Workforce surveys conducted by the ATTC Regional Centers over a period of time provide a snapshot of the addictions treatment workforce. To review the surveys relative to your area go to
According to Strengthening Professional Identity: Challenges of the Addictions Treatment Workforce
a sound infrastructure must be in place to ensure the presence of a skilled workforce ready to meet the needs of those requiring alcohol or illicit drug treatment. Presently, this strained and interconnected system is confronted with:
- Staff shortages. The addictions treatment capacity is insufficient and, therefore, inadequate to serve those in need. Compounding this issue is the retirement of addiction leaders.
- High turnover. Organizations are in a constant state of recruitment.
- Low salaries and minimal benefits. Johnson, Knudsen, & Roman (2002) reported that the average counselor salaries were low and only increased from $29,767 to $34,125 in the decade from 1992-2002, or about 2 percent per year. Low salaries are a barrier to recruitment.
- High workloads. Staff shortages are contributing to the high workload.
- No uniform educational standards and no defined career paths. Training programs preparing substance abuse prevention and treatment specialists lack uniform standards.
- Stigma. Addictions treatment struggles to be recognized as a field providing vital health care for a life-threatening chronic disease. The negative perceptions attached to addictions are detrimental to treatment organizations’ recruitment and retention efforts.
- Inadequate incentives. There are few incentives offered to those considering entering the addictions treatment field.
- Lack of resources and professional development opportunities. More than 20 percent of early career members had little or no access to instructional materials or currently published literature.
- Discrepancies between gender, age, and race of workforce compared to clients. Differences between the practitioner and client may impact treatment outcomes.
- Insufficient funding. Providers often do not have the infrastructure to prioritize training, provide regular salary increases, and make technology improvements, much less expand service provision and implement evidence-based practices.
- Undefined career paths. The addictions treatment field lacks defined career paths that incorporate core competencies and provide credibility to the field. The field also lacks professional development and advancement opportunities. Career paths support retention efforts and help individuals progress to leadership positions.
Additional Workforce Development Reports from SAMHSA for AOD and Recovery Segments
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Program (2008). Tomorrow's Jobs. Retrieved February 26, 2009, from Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition Web site: http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco2003.htm
 Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Program (2006). Occupational Projections and Training Data. Retrieved May 20, 2008, from Employment Projections 2006 - 2016 Web site: http://www.bls.gov/emp/optd/home.htm
Abt Associates. (2007). Strengthening Professional Identity: Challenges of the Addictions Treatment Workforce
, Rockville: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)/DHHS.