Sunday, March 16, 2014

Diary of an Addiction Counsellor

Many things come up in the day of an addictions counsellor. Sometimes the breadth of topics covered is hard to imagine. It can range from discussions about sleep and what time the client got up in the morning, to how to set a boundary with their spouse, to how to grieve the unexpected death of a friend, and that might take you to lunchtime. It is varied and often unpredictable but therefore also interesting.

I imagine that there are many people dealing with addictions and/or working on recovery who do not actually make it in to talk to a counsellor and maybe some of the topics covered here might be helpful. Sometimes I will write about relevant recovery topics and sometimes I will just write about my own thoughts on what I see and experience. Maybe other addiction counsellors will be able to relate.Maybe family members or loved ones of a person with addiction will find it interesting.

I think one of the major premises of recovery from addiction, and possibly any change, is that people do not change unless they are somehow motivated to do so. What makes one person motivated may not make any difference to another. Will a DUI do it or loss of a job or an ultimatum from a spouse. For some it is a health issue like liver disease or pancreatitis that finally hits home. I have often heard people say that they are no longer using to have fun but rather are only using to stop withdrawal. It is no longer fun for many by the time they make it in to the office.

Working with people in addiction and recovery can be very inspiring and real and even fun. There can be lots of laughter along with the tears. In my experience many clients are smart and attractive and most are very emotionally sensitive (although they may not realize it.) There are some days when what is happening seems so meaningful and essential that I think "Wow, what could be more important than this conversation with these people right now?"

In some ways having an addiction, if it leads a person to treatment, can be a blessing in disguise. That may seem an odd thing to say but for those who get a chance to really focus on themselves and their lives in counselling, the opportunity is there to learn and change and thereby avoid much future pain. Of course I am not recommending that addiction be the chosen way to begin the journey of personal growth and change, I am just saying that it can be.

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