It’s one of the most common paths for recovering addicts to choose for their lives after they successfully complete drug and alcohol addiction treatment: becoming a drug rehab counselor. Equipped with the firsthand experience of how easy it is to develop an addiction and how hard it is to successfully combat the problem, all the recovering addict is missing is the required education and certification.
But is it a good idea for someone in recovery to become a drug addiction treatment counselor after attending drug rehab? What are the pros and cons?
Pros of Choosing Drug Addiction Treatment Counseling as a Career
You know the ropes of treatment. You know what it’s like to be an addict. You know the ploys and manipulations that are common among patients who are trying to fool themselves into thinking that using or drinking “just once” isn’t that big of a deal – you may have tried a few of those games yourself. You’ve got “street cred” if you’ve spent years with an active addiction and this can be extremely valuable in getting through to people who need help.
Another plus: the education you need to get started working at a rehabilitation facility with minimal responsibility is a certification that often takes just a couple of years to acquire. The classes may also serve to help you remain dedicated and focused on your own recovery, a requirement if you’re going to work in substance abuse treatment.
Cons of Choosing Drug Addiction Treatment Counseling as a Career
It’s not always the best choice for people in early recovery (the first couple of years) to spend so much time around active addicts. In some cases, new counselors with a long drug addiction history may be more likely to be influenced by the patients they are meant to be helping to sobriety than the other way around. Running into old friends with whom they used to use drugs and alcohol can be a trigger as well, and some drug addiction treatment counselors even report stealing the addictive prescription medication of patients when they felt tempted to get high.
Also, those in recovery are not known for always being sensitive to the feelings of others. Part of the process of growing in treatment is learning how to take responsibility for one’s own actions, follow rules even when they seem silly or unreasonable, and treat others with respect even when having a bad day. Often drug addiction treatment counselors bear the brunt of the abuse when patients have a tough time and for those in the first few years of recovery, this can be difficult to take.
Whether or not the job of drug addiction treatment counselor is right for you will depend upon you, your personality, your long-term goals for yourself, and your ability to prioritize your sobriety even when the job gets stressful.
By Wendy Lee Nentwig