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Why Do Recovered Addicts Work in Addiction Counseling?

Why Do Recovered Addicts Work in Addiction Counseling?

If you’re familiar with addiction treatment centers, you may have noticed that many of the employees are recovered addicts themselves. Many of those who haven’t been through recovery, have personal experience with friends or family members that struggled with addiction.

Recovering addicts often fill the positions of clinical directors, executive directors, case managers, and many other vital roles within addiction treatment centers. How can someone who has experienced drug abuse, alcoholism, or mental health problems be employed to help others with these same issues? Why do recovered addicts choose to work in a field saturated with triggers and temptations?

Some of the reasons those in recovery choose this field:

  • personal experience
  • willingness to help others
  • desire to stay active within the recovery field for their own recovery
  • addiction credibility and trust
  • ability to empathize

Personal Experience

An individual’s experience with addiction is the main reason they are so qualified to work in addiction counseling. This experience allows them to understand how clients feel in the early days of recovery because they’ve been there themselves.

Addiction counselors who have recovered from addiction know what it is like to hit rock bottom, they understand the need for treatment and can relate to clients on a personal level. Recovering addicts are often the most gifted counselors because they truly know what it is like, and they know that they can get better! They know that there is hope and that the grass is greener on the side.

Willingness To Help Others

Recovered addicts know that addiction treatment works. They are living proof! This creates a desire to help others reach sobriety. This is a common reason why drug rehabs hire former addicts for addiction counseling or other positions. These same former addicts make the best mentors and sponsors because they actually believe in change.

The experience of addiction makes it difficult for people to believe they can change, but this is because they haven’t seen it happen firsthand.  Recovering addicts have seen the power of addiction counseling first-hand. They’ve experienced the changes and are now able to empathize with clients who are fighting a losing battle with addiction, and they know what it will take for them to reach recovery.

Many recovered addicts also choose to use their journey to inspire those afraid to take the first steps toward recovery.  Some recovering addicts may have traveled a long road of healing, but they know it is possible for those who are still fighting the battle. 

Desire To Stay Active Within The Recovery Field For Their Own Recovery

Why do people who have been sober for 20 years still go to meetings and support groups? Recovery is a lifelong commitment! Working in recovery is a healthy way for recovered addicts to stay active and inspired in their recovery.

The primary reason that recovering addicts are willing to work in the recovery field is that they want to stay active within the recovery community. There is a lot of debate about working in the field; some people say that it can be very triggering for people and some may feel the opposite.

When you are around those in early recovery, it isn’t glamorous. Many of these clients are in poor health and at rock bottom. Most people choose to not see this as a trigger, but rather as motivation to never want to use drugs again.

Addiction Credibility and Trust

Clients often look for a counselor that can empathize with them. Someone who has experienced similar struggles and had the same fears, such as graduating from rehab to living outside of a treatment center. Someone who can share their experience without it being too clinical or cold.

Addiction credibility and trust are extremely important when looking for the right treatment center.  The client must feel safe and comfortable, without the fear of judgment. Creating an environment where trust is the foundation is helpful for someone beginning their sober journey. Someone who has already been through the recovery process knows this better than anyone.

Ability To Empathize

Recovering addicts have proven that they know what it takes to be sober. They also understand the challenges involved in staying off of drugs or alcohol and can empathize with those who are struggling.

Some former addicts are now pursuing a career as an addiction counselors because of the relapse they experienced with their substance use disorder. They want to help others avoid such relapses. Recovery from addiction is a process that does not end once someone has quit using drugs or alcohol.

Recovering addicts are often on a lifelong journey to stay sober and avoid relapse. Even after recovering addicts have started a whole new life, with plenty of reasons to stay sober, they sometimes find themselves slipping into their old ways. This is the mere fact why someone who has gone through these exact struggles can help others on their journey.

Why Do Recovering Addicts Make Some of the Best Counselors

It’s not uncommon for recovering addicts to work in addiction treatment. After all, this is a field that they know intimately and one where their experience can be an asset. If you’re interested in finding out more about how recovered addicts can empathize with clients struggling with substance use disorders or if you want to take the next step of the recovery process, contact Harm Reduction Center. Our team of experts recognizes recovery looks different for everyone and we will stand by you as you or your loved one walks this journey.