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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2016 11:07 pm 
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I have spoken with my suboxone doctor and he fully supports my decision to go into the field of drug/alcohol counseling, but i would love any input i could get, hopefully from someone that has been in this situation, but all advice of course is welcome. I can't think of a better place to ask about this...
I have been in a suboxone program for apx. two years and am on a rather small dose. This medicine along with Xanax has allowed me to be free from drug use for quite some time as I have not used illegal drugs, or misused my prescribed medication in any way for years now and this is what has saved my life. I do agree with many principles of AA,Na,ect, but for me, I needed medication in addition to rehab and then meetings.
I want so badly to go back to school and work in the field of recovery but due to the fact that I'm on this medication I'm afraid that I will automatically be disqualified from working in a treatment center, and am afraid of going to school to become a drug abuse counselor only to find that I'm left with the choice of giving up the medications that are working for me, or doing so much work and spending so much money for nothing.
I understand that the method I am using is not something that would work for everyone, and I personally think that every situation and person is different and their treatment should reflect that...
Basically, if I want to pursue a career in drug/alcohol counseling, do I need to be off these medications if I am expecting to find work in this field? I know that some people wouldn't even consider me a sober person. I was helped so much in my own in patient treatment by counselors that had addiction issues and I think I could do the same, and do it well for someone else in the place that I was when I decided to stop using.... Please, any advice would be welcome..
Thank you all so much in advance for any advice!


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2016 1:51 pm 
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You answered the question when you wrote 'some people wouldn't consider me to be a sober person'. I don't think that any regulatory issues will stand in your way-- but the question is whether you will find an enlightened employer. As you may know, one of my missions is to try to spread the idea that addiction is just another illness, that deserves the same consideration as any other illness. We don't expect most other illnesses to simply go away by themselves; we treat illnesses or conditions far less complicated that addiction using medications, intended to be taken for life-- asthma, hypertension, diabetes, inflammatory or autoimmune disorders, elevated lipids or cholesterol...

I would encourage, btw, other people to do the same. When you see the comments after a relevant article about addiction, make a comment about this issue. Don't bother arguing, as nobody ever changes minds after an argument.... but make a subtle comment that encourages people to question these attitudes. There is truly a battle going on right now--- and now is the time to turn minds. Look at my latest blog at http://www.suboxonetalkzone.com for example. The other side knows they have a losing argument, and their worry shows.

But back to you-- At some point, if you go forward, you may to make the argument above. My may also need to get some help from others on the issue-- and I'm always happy to provide a letter about the topic. The Federal Government 'gets it'. They don't seem willing to DO much about it other than hand out a few grants... but they at least understand that medications are needed to treat most cases of opioid dependence. And I think that over the years, medication-assisted treatment will get stronger, and become more accepted-- although I admit to being surprised that it has taken this long for that to happen.

BUT... there are a lot of abstinence-based zealots out there who will NEVER be convinced. I think your decision will depend on a couple other things, such as whether you are willing to move to find a job? If not, you will have to take a good look at the opportunities in your area. The places where you are most likely to find a sympathetic employer would be a clinic that treats patients with buprenorphine, or even methadone-based programs, which always employ a number of AODA counselors.

Most recovering addicts feel more comfortable with someone who has 'been there'-- so if you have the other qualities of a good counselor, you may have found your calling. As for 'other qualities', I mean the ability to empathize, to listen, to take a complicated story and break it down into manageable pieces, to care but still place firm boundaries, to be patient with someone who is venting their anger at you... those are some of the things that make for good counselors, in my opinion.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2016 11:16 pm 
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I am currently earning a masters degree in addiction studies. I am not worried about finding a counseling job when I am finished with my degree. First of all, I plan on working at a place that believes in harm reduction. I could never work for a program that was abstinence only because I don't believe in that model. It certainly doesn't work for opiate addicts. I am completely open to my fellow students that I take buprenorphine as part of my recovery and no one has said anything negative to me about it.

One of my jobs, as I see it, is to advocate for effective recovery tools like buprenorphine. I spread the word as much as I can! I refuse to be cowed or ashamed of my recovery. I leave the shame for organizations that refuse to utilize evidence based practices like suboxone.

The tide is going to turn! I know it is! I'm not sure when, but I know it's coming!.

Amy

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2016 10:19 am 
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Hi Bryan, Welcome! Great topic! Some feel that the best counselors are those that are in recovery themselves. People like it when you share your story but they very rarely ask about it as they respect how personal of a journey it has been. I have been in the field since 1986 and worked with people who are at all stages of change. You and only you make the decision about how much you want to share. I don't remember ever hearing of someone who has been fired for their past. So, I say, go for it! Your experience will only help to make you a compassionate and effective counselor! Enjoy today!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:27 pm 
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Thank you for sharing your thoughts guys. I appreciate it so much!


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 8:48 pm 
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I am currently going to a methadone clinic and my councilor has all of her certifications and I think she's good. When we were going through the getting to know you stage during the first appt. of course she gave me the short version of her story so I would know she comes from the same place I do which of course is important. Obviously who wants to listen to someone that has not been where we have been. That being said, the thing that made the best impression on me was when she admitted she was on Suboxone. When she told me that I knew right away I was with someone that could help me. And she has been helping me, a lot.

She did say to me that she had not informed her bosses of this particular detail. She said that she trusted and liked me enough to admit that she's on it but did not feel the need to tell them because she really wanted the job and did not want to risk being passed up by another who is not on anything. In a highly competitive work force I completely understand why she'd do that, especially in a world where most people, even at methadone clinics still believe in the abstinence model more than the replacement therapy which is where we're all at.

She's only been working there for a few months and I imagine eventually she'll let them know and they'll keep her or not but yeah, I guess it's a gamble sometimes. But to your point Bryan, from my perspective, the patient, I would give you all the more respect and credence having a councilor on the very medication I need and am seeking support, wisdom, experience and first hand knowledge from......thanks for sharing.....megster


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