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Is there a way to avoid sacrificing passion for professionalism?


It’s a very important question ……

When I started as an Educational Consultant nearly 20 years ago, most people working in direct care programs were also in recovery themselves. In fact, it was not uncommon to find that their own long-term recovery constituted the primary quantifiable qualification they brought to the table. They brought charisma, and counseling skills, and they could satisfy the rudimentary paperwork requirements of the times. But the main thing they brought to the job was their passion.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was barely 35 years old, President Nixon had just “declared war” on drugs, therapeutic communities were starting to gain traction, and methadone programs had been around for just under a decade.

Most programs (except methadone) were residential. Many had administrators who weren’t in recovery. But members of the front-line staff believed in their work, mostly because they lived it. Today it much more difficult for people in recovery to enter the recovery field. First off, there are now regulations that demand a certain level of qualification—either a higher education degree or licensure that has a significant education component.

People entering recovery often do so in middle age, and with responsibilities they had avoided in their period of insanity, such as families and jobs. Going back to school, particularly full-time, proves difficult. In addition, we’ve excluded many people from eligibility as a result of past behavior. Many of the pioneers in our field would be barred from working in it under today’s rules. Expectations and qualifications for this field changed. Why? Well, mistakes certainly have been made.

Some people went right from treatment to working in treatment, and there were instances of insufficient supervision, client abuse, questionable tactics and counselor instability. Like we do in response to so many problems, we addressed those issues with more regulations, supposedly to prevent them from recurring. Your credentials don’t legitimize you—your clients do. It’s not about how many books you write or how much you earn in speaking fees.

It’s about how many people credit you for positively influencing their recovery.

I’m not one to believe that you need to be in recovery to provide high-quality recovery services. But it does strike me that those who are in recovery believe much more in the efficacy of what they are doing. For them it’s not abstract.

I haven’t done the research, but I’m guessing that the degree to which we are adapting to the ideas and whims of those outside our field directly correlates to the reduction of recovering people in it. It is much easier to buy into the concept of “harm reduction” if you’ve never experienced the varying levels of harm and come out the other side.

It is much easier to buy into the efficacy of medication-assisted recovery if you’ve never experienced it and later achieved abstinence. It is much easier to see dual diagnosis less as an anomaly and more of the norm if you’ve never seen addiction and/or mental illness, either individually or together from the inside. And it is much easier to rely on the quantitative aspects of the research, if you’ve never experienced the qualitative. When we professionalize the field to the point where the passion is gone, we’re in trouble. I don’t support a return to days gone by, but I do think we are dangerously close to moving too far in the other direction.

Do you know why you are doing everything that you are doing in your professional life? 

Why you are living where you are living, why you are doing the work that you are doing, why you are the person that you are and the reason that you want the things that you want out of life?

Do your clients know how passionate you are?

Reference

Dan Cain is President of RS Eden, a Minneapolis-based agency that operates chemical dependency treatment programs, correctional halfway houses and a drug testing lab among its services.

For children who were broken, it is very hard to mend……


by Elia Wise 

For adults who were treated badly as children

For children who were broken, it is very hard to mend…… 

Our pain was rarely spoken and we hid the truth from friends. 

Our parents said they loved us, but they didn’t act that way.

They broke our hearts and stole our worth, with the things that they would say. 

We wanted them to love us.

We didn’t know what we did to make them yell at us and hit us, and wish we weren’t their kid. 

They’d beat us up and scream at us and blame us for their lives. Then they’d hold us close inside their arms and tell us confusing lies of how they really loved us — even though we were BAD, and how it was OUR fault they hit us, OUR fault that they were mad. 

When days were just beginning we sometimes prayed for them to end, and when the pain kept coming, we learned to just pretend that we were good and so were they and this was just one of those days … tomorrow we’d be friends. 

We had to believe it so. We had nowhere else to go. 

Each day that we pretended, we replaced reality with lies, or dreams, or angry schemes, in search of dignity …. until our lies got bigger than the truth, and we had no one real to be.

Our bodies were forsaken. With no safe place to hide, we learned to stop hearing and feeling what they did to our outsides. 

We tried to make them love us, till we hated ourselves instead, and couldn’t see a way out, and wished that they were dead.

We scared ourselves by thinking that and scared ourselves to know, that we were acting just like them –and might ever more be so. 

To be half the size of a grown- up and trapped inside their pain…. To every day lose everything with no savior or refrain… To wonder how it is possible that God could so forget the worthy child you knew you were, when you had not been damaged yet … To figure on your fingers the years till you’d be grown enough to leave the torment and survive away from home, were more than you could count to, or more than you could bear, was the reality we lived in and we knew it wasn’t fair. 

We who grew up broken are somewhat out of time, struggling to mend our childhood, when our peers are in their prime.

Where others find love and contentment, we still often have to strive to remember we are worthy, and heroes just to be alive. 

Some of us are healing. Some of us are stealing. Most are passing the anger on.

Some give their lives away to drugs, or the promise of life beyond. Some still hide from society.

Some struggle to belong. But all of us are wishing the past would not hold on so long. 

There’s a lot of digging down to do to find the child within, to love away the ugly pain and feel innocence again.

There is forgiveness worthy of angel’s wings for remembering those at all, who abused our sacred childhood and programmed us to fall.

To seek to understand them, and how their pain became our own, is to risk the ground we stand on to climb the mountain home. 

The journey is not so lonely as in the past it has been … More of us are strong enough to let the growth begin.

But while we’re trekking up the mountain we need everything we’ve got, to face the adults we have become, and all that we are not.

So when you see us weary from the day’s internal climb … When we find fault with your best efforts, or treat imperfection as purposeful crime … When you see our quick defenses, our efforts to control, our readiness to form a plan of unrealistic goals … When we run into a conflict and fight to the bitter end, remember …. We think that winning means we won’t be hurt again.

When we abandon OUR thoughts and feelings, to be what we believe YOU want us to, or look at trouble we’re having, and want to blame it all on you… When life calls for new beginnings, and we fear they are doomed to end, remember… Wounded trust is like a wounded knee– It is very hard to bend.

Please remember this when we are out of sorts. Tell us the truth, and be our friend. For children who were broken… it is very hard to mend.

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Child abuse leaves permanent physical and emotional scars for a lifetime.

Please, if you see a child that looks like they aren’t being treated right: dirty, timid, pronounced startle reflex, skinny, bruises scratches or burns in various stages of healing, PLEASE call your local child abuse hotline, you could save a child. 

Please call Childhelp USA, 800-4-A-Child or your local Child Protective Service agency or Department of Human Services, whichever agency in your state and county accept reports of alleged child abuse to investigate.

All states require certain professionals and institutions to report suspected child abuse, including health care providers and facilities of all types, mental health care providers of all types, teachers and other school personnel, social workers, day care providers and law enforcement personnel. Many states require film developers to report.

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