9 Addiction Nurse Practitioner Programs

Written By: Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH

Addiction nurse practitioners play a vital role in mitigating the substance abuse epidemic currently threatening to overwhelm the U.S. In 2021, nearly 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, an increase of 16 percent over 2020 statistics. Addiction nurse practitioners not only help provide treatment for patients and clients affected by substance abuse disorders, but they also help educate these individuals to help them make better lifestyle choices and stick with recovery. What addiction nurse practitioner programs are available for NPs who want to concentrate on this specialty? Keep reading to discover more about the top 9 addiction nurse practitioner programs.

Top 3 Benefits Of Addiction Nurse Practitioner Programs

Do you like watching patients get better? Then completing addiction nurse practitioner training is bound to appeal: Few other nursing specialties offer you the opportunity to see someone so wholly debilitated by an illness rise up and wrest back control of their life. There are other benefits to specializing in addiction nursing as well.

Benefit #1: CARN certification

Addiction nurse practitioner programs prepare you to take the Certified Addictions Registered Nursing (CARN) exam or the Certified Addictions Registered Nurse Advanced Practice (CARN-AP) exam. CARN-certified RNs are in high demand because this certification qualifies you to be a medical professional in a detoxification center or inpatient/outpatient rehabilitation facility. To earn a CARN certification, you’ll also need to complete 2,000 clinical hours in an addiction-related practice setting and 30 hours of continuing education related to addiction nursing. To earn a CARN-AP certification, you must complete 1,500 clinical hours in an addiction-related practice setting and 45 hours of continuing education related to addiction nursing.

Benefit #2: Salary

Certification as an addiction nurse practitioner can help you make a salary that’s 15 percent higher than the average nurse practitioner: Addiction NPs earn $142,960 a year, while nurse practitioners generally make $124,680. In addition to compensation, addiction nurses get excellent benefits. While benefits ultimately depend upon the type of facility you work for, many addiction nurses get compensation packages that include paid vacation, malpractice insurance, paid time off for professional leave, monetary allowances for continuing education, and generous employer matches for retirement savings.

Benefit #3: Employment opportunities

Addiction nursing is a growing field. The 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act opened up coverage options for individuals affected by substance abuse, and this has caused an increase in the number of available treatment and rehabilitation options. Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track employment trends among addiction nurses per se, BLS does project an 18 percent increase in the number of job opportunities for substance abuse counselors, and this can be used as a proxy statistic to predict employment trends for addiction nurses.

What Addiction Nurse Practitioner Programs Are Currently Available?

(The following 9 addiction nurse practitioner programs are currently available. The list includes college programs, certificates, fellowships, and residency training programs.)

1. NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing - New York, NY

Program Type: MSN (Substance Use Disorders)

To enroll in New York University’s three-semester Substance Use Disorder sequence, you must be a practicing NP. Your instructors will be experienced psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners as well as academics. This addiction nurse practitioner program consists of three classes: a foundational mental health course (designed for clinicians who don’t specialize in mental health), a didactic course on theories of addiction, and a 100-hour practicum at a substance use treatment facility located in the Greater New York City Metropolitan area. You’ll be able to participate in a mentored addictions research program at NYU’s prestigious Langone Hospital.

2. Loyola University Chicago - Maywood, IL

Program Type: BSN to DNP (Substance Use & Addictions Specialty)

Loyola University’s Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing offers a Substance Use and Addictions specialty as part of the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner clinical track associated with its BSN-to-DNP program. The specialty includes “Advanced Practice Nursing of Clients with Substance Use and Addictive Disorders Across the Lifespan,” a two-part didactic course, and a practicum experience at one of the highly rated clinical addiction centers in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area. Admission into the program and specialty are highly competitive and only open to registered nurses with at least one year of professional experience in a mental health practice setting.

3. University of South Alabama - Mobile, AL

Program Type: Addictions Nursing Subspecialty (Post-Graduate Certificate)

University of Alabama’s 15-credit Addictions Nursing specialty is a post-graduate certificate designed for master’s- and doctoral-prepared RNs. The curriculum focuses on substance abuse generally and opioid use specifically, as well as prevention, treatment, and recovery. The three lecture courses are offered online, making it easy to keep up with your professional and personal commitments. The three practicums can be arranged at addiction facilities within your own community. (A fourth practicum is offered as an elective course.) All students will be required to attend one mandatory skills intensive at the university’s campus in Mobile for skill-building exercises and simulation labs.

4. University of Maryland - Baltimore, MD

Program Type: Substance Use & Addictions Nursing Certificate

University of Maryland’s 12-credit Substance Use and Addictions Nursing certificate is unique because it’s not just an addiction NP program for advanced practice RNs but also open to RNs with no graduate credentials. The program was developed with assistance from a Nurse Support Program (NSP) II grant administered through the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission. However, it is open to nurses living outside the Old Line State. The curriculum consists of three online lecture courses and one 80-hour practicum and can be completed in as little as two 15-week semesters.

5. Drexel University - Philadelphia, PA

Program Type: Certified Addictions Registered Nurse (CARN / CARN-AP): Review for Certification

Drexel University doesn’t offer a specific substance use and addiction curriculum. What it offers instead is a comprehensive review course for RNs interested in taking the Certified Addictions Registered Nurse exam and for APRNs interested in taking the Certified Addictions Registered Nurse-Advanced Practice exam. In addition to course review materials, Drexel’s course also covers several theoretical frameworks for addiction and professional issues related to addiction. The nine-hour webinar is offered at intervals throughout the year, and you can receive 7.5 hours of continuing education credits for completing it.

6. Institute of Living - Hartford, CT

Program Type: Annie Goodrich Nurse Practitioner Fellowship (Addiction Track)

Hartford Healthcare’s Institute of Living’s contribution to addiction NP programs is the 10-month Annie Goodrich NP Fellowship, expressly designed for psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners seeking to hone their clinical competencies once they’ve passed their certification exam. The fellowship’s addiction track is divided into three trimesters. During the first trimester, you’ll train on hospital inpatient and outpatient services. Your second trimester will be devoted to subspecialties within the field of addiction treatment that specifically interest you. Your third trimester will be spent in a clinic practice setting.

You’ll participate in residencies at some of Hartford’s most prestigious addiction treatment centers, including Rushford Addiction, Journey House, general medicine, integrative medicine, and palliative care at Hartford Hospital, and court-ordered observational experiences in conjunction with a forensic psychiatry concentration.

7. The MetroHealth System - Cleveland, OH

Program Type: Addiction Medicine APP Fellowship

MetroHealth also offers a 12-month addiction nurse practitioner program in the form of a fellowship. The fellowship is only open to advanced practice RNs. Working as part of a team made up of physicians and APRN-certified nurses, you’ll offer treatment in an emergency room setting, work at a longitudinal clinic in a community-based mental health center, provide optional electives at a methadone clinic and an HIV clinic, and acquire experience at a pain management clinic. In addition to these opportunities for experiential clinical training, you’ll have the chance to pursue didactic education by participating in addiction medicine grand rounds at the medical system’s four Cleveland-based hospitals.

8. East Tennessee State University - Johnson City, TN

Program Type: Substance Abuse Nurse Practitioner Residency

East Tennessee State University’s program is another one of the addiction nurse practitioner programs offering a residency track. ETSU’s 12-month Substance Abuse Nurse Practitioner Residency is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of its initiative to improve healthcare throughout the Appalachian region. Participants will spend 12 months providing addiction management services in an outpatient rural health setting at one of ETSU’s six nurse-managed clinics in Washington, Johnson, and Hancock Counties. The fellowship carries a stipend as well as health insurance.

9. Massachusetts General Hospital - Boston, MA

Program Type: Integrated Substance Use Disorder Training Program

Massachusetts General Hospital’s one-year Integrated Substance Use Disorder Training Program is open to nurse practitioners licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. While this addiction nurse practitioner program contains a didactic component in the form of weekly lectures on a broad range of relevant subjects delivered by recognized experts, it mainly focuses on interdisciplinary field experiences.

You’ll rotate through Mass General’s inpatient addiction consultation service and perinatal clinic, do longitudinal rotations at other integrated primary care centers within the hospital, and provide outpatient treatment for patients affected by co-occurring mental health disorders at the West End Clinic. You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in an elective 24-week rotation in the addiction subspecialty of your choice.

Where Do Addiction Nurse Practitioners Mostly Work?

Addiction nurse practitioners work in a variety of practice settings, such as hospitals, community health clinics, residential and outpatient rehabilitation facilities, mental health clinics, and psychiatric facilities.

Work Setting #1: Residential Rehabilitation Facilities

Addiction nurse practitioner program graduates often take on management roles at residential rehabilitation facilities. They may provide the medical oversight that allows patients a safe space to detox and overcome withdrawal symptoms without incurring further health complications. NPs’ consistent presence on-site will also enable them to develop close, empathetic relationships with patients, providing added insight into the individual recovery process.

Work Setting #2: Community Health Clinics

Addiction nurse practitioner specialists also take on supervisory roles at community health clinics, where they’re often put in charge of staffing and other operational activities. They are involved with diagnosing and medically monitoring clients as well as developing treatment plans. With certain types of specialized training, they can provide therapeutic interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and talk therapy.

Work Setting #3: Psychiatric Facilities

Many patients in psychiatric facilities have long histories of trying to self-medicate their mental health condition through the use of alcohol or psychoactive substances. Addiction NPs have the training that allows them to identify these individuals and devise the customized therapeutic options these individuals respond to best. Nurse practitioners with addiction specialty certifications may also work in administrative positions at psychiatric facilities.

Starting Salary For Addiction Nurse Practitioners

Addiction nurse practitioners who have recently completed their certification process can count on earning $100,150 annually, which comes to $48.15 an hour, $1,926 a week, or $8,350 a month.

Hourly $48.15
Weekly $1,926
Monthly $8,350
Annual $100,150
(Source: Nursingprocess.org)

Average Salary For Addiction Nurse Practitioners

On average, addiction nurse practitioners earn $68.73 an hour, $2,749 a week, $11,910 a month, or $142,960 a year. This is 43 percent more than addiction nurse practitioners make after they first complete their addiction specialty training.

Hourly $68.73
Weekly $2,749
Monthly $11,910
Annual $142,960
(Source: Nursingprocess.org)

My Final Thoughts

We hope this article has addressed your questions about what addiction nurse practitioner programs are currently available. Addiction nurse practice may be a developing specialty at present, but the need for NP experts in this field is strong, which means training programs, salaries, and employment opportunities are all likely to increase. There may only be 9 addiction nurse practitioner programs in the U.S. at present, but that number is poised for an upward shift.

Frequently Asked Questions Answered

1. On Average, How Much Do Addiction Nurse Practitioners Make Per Hour?

On average, addiction nurse practitioners make an hourly rate of $68.73.

Salary Per Hour

2. On Average, How Much Do Addiction Nurse Practitioners Make Per Week?

The average weekly salary for addiction nurse practitioners is $2,849.

Salary Per Week

3. On Average, How Much Do Addiction Nurse Practitioners Make Per Month?

In a month, addiction nurse practitioners can expect to make $11,910.

Salary Per Month

4. On Average, How Much Do Addiction Nurse Practitioners Make Per Year?

Addiction nurse practitioners average $142,960 a year.

Salary Per Year

5. What Are The 10 Highest Paying States For Addiction Nurse Practitioners?

It should come as no surprise that California is the highest-paying state for addiction nurse practitioners since the Golden State also has the highest number of substance abuse treatment facilities—1,734 in all. Addiction NP salaries in California are 10 percent higher than addiction NP salaries in New Jersey (the second-highest paying state for addiction nurse practitioners), 12 percent higher than addiction NP salaries in New York State (the third highest paying), and 23 percent higher than NP salaries in Hawaii (the tenth-highest paying.)

RankHighest Paying States
StateAverage Annual Salary
2New Jersey$164,250
3New York$162,210
9New Mexico$148,560

6. What Are The 10 Highest Paying Cities For Addiction Nurse Practitioners?

All but one of the top-paying metro areas for addiction nurse practitioners are in California, though none of the cities on the list below lead the U.S. in terms of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine use. However, Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area are close to the top of the list in terms of earned salary figures. Since addiction and rehabilitation facilities are often billed as out-of-pocket expenses, it makes sense that treatment centers cluster near these high-income hubs. Addiction nurse practitioners in San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara make 5 percent more than addiction nurse practitioners in San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward, 17 percent more than addiction nurse practitioners in New York City/Newark/Jersey City, and 31 percent more than addiction nurse practitioners in El Centro.

RankHighest Paying Cities
CityAverage Annual Salary
1San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$228,900
2San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$217,940
3Napa, CA$216,930
4Vallejo-Fairfield, CA$207,530
5New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA$195,290
6Yuba City, CA$185,400
7Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA$180,950
8San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA$180,580
9Salinas, CA$179,930
10El Centro, CA$174,710

Pattie Trumble, MPP, MPH
Pattie Trumble is a nurse who worked in both California and New York for many years as an emergency room nurse. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Associate Degree in Nursing from the Samuel Merritt Hospital School of Nursing. After 10 years of providing direct care, she went back to school and earned concurrent Master’s degrees in both public policy and public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Thereafter, she worked for various public health agencies in California at both the community and state levels providing economic and legislative analysis.

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