The Best Drug Rehab Will Have a Staff of Addicts
Let me first start by saying that I do believe many great treatment centers in the United States do have people on their staff who are amazing therapists and who are not in recovery themselves. Science and education today allow the average non-addicted person to gain unprecedented access to the thoughts, minds and behaviors of addicts. I am in no way saying that a drug rehab should only be run by drug addicts and alcoholics. In fact, there are many drawbacks to employing a staff of 100% recovering individuals. I will lay those concerns out now, to get them out of the way and to assure the reader that this article is not meant disparage or injure the dedicated men and women who are not in recovery and still serve our chemically dependent.
Drawbacks to Drug Rehabs Employing Drug Addicts
1. Relapse: When a person who is not addicted to drugs or alcohol drinks, they don’t have to be fired.
2. Impulsivity: Addicts and alcoholics are very impulsive people, even in recovery. They may act quickly without thinking or become tempted to partake in behavior unbecoming of a responsible person in the work place based on their addiction.
3. Burnout: Men and Women in recovery often attend several AA or NA meetings a week to maintain sobriety. When sobriety is also what pays the bills, it can be easy for a therapist in recovery to not attend as many meetings outside of work, which can eventually compromise there sobriety.
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It Is a Great Idea to Employ Drug Addicts at Drug Rehab.
Sure, I just laid out the three points why hiring alcoholics at a rehab center may not be a good idea, and all of them are true. There are drawbacks and concerns to any decision in life. I just wanted you, the reader to know that I am aware of the concerns and still feel that the best drug rehab will have a staff that includes recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. They can be found in a wide range of position from being a CEO, Accountant, Therapist, Tech, Security Guard, Yoga Instructor or even a janitor. When staff members of the drug treatment center are in recovery it makes it difficult for a client to run in to someone who is not providing the experience, solution, trust and hope required for recovery.
I’ve Been Here Before I Can Show You the Way Out
If you have heard this story before, read it again anyway because it is the best reason why the staff of treatment centers should include recovering addicts. There is a man who has fallen into a well. He’s at the bottom of the well and he is yelling “help”! Another man walks by with a rope and throws it down to him. The rope breaks, and the man is still trapped. Then another person walks by and gives him words of encouragement tells him to try hard and he could make it out. The man felt better for a bit but, he’s still stuck in the well. Then a third person walks by, sees the man and jumps in the well. “Why did you do that? Now we are both stuck in here”, cried the first man in the well. The second man explains, “We’re not stuck, I’ve been here before, I can show you the way out.”
If studying and getting good grades on “the test of how to be an addiction counselor” could get people sober, 99% of people would be sober. Yet, recovery, permanent recovery is so much harder than that. It is a spiritual journey of hard work and determination that takes a team of like-minded individuals working together. When a therapist is also in recovery from addiction they are not speaking to the addict from a place of knowledge or authority but from a place of compassion and experience. I did it and so can you. A Staff member in a recovery center who has several years sober and clean will be able to understand the addict far better than a normal person. In turn the addict will be able to understand the staff member as well. The first man in space must have been terrified, the second man well, at least he knew it had been done before. It’s that simple.
It Takes an Addict, To Know an Addict.
Who knows gorillas better than anyone else on the planet? Dr. Jane Goodall? No… another Gorilla. Jane could have studied Gorillas in the mist for another 200 years, and she wouldn’t know as much about the giant apes as a 3-day-old baby silverback. It takes a drug addict to truly know a drug addict. A chemical dependency therapist who has gone through the process of recovery is far better suited to lead an alcoholic or drug addict from addiction to recovery and better equipped to fulfill the role of an addiction counselor.
Wake Forest University offers a masters program in addiction counseling and on their website, they say that the role of an addictions counselor is to…
Create a Therapeutic Alliance with Patients
Encourage Patient Recovery
Help Patients Develop a Relapse Prevention Plan
Meet with Family Members to Provide Guidance
Refer Patients to Outside Support Groups
Every point made by the University would be much easier to accomplish and more effective with a recovering alcoholic or drug addict as the primary therapist. Creating a therapeutic alliance with a man or woman who is receiving Intensive outpatient therapy (IOP) or attending an inpatient treatment center is much more powerful when the counselor reveals they are in recovery as well and on the same team as the patient. Encouraging patient recovery is simple when you can prove that you yourself have done it. A relapse plan developed by a person in recovery is far more credible, parents will find far more hope from a therapist in recovery and referring a patient to an outside support group gains far more trust when they are referred by a person who goes to support groups.
Here is the point we are trying to make. Would you take flying lessons from a person who has never flown a plane?