A career path which I am considering for my future is that of a substance abuse counselor. Substance abuse counselors provide assistance and therapy to clients wishing to stop their use and abuse of alcohol and drugs. I am considering this field because of my personal experience with substance abuse and a desire to help others towards recovery, as well. In order to further understand this occupation, an acquaintance who works in the field and who possesses a similar background agreed to meet with me to discuss her career.
I met with Christine, an acquaintance I know through members of a twelve step program. We met for about 20 minutes over coffee. As we spoke, I asked the questions that I prepared, omitting some and adding others based on the responses given. The list of questions in reproduced in the last section of this work. Christine works at an inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in New Jersey, the specifics of which have been intentionally omitted. Her interest in the field is identical to mine; she has a personal history of substance abuse. After obtaining sobriety, she wished to help others with her experience. This similarity is the primary reason I wanted to discuss this topic with her.
Christine’s current position requires a bachelor’s degree in a health related field, although she noted other counselors at her place of employment have master’s degrees. She is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) in the State of New Jersey. Certification involved verifying education and experience, completing an exam, and paying a fee. Christine is also a member of the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC). Membership in this organization is open to all professions in addiction treatment.
Most of our conversation was devoted to the activities in which a substance abuse counselor engages on a daily basis. Christine reported a varying work schedule with some early mornings, some late nights, and some weekends. She said that she has about 8 clients assigned to her at any given time. She meets with each of them each day individually. The main focuses of individual therapy include helping her clients transition into recovery, increasing mood and outlook on life, and developing strategies for not using. A group therapy session is held with all of her clients each day, and focuses on sharing problems and issues and building unity within the group. She also has larger group sessions with all the clients at the facility, sometimes focusing on a specific issue. Christine also says she holds a family session with each client and the members of their family at least once during their stay at the rehabilitation center. Family sessions allow the addict and the members of the family to talk about past issues and to develop goals for the future. A lot of time is spent each day documenting each client’s treatment. Records are kept of notes from each...