If you are a recovering addict who has experienced the saving power of drug rehab in your life and overall well being, it is natural to wonder how you can also effect change among individuals who are currently in the throes of drug and alcohol addiction. The answer to your question could be to join the addiction treatment field as well.
By working and investing time to get your addiction counselor certification, you will have the opportunity to turn your negative and awful addiction experience into something good and positive. As a former addict, you have an advantage that no “clean” addiction specialist has – real life experience.
Imagine, instead of merely quoting words from books or citing anecdotes about what former addicts have been through, you can share your personal ordeal. You will be able to relate and connect with your patient like no other counselor can. Numerous studies show that patients in rehab are more inclined to open up to counselors who are former addicts because they believe that the latter can better identify with what they are going through.
How to Get Started
To officially start your career as a substance abuse counselor you need to acquire an addictions counseling certification issued by the state. To this end, make sure to find out the educational requirements you need to fulfill in order to qualify.
If you have already earned an associate or bachelor’s degree you may start enrolling in accredited colleges and universities for additional addiction studies classes. While there are various ways to enter the addiction treatment field, higher educational attainment will allow you to be in a position to assist more recovering addicts and acquire addiction counselor certification easily.
Apart from addiction classes, you also have to work under the supervision of an experienced and licensed counselor to get actual on-the-job training. While you may have learned techniques and approaches from the way your addiction specialist worked with you during the recovery process, there are still many things to learn.
Important Pointers to Remember
While former addict-turned-addiction-counselor is a common occurrence, the transition process requires a lot of time, effort, and commitment. While you are still contemplating on the idea, here are important things that you need to remember on your way to helping other addicts toward recovery:
- Every patient in the addiction recovery process is unique.
Individuals who are suffering from substance abuse disorder have their own separate stories. While their symptoms and manifestations appear the same, the root cause of the problem and what they are going through is different. This means that you should make sure to separate your journey from that of your future patient. Avoid imposing treatment approaches just because they worked for you in the past. Remember that a treatment plan should be specific to the patient.
- Being in the substance abuse treatment field is difficult.
Helping others, paying it forward, and impacting the world are wonderful concepts and are all true once you become an addiction counselor but it comes with a price. The entire process and the job itself are difficult and emotionally demanding. The rewards of the job are extremely satisfying because the investment is serious.
- There is no perfect addiction treatment organization.
Every rehab facility has its own weaknesses – even the most reputable ones. The organization is composed of humans with their own frailties, which means there will come a time that the facility you are working in will disappoint you. You need to be able to deal with it and move on.
At the end of the day, helping drug dependents to recover is undoubtedly a noble profession. And for a former addict like yourself, it is an opportunity to give back.