. Program Services Manager /Utah County Division of Substance AbuseProject: Improve the no show rates of clients who come for their initial substance abuse assessments at the Division of Substance Abuse.This information lead to the implementation of different appointment times (evenings), and ultimately, the attendance of clients increased!

leadership institute projects19
Leadership Institute Projects

Holly McCravey, M.A., R.A.S.

Program Director, Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center (CMHC)

Project: Developed an intensive mental health training designed to help counselors

successfully work with Axis I clients.

MD’s, R.N’s and mental health clinicians from our agency came to our site and provided

Training 2 times per month over a three month period.   The result of the training was

enhanced knowledge and skills demonstrated by improved outcomes with dually

diagnosed clients. It also resulted in the substance abuse counselors gaining new

connections to our mental health agency.  Plus, it boosted staff confidence and


Randy Jo Nielsen, B.S.Ed., CADC, LAADAC, CCS

Assistant Treatment Program Manager/Dept. of Community Correction, Ft. Smith, AR

Project: Utilizing the TAP-21 manual and the Rubric evaluation with staff. 

Because access to all counselors would be practically impossible, I tailored the program for five

counselors. This training and performance assessment for the Addiction Counseling Competencies was very beneficial and needed by these counselors.  In fact, we need more training for all our staff and I plan to engage the rest of the counselors in increments.

the training point
The Training Point

The Training Point: an uncommon learning exchange for addictions trainers is a seven week course designed to enhance knowledge and abilities in addiction training.

the training point cont
The Training Point, cont.
  • The first and last three weeks of the course are held online via the Blackboard Learning System.
  • The middle week of the course is an intensive three-day face-to-face learning exchange.
  • Throughout all seven weeks, participants focus on the various components that create successful training experiences: the learners, the environment, the materials, and the trainer.
  • Topics covered include: * Learning and training styles * Adult learning principles * Facilitation and presentation skills * Reflective practice * Transformative learning.
Regional Center WFD projects

Returning Veterans

lesbian gay bisexual transgender individuals
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Individuals

Effective treatment with any population should be sensitive and culturally competent. Substance abuse treatment providers, counselors, therapists, administrators, and facility directors can be more effective in treating LGBT clients when they have a better understanding of the issues LGBT clients face.

LGBT Project by Prairielands ATTC (

Source: A Provider’s Introduction to Substance Abuse Treatment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individuals – SAMSA/CSAT

Hispanic InitiativeNavigate to: Caribbean Basin & Hispanic ATTC Regional Center pageWhere and What is the Hispanic Initiative?
Hispanic Initiative, cont.

The ATTC Hispanic Initiative is being developed in order to meet the needs of Hispanic service providers and clients who require better resources created specifically for this population

Clinical Supervision

Traditionally, counselors have advanced to supervisory positions based

on seniority, academic training and/or expertise counseling skills. Once

promoted, these supervisors received no or very little training in clinical

supervision. Faced with the demand for increased accountability and

more complex cases, today’s addictions workforce must have a high

degree of skill and professional training. This also applies to clinical


Being competent in counseling is not the only

requirement of a proficient supervisor. These clinicians must

acquire additional knowledge, skills and attitudes, as well as undertake

a different role within the organization.


There are a variety of distance education opportunities for addiction treatment and recovery practitioners. Some courses are self-paced and others are instructor-led.