Addictions Educator / Trainer

Trainers and Educators must be knowledgeable about addiction and well-versed in adult learning styles.

They must be prepared to run interactive, experiential trainings and courses that:

  • Allow the learner to practice newly-acquired skills
  • Evaluate learners based on demonstrated mastery of the skills
  • Incorporate opportunities for ongoing follow-up coaching and practice

Educators who teach courses on addictions must also be able to prepare their students for real-life, up-to-date experiences, through connections to internships, shadowing opportunities, etc. They must also have experience in developing training curricula that are culturally responsive.

Many staff are asked to go to a “train the trainer” model course and then return to provide an in-service training, even though they are not professional trainers. An article by William White on “The Addiction Counselor/Supervisor as Trainer” from Counselor magazine provides practical tips on how to succeed.

Trainers usually have:

  • A master's or bachelor’s in Human Resources or in Training; or
  • A degree in another field, with additional training on how to train, as well as experience in training comparable to the master's/bachelors
  • Experience in the field as a counselor or program director

Educators usually have:

  • A master’s degree or a doctorate
  • Experience in the field as a counselor or program director

The Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA), is a multidisciplinary organization of health care professionals dedicated to improving education in the care of individuals with substance abuse problems. The health care professionals involved include physicians, nurses, social workers, dentists, psychologists, public health practitioners, substance abuse specialists, physician assistants, allied health professionals and others.

AMERSA also provides Project Mainstream which offers key resources for all health care professional educators who want to improve their teaching on substance use disorders.

UMass Medical School Certificate in Primary Care Behavioral Health provides training for behavioral health professionals to work with primary care offices.


Trainers have successful careers by:

  • Working for a training company
  • Working on their own as individual consultants
  • Starting their own training company

Educators work as:

  • Professors
  • Consultants
  • Blended clinical, research and teaching careers
  • Contributors to companies publishing health education materials

And educators can advance in:

  • Administration (chair of department, chair of program)
  • Successfully obtaining grants
  • Independent consulting practice
  • Speaking and writing books based on their expertise