Now that you are well on your way on your own personal path to recovery, and have been successfully drug and alcohol free for quite some time, perhaps you are beginning to think about the ways in which you can help others follow in your footsteps. Certainly, you can offer a great deal of support by simply continuing to attend group therapy, and interjecting your own experiences and insights there. Or, maybe you have already been approached to be a sponsor for someone new to the recovery process, and have even gone as far as to accept and have embraced that role to the fullest. These are certainly wonderful ways to help others, but maybe you want to even go a step further, and feel that now you would like to pursue a career in the addiction recovery field. That’s great! There are wide variety of different positions and jobs in this realm, with varying levels of education and experience required. Read on to see which might be right for you.
Do You Have What It Takes?
Before looking at the different types of jobs that are available in the addiction recovery field, it might first be helpful to look at some of the personality traits that are helpful to people working in this type of vocation. First of all, as someone who is working on your own recovery, you are familiar with the obstacles and struggles faced by people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. You can deeply understand the challenges and obstacles they face, and you know what it feels like to be in their shoes. This can be extremely helpful for people working in the substance abuse recovery field. Depending on which study you consult, the percentage of addiction counselors that were addicts themselves range from 37% to as many as 57%. But is having experience with substance abuse yourself enough to truly help others?
Although being a recovering addict can obviously be quite helpful when working with people who are trying to recover, simply having experienced it yourself is unfortunately not enough alone to help people. First of all, addiction counselors need a great deal of training to effectively help others with these sorts of problems. But even beyond that, you will need patience, empathy, excellent communication skills, flexibility, and above-average social skills of all kinds. You need to be aware of the fact that everyone’s journey is different, and that an individual’s situation may be vastly influenced by cultural, socio-economic, traumatic, and other factors that may be entirely different from your own. You need to be ready for anything, and be eager to experience success, but also be prepared for disappointment and heartbreak, too.
Most of all, as a recovering addict yourself, are you truly ready to take on someone else’s struggles almost as if they were your own? Are you ready for the emotional rollercoaster that you will feel at work, every day, day in, and day out? Are you strong enough in your recovery to weather the storm, and persevere on your own recovery path, while empathetically feeling all the successes and failures of your clients? Ask yourself all of these questions and more before pursuing a job in this field.
Although it will be wonderful to help others, certainly, it will also be devastating to see how many others you cannot help, and you need to be ready for all of these emotions, and know how to deal with them. On average, American adults who are employed full time work 34.4 hours per week, but in a position like addiction counseling, it’s likely that you will work even more hours than that, and even when you do go home for the night, it will be difficult if not impossible to turn off the emotions you have been feeling all day. Helping substance abusers and addicts find the resources they need to succeed and giving them the support they need is truly a full time and deeply engrossing job.
Job Options in the Addiction Recovery Field
Once you have considered all these things, if you still feel that a job in the addiction recovery field is right for you, you have a number of options. All require training, but not all of them require a college degree. Depending on what appeals to you most, you may be able to start soon, or you may instead have many years of education ahead of you. Remember, you can always start at the bottom, and then work your way up with time and education as you go. Perhaps you should see if you like it first before investing in a college degree; after a few years in the field, you can always go back for more schooling.
The most common job in the addiction recovery field is that of an addiction counselor. Addiction counselors work with people of all ages to help them overcome their addictions. Although we most commonly think of drugs and alcohol as the main addictions out there, addiction counselors also treat other addictions, such as gambling, sex, or obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Addiction counselors can lead support groups or work with individuals one-on-one. They track the client’s successes and failures, suggest additional services that could be beneficial, and keep families and loved ones up to date about progress. In some cases, no degree in counseling is required, and counselors can learn their trade through on the job training from others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for addiction counselors will continue to grow over the next decade, so it is certainly a position with a great deal of job security at this time.
In order to be a psychologist, you need to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree, but most psychologists go much further than that and receive a master’s degree or even a doctorate. Psychologists treat what is going on in the mind through therapy, and can be of great help to people pursing recovery. Unfortunately, many addicts are suffering from mental illness or past trauma, and intense work with a psychologist is necessary to recognize these issues and to address the root of the problem effectively. Although becoming a psychologist requires much more schooling than is necessary to become an addiction counselor, the increased training also results in higher pay for people in these positions.
Psychiatrists are actual doctors and therefore they have not only received an undergraduate degree, they have also attended medical school. As a result, they are able to prescribe medicines that other people in the field cannot. In the addiction recovery field, medication is only used when there is a medical condition that cannot be improved through traditional therapy methods. Most people trying to get clean and sober from an addiction never meet with a psychiatrist, because they don’t need to do so. However, some individuals require this level of intervention and a relationship with a psychiatrist can be very helpful to their success. With that said, though, most addiction psychiatrists do not have a lot of direct contact with their patients, so if working with people is what draws you to the addiction recovery field as a career, this position may not be right for you.
Becoming a social worker can be very rewarding, despite it being well known as a fairly low paying position. In the addiction recovery field, social workers can help people in recovery immensely. They are interested in the safety and welfare of the addict as well as any dependents the addict may have. Social workers help people in recovery find services that can help them start their lives over. They can help them find jobs, places to live, childcare, and more. To become a social worker, you must pursue a college degree in social work, but once you have obtained one, there are countless non-profits with positions for social workers in every city, county, and state in our nation.
Addiction Nurses & Detox Specialists
There are so many different jobs in the medical field that do not require medical school, and working as an addiction nurse or detox specialist is a great way to help people who wish to break free of their addictions to alcohol or other drugs. Both of these people work in a medical setting helping individuals on their first steps to their new lives. Detox specialists study the process of detoxing from various substances to ensure that the process is safe and as painless as possible. Addiction nurses care for patients in their early stages of rehabilitation and keep an eye on their vital signs to make sure they are getting clean and sober in a healthy way. Both of these positions require medical training, but you can get started on either path with an associate’s degree.
Substance Abuse Researcher
If you like numbers, and prefer research and study over working directly with people in a care setting, the role of substance abuse researcher may be right for you. At any given time, there are hundreds if not thousands of studies going on related to drug use, substance abuse, addiction, and recovery, and scientists and researchers are needed to conduct them and analyze the results. The publication of these studies help doctors and other addiction recovery professionals to stay abreast of what addictions are on the rise, and what methods are most effective in treating them. Most people in these positions likely began with a degree in an applied science such as psychology or sociology, in an applied science such as biology or chemistry.
Each of these positions works together to help people work on their recovery from drugs or alcohol, and chances are, you encountered people in most if not all of these roles on your own recovery journey. Now, it’s your turn to turn around and help others who need you. There are so many different options when considering jobs in the addiction recovery field, so if you try one and feel that it isn’t for you, there are always others you can attempt as well. Not all of them are for everyone, but it’s likely that through trial and error, if you are ready and willing to dive into the addiction recovery field, you will eventually find one that fits you just right.
At Clear Sky Recovery, our dedicated staff encompasses many of these roles. If you have not yet begun your own path to recovery, we would love to help. Our ibogaine detox is effective in interrupting addictive behaviors and is administered at our facility in Cancun, Mexico. We are standing by to answer your questions about the ways in which ibogaine can help you in your unique and personal situation. Please call us today!
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.