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PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:14 pm 
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As many of you know I am a student working on becoming a counselor(addiction studies). I recently had a situation at school that was quite shocking. As part of my education I have to volunteer at a practicum site (treatment center). My teacher for this class is very crude at times- and I just chalked it up to her being ballsy, nothing more. She set me up with a supervisor at the practicum site and I called this woman to talk about when I would start. She asked me if I was in recovery and I said yes. She asked where I attended meetings and I told her that I did not attend local 12 step meetings now, but that I have in the past and found they did not work for me personally. I told her I have worked the steps, she asks what step I am on, how long have I been clean, who is my sponsor, etc- bombarded me with questions. I finally stopped her and said that I have been finding my support through online groups and family, and that my recovery is better than ever. She did not like my answer and said we would need to speak about it further if I was going to work there. I assured her that I knew the program was based on 12 step recovery and that my personal recovery choices would not interfere with my abilities as a professional.
She told my teacher about the conversation. I was asked to come in for a meeting and my teacher started to ask the same questions the supervisor did. I told her that I was not comfortable having this conversation- but she told me I need to ask myself why I don't want to go to meetings locally because if I don't reconsider,I may not be able to finish the school program. She went on to say that people in recovery, especially counseling staff all "talk" and if I am not seen in the local recovery community- I won't be trusted, I will not find employment, etc. I honestly was in shock- Isn't 12 step recovery based on anonymity? Why should I worry about people talking about not seeing me at a certain meeting? Is that not the stupidest thing to say? All we hear about in school is being professional and to not provide much self disclosure to clients.
I felt I had to explain about my being on Suboxone. I told her it conflicted with the ideals at local meetings for me and that I was very happy with my chosen path, but again I was told I need to reconsider.
So do you think what happened was wrong? I do. I have a letter going to the dean of the health career programs and I wrote a letter to the teacher telling her what I planned on doing. That was over a week ago and she has not replied. The best part of this mess was the fact that while in the meeting my teacher complimented me about how much I improved myself and she loves seeing me with makeup on and my hair done for class. She went on to say that when I first started classes, she thought I was a "bull dyke" and began laughing and said, "no offense". How's that for professional educator?

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 Post subject: unprofessionals
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:39 pm 
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My god Shelwoy, it is kind of shocking but...the last part of your story just really completely sells your teacher as purely unprofessional (that is, if the first part isn't enough, which..it IS enough for me...) As you may know, I don't have much of a success story (yet) but....I'll tell you one thing, I"m glad I have doctor who doenst' think 12-step is the only way to successfully treat people with addiction issues. From your other posts I understand you are a pioneer in medication-assisted addiction treatment, and...again, I personally thank you for that. Sounds like discrimination pure and simple to me...and your point about 12-step is well-taken...in fact the non-anonymity aspect of it is one of the things I don't like about 12-step for myself. I'll repeat here though, that I'm NOT "against 12-step" --I see that it help a LOT of people, and I would not even say that I'd never try it again or anything or eve claim that I've given it "enough of a try" to be sure it wouldnt' help me...I'm just saying I believe that not everyone is exactly the same in their needs for support and what works best for them.

In any case, Thank you for posting this Shelwoy--I'm sorry to hear you're facing this kind of ignorance from people who are supposed to be able to behave professionally. And I wish you luck....Please keep us posted, I wish I could give you some more kind of solid support....If you don't feel it's inappropriate to share them, I'd be interested in seeing the letters you've written your teacher and the dean of the health dept...If I could help by writing a letter about this issue to someone..I could definitely try to come up with something appropriate....though this sounds like a pretty personal issue for you....


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:56 pm 
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OMG! That is insane, and I think completely inappropriate. I'm pissed for you right now. I wish I had some good advice but I think you are covering the bases pretty well yourself. Please do keep us posted.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 11:03 pm 
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I would ask if that is a requirement for all counselors at thier facility for those that are in recovery........I personally think that this is bull shit.....There are closed meetings you can attend and you don't even have to share.....This is the kind of shit that I wish would happen to me so I could sue the shit out of people......Stay strong....


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:54 am 
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No, this is not a requirement for all students. It was an isolated occurrence, but this teacher has a reputation amongst students as a whacko.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:11 am 
WTF? The worst part about it is that only students in recovery have to endure this kind of third degree. There can't be any standards for addicts (attending meetings, working the steps) that are not required for non addicts. I would like to ask of this supervisor and teacher, what step is SHE on, and who is HER sponsor, because she definately needs to call her.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 12:45 am 
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Hi there- I know this post if from a few days ago, and please forgive me for sticking my nose in....but I just have to say...I think it is awful to be treated that way. Regardless of what "Program" an individual chooses for recovery, it is a personal choice, and what works for one person may not work for another. What IS important, is---the choice you made, works for you, and that is ALL that matters. Under NO circumstances should it have ANY bearing on your abilities as a professional, and what happend to you is beyond rediculous, it was down right harrassment!! Once again, sorry to invade your post here, it just burnt me, to hear that you had to endure such ignorance, along your way to being a professional. Keep your chin up...Lisa


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:26 am 
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lisa2269-

You most certainly were not sticking your nose in- I posted it for everyone to see that this type of behavior still exists in our institutions of higher learning. I truly hope for justice, for the dean to step in and make me believe in the process of fairness.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:33 pm 
Hi Shelwoy, I'm glad you posted again. I've been thinking about you the last couple of days. I think you said on another thread that you decided to go back on a low dose of sub. I know that the lack of support by your educational program was one of the reasons you wanted to get off sub, but now I'm wondering if all the stress and flack you're getting from them contributed to your decision to go back on. I know you got a lot of negativity on your other thread, but I hope you'll let us know what is going on with your sub program and your training. I really hope that a lot more peoplelike you who have experience with sub become drug counselors. I really feel like it's an information blackout out there. I was in a bookstore today and I glanced through about three books on opiate addiction (it's a hot topic now) and not one of them even menionned Sub.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:52 pm 
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Shelwoy,

I've been out of town and haven't been on the forum for a week or so and had no idea that you had decided to go back on a low sub dose either. First, I think this is totally out of line. You might be able to sue the shit out of them for discrimination against a person with a disability. Addiction is a medical problem. They can ask that you take a drug test and submit to random drug screenings. They cannot dictate your medical treatment plan or psychological treatment plan. They can ask you how you would handle a situation with a client who didn't want to go to meetings. Or who thought the 12-steps weren't right for them. They can ask you what your philosophy on recovery is. They cannot ask YOU what you do for your recovery. They are STUPID in my opinion. You NEVER ask a prospective employee or intern anything about their medical background or conditions because if you decide not to hire them for some OTHER reason, they can come back and sue you for discrimination.

You are right to be angry and you are right to say something. If it were me, I would consider suing. If you are in a small area and it is true that they all talk to one another, and now one person knows, you could be barred from employment with other employers.

As for your instructor, I think she is a whack job and the fact she is so stupid she isn't even informing these prospective employers that what they are doing is WRONG and could get them in a lot of trouble...and even more so that the program as a whole isn't speaking to the recovering addicts in these classes and letting them know their RIGHTS and discussing discrimination is just negligent if you ask me.

On the note of going back on a low sub dose, I just want to let you know you are supported in whatever you decide to do. I haven't read that post yet but I know for me, going back on it was a difficult decision. I went through a lot of emotions including feeling like a failure, feeling disappointed that it wasn't easier, feeling frustrated with myself, and then eventually just respecting this disease for what it is and how powerful it is. I moved on to a place where I was okay with it. But it was a mental / emotional process in getting there. I hope you are doing well and are happy with your decision.

Cherie

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 Post subject: staying on sub
PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:42 pm 
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Hi Shelwoy, you haven't posted here in a while and i hope things are going ok for you. I also don't mean to harass you or anything but I too am curious about why you decided to get back on sub, if you feel like sharing more about that. I'm not sure which other thread you maybe have discussed that on, but I think I'm going to go look at the thread about "how long will you stay on sub" after I post this. I remember from your taper thread that you actually chose to taper off because of some particular circumstances (maybe it was insurance or financial considerations, sorry I don't recall exactly) and therefore it wasn't exactly like it was your first choice to taper off sub right when you did. I'm only asking about it because I'm wondering for myself how long will I stay on sub. Pretty clearly my doctor would prefer that I get OFF sub although has not exactly pressured me to...my doctor would rather I take sub than heroin after all and that is clear, but I think my doc just hopes that eventually I'll feel strong enough to stop taking sub and also be able to say away from heroin or other drugs. Also, at one point I DID stop taking sub... just because I ran out and was out of refills. I didnt' do a long taper or anything, just basically ran out. I actually didnt' have terrible WD and after about 4 days i was feeling better, but then I relapsed and it was just clear to me I was going to keep on relapsing, so I went to see my doctor and asked to stay on sub. then....I kept on relapsing a lot AND taking sub...but FINALLY now after many months I am doing better...and maybe that is only because my circumstances changed so that heroin is not so readily available to me me anymore...but...whatever the reasons at least I am doing better now.

Anyway, Shelwoy, I am also curious about how your situation at school is going. That teacher really does sound like a wildly inappropriate person. She really sounds too unprofessional to be a teacher so it seems like maybe it is important for someone to do something to call her on her inappropriate behavior. But it's a drag to have to be the one to do it of course....I'm sorry you find yourself in this situation having to deal with this person who is personally offensive as well as unacceptably unprofessional. And, as I've mentioned elsewhere, i feel personally appreciative of your being active in the field of medically-assisted addiction treatment, as I am learning more about suboxone, yet it is still not exactly well known, and certainly not well-understood, not even by addicts or professionals in addiction treatment.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:42 pm 
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Your instructor's comments seem wildly inappropriate to me. I work for a government agency that provides employment supports to persons with disabilities. Per the law, this includes persons with substance abuse diagnoses. Often--far too often, IMHO--these individuals want my help to attend CADC programs. It's not surprising, addicts feel they know this field and what it takes to help other addicts. Unfortunately, many of these would-be counselors don't have the 'soft skills' needed to get along with others. Remember the ego that comes along with addiction? We always knew best when we were using. It's hard to stay humble. It sounds like this is the case with your teacher. Also, she might be a bit rough around the edges. Many of my candidates for training have no other experience with higher education. They speak and understand 'street' but have impaired social skills. It's tough to have a role model who thinks it's OK to describe you as a bull dyke. My goodness!


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:40 pm 
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I'm probability misinterpreting replys but just in case, is being on subs considered some kinda disability?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:45 pm 
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Drug addiction can be considered a disability & so is protected by certain laws in employment situations.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:47 pm 
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I don't want to be considered as disabled and would not sue someone becaue they possibly violated my rights under the "americans with disabilities act". There must be a more appropriate course of action to resolve this??


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 4:12 pm 
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Thats just me though and if I was in the OP situation, I'm sure I would look for damn near anything which would help me achieve my goal. It really sucks that she/he is in a situation like that because of stereotyping and corporate policing.


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 Post subject: Wow....
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:57 am 
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That is I feel so wrong. I have a very similar story as yours. I too am in recovery I have been on suboxone for about 5 years. I ended up in school to become a alcohol and drug cousnleor...I didnt have the same experience as you...thank god. I was told during an interview for my internship that I disclosed too much just by saying I was in recovery myself. Thats all I said. I didnt go any further than that. And the feedback was that I shouldnt have disclosed if I was in recovery or not. told the man interviewing me that part of me wanting to be in the feild I am in is because I have been through it. I want to be opened with my boss and other employees I know with clients you have to be careful and only disclose what would help them. I dont feel the school I went to was the best but it got me where I wanted to be and today I have an amazing life...an amazing profession. I do attend AA n my area and I have never had a problem with alcohol. I am looked at as not clean by NA in this area so I feel more comfortable with the AA community the meetings I go to are because I feel welcome and I am treated with respect and as a clean recoverng person. I do cation any client who is on suboxone that they may want to keep it to themselves if they go to meetings. I do feel it is between the doc and the client. Its an outside issue in my opinion.
I'm sorry you had this happen to you I dont think it is right at all.

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