Workforce issues are complex and linked to almost every challenge facing the addictions treatment and recovery field. Like other health care professions, the field has encountered many barriers to effective staff recruitment and retention, and to maintaining competencies. In addition to these common workforce challenges, the treatment and recovery field frequently experiences discrimination, lack of public support, under-funding, and misconceptions about treatment and recovery. Partners for Recovery (PFR) provides resources and tools to support and sustain the addictions workforce's day-to-day and long-term endeavors.
Health Care Reform
To thrive in the evolving healthcare landscape, behavioral health prevention and treatment providers must position their organizations in a marketplace that includes many other competing health service providers, centers, and systems. To build the marketing capacity and know-how of this provider community, PFR and the State Associations of Addiction Services (SAAS) developed and delivered a comprehensive educational series for organization leaders on marketing provider organizations in the new health care environment. The series explores topics including the scope of the new healthcare environment, ways to reposition your organization in the marketplace, market research, branding, and marketing action plans. Visit SAAS' website to access the PowerPoint presentations and accompanying marketing tools from this series, as well as videos of the training session.
Working with Veterans and Military Personnel
An essential component of building a competent workforce involves helping substance use treatment and recovery professionals understand and connect with the individuals they serve. PFR prepared two papers focusing on military personnel and veterans to help clinicians and policy makers alike familiarize themselves with the backgrounds, specific characteristics, and needs of these populations. "Understanding the Military: The Institution, the Culture, and the People" (38pp, PDF, 1.4MB) provides an overview of the Armed Forces as an organization and approaches to treating military personnel in behavioral health settings. "Addressing the Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Needs of Returning Veterans and Their Families: The Training Needs of State Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies and Providers" (74pp, PDF, 2.2MB), a paper developed by PFR and the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD), aims to improve SUD treatment services by describing the training, outreach, and resources offered by Single State Agencies (SSAs) to meet the needs of returning veterans and their families. The document also contains recommendations for future development of technical assistance and training materials to address gaps in services.
Strengthening the Addictions Workforce
Partners for Recovery has identified workforce development as a critical issue and has sought input from many groups, including professional associations, colleges and universities, recovery support providers, State directors, treatment providers, Addiction Technology Transfer Centers (ATTCs), Federal agencies, clinical supervisors, human resource managers, and key leaders. The input from the field was gathered and synthesized in a report entitled,"Strengthening Professional Identity: Challenges of the Addictions Treatment Workforce" (93pp, PDF, 780KB), which informed the development of the "Report to Congress: Addictions Treatment Workforce Development" (50pp, PDF, 392KB).
In response to the recommendations presented in the “Strengthening Professional Identity: Challenges of the Addictions Treatment Workforce” report, PFR and State Association of Addiction Services (SAAS) developed a report illustrating strategies for strengthening the addictions treatment provider system. “Strategies for Strengthening Substance Use Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Systems: Provider Networks and Impact on the Workforce” (91pp, PDF, 2.1MB) describes nine successful alcohol and other drug (AOD) addiction provider networks that are highly diverse in size, scope, complexity, and service array. The report describes formation and structure of provider networks, range of services offered, collaborative efforts, and impact on the workforce. Strengths and challenges of the networks and considerations in forming the networks are identified.
Also, PFR developed two PowerPoint presentations that focus on strengthening networks for addictions treatment providers. Built on the recommendations from the "Strengthening Professional Identity, Challenges of the Addiction Treatment Workforce" report, the presentations discuss findings of the Provider Network Study. Aimed at defining and identifying provider networks nationally, the "Provider Networks: Strategies to Strengthen Addiction Treatment and Prevention Service Systems", July 2009 (73pp, PDF, 1.8MB) and "Provider Network Models: Strategies to Strengthen Addiction Treatment and Prevention Service Systems", October 2009 (69pp, PDF, 3.3MB) presentations discuss the challenges and solutions to workforce development and network benefits for addictions treatment providers through outlining nine case studies from the Provider Network Study.
Hiring, Retention, and Recruitment
Partners for Recovery supported the development of three reports on workforce development in the areas of retention and recruiting of the addiction workforce. The first report, "Addictions Treatment and Recovery Workforce Retention and Promising Practices Pilot Study" (35pp, PDF, 240KB), explores retention strategies among facilities with low turnover rates. The second report, "Informing Marketing Strategies for Recruitment into the Addictions Treatment Workforce" (44pp, PDF, 383KB), summarizes the findings from the seven focus groups convened to respond to a need to develop recruitment and marketing messages for the addictions treatment recovery field. The third report, "Minority Recruitment for the 21st Century: An Environmental Scan" (66pp, PDF, 1.9MB), responds to two issues: the dearth of treatment and recovery personnel, and a growing body of evidence suggesting that clients are more likely to engage in and benefit from services provided by a clinician with similar demographic characteristics. This report describes the challenges to bringing minorities into the addictions workforce and presents promising recruiting strategies to diversify the field.
In addition to the three reports on retention and recruiting of the addiction workforce, PFR supported the development of three additional resources for workforce development, focusing on the hiring process, recruitment, and addressing substance use within the addictions treatment workforce. The first resource is a manual to guide organizations toward better hiring and recruitment practices, entitled "Recruiting and Hiring Manual for Addictions Professionals" (60pp, PDF, 7.6MB). The manual addresses challenges in the workforce and the specific needs of addictions treatment and recovery professionals. In addition, the manual presents the benefits of more effective hiring and recruiting practices.
Based on the recommendations in the Recruiting and Hiring Manual for Addictions Professionals, the main message in a recruiting effort should be, "Working in addictions treatment allows one to fulfill oneself while (and because) one is helping others change their lives". Through a series of advertisement testing and field testing, PFR developed a compelling graphic design for the addiction treatment field that can be downloaded and customized by inserting the name of any organization on the graphic. To include your organization's name, please use the fillable form at the bottom of the advertisement. For more information, see the "Recruitment Advertisement" (1p, PDF, 347KB) and "Instructions" (1p, PDF, 17KB).
The third resource entitled, "Supporting Our Greatest Resource: Addressing Substance Use, Misuse and Relapse in the Addiction Treatment Workforce," (100pp, PDF, 1.5MB) provides meaningful and practical guidance to the problem of substance misuse among addictions professionals. Developed through the contributions of the PFR Steering Committee, the toolkit identifies issues and solutions related to wellness and the retention of employees in use, misuse, and relapse situations. More broadly, the toolkit can assist employers in creating a work environment that supports the needs of employees, engages and retains employees in the addictions field, and in the case of use, misuse and relapse, intervenes in a way that is effective while being legally and corporately responsible.
Workforce development is also an important issue in the field of substance abuse prevention. The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention has established a Prevention Fellowship Program to advance the field of prevention nationally. The Prevention Fellows hone their skills with State Substance Abuse Directors and Prevention Network personnel across all levels of State activities with emphasis on the Strategic Prevention Framework, SAMHSA's Prevention National Outcome Measures, and the use of data for decision making regarding prevention programming. This program also enhances the skill level of prevention professionals and develops future workers in the field. Many of these fellows will become the Prevention Specialists of the future.
* PDF formatted files require that Adobe Acrobat Reader program is installed on your computer. Click here to download this FREE software now from Adobe.