Recovery Specialist Job Description

Recovery specialists help people regain control of their lives through recovery from addiction, mental health issues, or drug abuse. They often work with individuals dealing with a serious level of mental illness. They help individuals and families identify life goals and make progress toward those goals. These mental health professionals handle a variety of responsibilities, such as conducting assessments, facilitating group counseling sessions, helping others develop life skills, and performing crisis interventions. Recovery specialists usually work in rehab clinics and other outpatient medical facilities. Most recovery specialists work full time on a team with other mental health professionals in order to provide long-term support.

Recovery Specialist Duties and Responsibilities

While a recovery specialist’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:

Develop Treatment Plans
A recovery specialist works with individuals recovering from mental illness and drug abuse. They help clients determine a meaningful recovery plan with the goal of becoming self-sufficient. They help participants identify the most appropriate steps to achieve life goals.
Perform Group and Individual Counseling
Providing counseling to individuals and groups is a key responsibility of recovery specialists. They often facilitate group sessions about recovery from addiction. Specialists carefully observe and reinforce positive progress that they see in clients. They also make referrals to community agencies and other emergency services as needed.
Train People on Problem-Solving Skills
Recovery specialists teach program participants problem-solving skills and other life skills that help improve their mental and emotional health. They teach positive behaviors and reinforce healthy behavior.
Write Progress Reports
These specialists document client progress in a quick and thorough manner, keeping track of client progress toward goals. This documentation is essential to facilitating a clear understanding of a participant’s recovery status.
Provide Case Management and Coordination
Recovery specialists manage multiple patient treatment caseloads. They may manage medical treatment cases, pharmacological cases, and new intake cases. Recovery specialists work to coordinate needed services on behalf of their program participants.

Recovery Specialist Skills and Qualifications

Recovery specialists need strong communication skills and a basic understanding of mental health. Employers typically seek candidates with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, or a related field. The following skills are essential to getting the job done:

  • Crisis management – recovery specialists often need to intervene in emergency situations on behalf of their program participants
  • Counseling – recovery specialists often engage in group and individual counseling to help individuals achieve goals and make heath improvements
  • Mental health treatment – teaching patients how to manage mental illness and prevent drug abuse is an essential job responsibility
  • Conflict resolution – recovery specialists must be highly skilled at working through high-stress interpersonal situations and defusing intense situations
  • Event coordination – coordinating group counseling sessions, treatment activities, medical transportation, and other daily activities is a key responsibility of recovery specialists
  • Communication skills – in order to help others, recovery specialists utilize strong interpersonal skills
  • Organization skills – recovery specialists coordinate access to available resources and treatment services on behalf of their employer or client
  • Writing skills – producing client documentation and reports is another common responsibility

Recovery Specialist Education and Training

Education requirements for recovery specialists vary greatly by employer. Some peer-supported positions simply require a high school diploma and a minimum of one year’s successful participation in a mental health recovery program. However, recovery specialists who work in more clinical settings must have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, counseling, nursing, or a related field. Training in chemical dependency is essential to this role.

Recovery Specialist Salary and Outlook

According the Bureau of Labor statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for rehabilitation counselors, such as recovery specialists, is $34,860. The lowest 10 percent of earners make less than $22,040. However, the highest 10 percent of earners make more than $62,780. The BLS predicts that industry employment of recovery specialists will grow 13 percent through 2026, which is faster than average for all occupations.

Helpful Resources

We searched the web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a recovery specialist. From thought leaders to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect, and engage:
NAADAC: The Association for Addiction Professionals – NAADAC represents the interests of 100,000 addiction professionals across the US, including counselors, administrators, and social workers
International Association of Peer Supporters – boost your career with networking opportunities, monthly newsletters, regular news updates, and access to recovery and peer support information
Mental Health America – MHA created the first national advanced peer specialist certification for those working in group recovery environments
Addictions and Family Healing: Strategies That Work – discover principles that recovery specialists use in this detailed recounting of one family’s experience with addiction. The text is full of proven methods from a recovery specialist who has helped hundreds of families
Six Essentials to Achieve Lasting Recovery – pick up this book to learn six guiding principles to lasting recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs
A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Steps: The Classic Guide for All People in the Process of Recovery – these 12 steps to recovery are used in mental health and counseling settings all over the world. Learning them will help you thrive in your career

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