The Best Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Programs

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that substance abuse counselor jobs will grow 23% by 2026. Several factors contribute to this growth, such as the opioid addiction epidemic. According to the Health and Human Services Administration, over 11.5 million Americans misused opioids in 2016, and an average of 116 people overdosed each day. As a result, more health insurance companies offer substance abuse treatment in their coverage. This has lead to an increased demand for substance abuse treatment professionals.

The Best Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Programs

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Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Degree Program Ranking Guidelines:
Because numerous types of degrees fall under the umbrella of “"Best Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Programs”, the following sections display top-ranked programs from several related ranking articles on our website. To learn more about these different programs, follow the link at the end of each section to the corresponding ranking article.

The Best Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Degree Programs

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The Best Online Doctorate in Counseling Degree Programs

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Regent University 

Virginia Beach, VA Apply Now

About this school

Pat Robertson founded Regent University in 1977 in the city of Virginia Beach. The school has steadily expanded and now offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Regent also operates an array of distance learning programs, including an online Ph.D. in counseling.

This 51-credit program runs on a part-time cohort model, offering a sequence of courses that allows students to earn their degrees in four years of part-time study. The final year consists exclusively of dissertation research, writing, and defending. Other program coursework covers grant writing, indigenous mental health care, and political structures and policy analysis. Faculty deliver program coursework asynchronously. Additionally, all students must complete a capstone seminar that deals with psychological science and Christian thought.

Program applicants must already hold a master's degree in a relevant field, earned with a minimum GPA of 3.5. All applicants should also have at least one year of relevant work experience.


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Choosing an Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Program

When earning an addiction counseling doctoral degree, students typically take core courses in subjects like pharmacology of substance abuse, theoretical approaches to treatment and epidemiology. Many programs, especially research-heavy ones, require students to complete dissertations. However, universities that teach students to become licensed practitioners often require residencies instead. While there are commonalities between programs, each addiction counseling degree is unique in regard to its available coursework and specializations.

For example, one school may offer a psychiatry-focused addiction psychology degree, while another school gears its coursework towards counseling. The former equips students to become licensed psychiatrists who treat the physical aspects of addiction, while graduates from the latter focus on mental health counseling. Graduates from both programs often work in tandem. Similarly, a learner aiming to incorporate Christianity with counseling should pursue an on-campus or online addiction counseling doctorate degree from a religiously affiliated institution.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery Program?

Because particulars vary between substance abuse counseling programs, learners should research each university’s curriculum. Students should be familiar with a program’s common concentrations and what the program does to prepare students for their careers.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Doctoral Degree in Addiction and Recovery

  • Public Policy:
    While earning an addiction counseling degree online with a concentration in public policy, students study how laws affect people with addiction, the global forces that drive substance abuse and theories on stopping epidemics. With this knowledge, graduates can shape alcohol, drugs and tobacco policy.
  • Psychiatry:
    A student with a medical background can become a licensed psychiatrist through one of these programs. Degree candidates learn the complex and emerging neuroscience behind addiction and its treatment. Learners must complete psychiatric residencies before earning licensure. After obtaining credentials, graduates can use medicine to treat patients suffering from addiction.
  • Counseling:
    Many people suffering from substance addiction have coexisting mental health problems. A student with a master’s degree in addiction counseling is an excellent fit for this program. Learners further study the psychology of addiction and graduate equipped to help patients manage trauma and disorders.

Curriculum for an Online Doctoral Degree in Addiction and Recovery

  • Global Approaches to Substance Use Prevention and Treatment:
    Substance dependency and its treatment vary across countries. These courses teach students about theories and practices around the world, and they include the benefits and drawbacks of each.
  • Behavioral Pharmacology:
    In these courses, learners study the medications that doctors use to treat behavioral disorders and substance abuse. Lectures explore the physiological responses created by common medications, such as side effects.
  • Quantitative Research Methods in Psychology:
    In these courses, degree candidates learn the best practices for psychological research and how to measure outcomes. This course is especially common in programs that require a dissertation or other research project.
  • Multicultural Issues in Addiction:
    Substance abuse affects different populations in various ways. These courses help students understand how cultural differences should inform a patient’s addiction treatment plan.
  • Addiction Programs for Complex Cases:
    Because a doctorate in substance abuse treatment is the terminal degree its field, graduates from these programs are prepared to treat people with especially complex cases. This course teaches degree candidates how to help such patients.

Careers with a Doctorate in Addiction and Recovery

Students with a doctorate in addiction and recovery have many career options. Those who desire to teach the next generation of counselors and psychiatrists can become postsecondary teachers. Learners who attend psychiatric-focused programs can complete residencies and become psychiatric physicians. Furthermore, degree candidates focused on counseling can become psychologists.

  1. Postsecondary Teacher:
    These professionals are professors and dissertation directors who train emerging psychology professionals at universities and colleges. They are often expected to conduct treatment plan research.
    • Median Annual Salary: $76,000
    • Projected Growth Rate: 15%
  2. Psychologist:
    These professionals are also called counselors or therapists. They work with patients to develop treatment and addiction recovery plans. They also help their patients identify underlying emotional issues that may be connected to their addiction.
    • Median Annual Salary: $77,030
    • Projected Growth Rate: 14%
  3. Psychiatric Physician:
    Also called psychiatrists, these professionals identify and prescribe medication to help patients cope with addiction and other mental health disorders. A substance abuse specialization helps these professionals become leading experts in their field.
    • Median Annual Salary: $208,000
    • Projected Growth Rate: 13%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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