People Responding to Addiction in Other Fields

Together with healthcare integration, cross-system collaborations support many professionals to address addiction encountered in the course of their work, even when addiction is not their primary focus.

It is imperative that these workers have:

  • A thorough understanding of addiction as it relates to their field
  • A good referral network
  • Supervision in providing addiction services, unless they are independently licensed to do so

Take an addictions training. Consider an addictions specialty license or certification.  A license can allow you to provide addiction services even in a facility not licensed for substance abuse treatment.

  • Criminal Justice Workers

Judicial health systems have begun to collaborate with primary care and behavioral health services - pretrial, during incarceration and after release - because such a high percentage of people in prison are involved with addiction.
In addition, NIATx has been providing technical assistance to drug courts and offender reentry programs looking to increase access to and retention in evidence-based programs and treatment.

  • Child Welfare Workers

Families affected by substance abuse and addictions may also be involved with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). A national child well-being study in 2004 showed that 1/3 to 2/3 of Child Welfare-involved families are affected by substance use disorders. To better serve these families, the MA DPH Bureau of Substance Abuse Services has been collaborating with DCF on a number of projects, including Hampden County’s Family Recovery Project, and the provision of a DCF Substance Abuse Regional Coordinator in each region in the state.

  • Education workers

Teachers, School Counselors/Social Workers, Principals and administrative staff, in addition to school health nurses, identify and respond to the impact of addiction on students and their families.

  • Elder Service Providers

Elder addiction is a growing phenomenon, particularly abuse of prescribed medications.

  • First Responders - Police, Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians

Police are often first responders in drug-related crises, and the availability of narcan to reverse opioid overdose gives them a new tool.  As with emergency department staff, Paramedics and EMTs come across the most acute and life-threatening effects of addiction and substance abuse and mis-use. They must have a good understanding of how drugs and alcohol affect the body. They must also be aware of how addiction works in the brain, so that they can provide respectful and supportive care to their patients.

  • Housing and Homelessness Service Providers

Addiction is often a part of an episode or cycle of homelessness.

  • Mental Health Workers

Dual Diagnosis of substance use disorder and mental health conditions is common.

  • Nutritionists

Nutritionists are in a key position to notice a pattern which suggests addiction, and to provide guidance to a client in addressing addiction.

  • Oral Health – Dentists and Hygienists

In the same way Dentists and Hygienists  screen for cancer, they can be attuned to signs of addiction, particularly when providing pain medication which may have potential for abuse.

  • Veterans Service Providers

Many veterans have been exposed to addiction in the service, or had traumatic experiences which can lead to addiction post-discharge.