Addiction Psychiatry Education and Degree Program Options

Addiction psychiatry is a sub-specialty for individuals holding a Doctor of Medicine and certification in general psychiatry. Addiction psychiatry fellowship programs allow doctors to explore the causes of alcohol or chemical addiction, as well as learn to diagnose and treat individuals with substance abuse problems.

Essential Information

Fellows complete hands-on training through real-life experiences at a teaching hospital or similar medical facility. They participate in rotations with faculty to evaluate and treat patients exhibiting a variety of addiction-related disorders. Fellows also participate in seminars covering topics such as neurobiology and therapeutic modalities. This training prepares them for board certification in addiction psychiatry. Students must complete a fellowship program in addiction psychiatry to become board-certified addiction psychiatrists. Applicants are also typically required be board-certified psychiatrists or eligible to be board certified and have completed their residency program in psychiatry.

  • Program Levels in Addiction Psychiatry: Doctoral Certification
  • Prerequisites: Medical licensure
  • Program Length: One to two years
  • Other Requirements: Fellowship/clinical rotations approved by Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education

Addiction Psychiatry Doctoral Licensure

Because this is a medical sub-specialty, applicants to fellowship programs must be licensed medical doctors. A fellowship program delivers education through clinical rotation, seminars and research activities. Rotations may include experiences in nicotine, psychotherapy, school-based prevention and rehabilitation. Seminars may cover addition topics such as:

  • Neurobiology
  • General addiction
  • Therapeutic modalities
  • Administrative issues
  • Pharmacology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted job growth for physicians and surgeons, including psychiatrists, to increase by 24% from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). According to the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, there is a need for qualified professionals to treat those with substance abuse problems (www2.aaap.org). The average salary for psychiatrists in May 2012 was $177,520, as reported by the BLS.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology Inc., which is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties, offers certification in addition psychiatry. Certification generally includes completion of an approved fellowship-training program. Applicants must also have been board-certified in psychiatry for at least a year before applying for addiction psychiatry credentials, as well as pass a certification exam. The American Society of Addiction Medicine also has a certification exam for psychiatrists in addiction medicine.

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