Are recovered addicts better therapists?

“To be or not to be” –William Shakespeare.

A true dilemma for a recovered addict, who is now actually capable of being a counsellor.

De-addiction is very hard, but just as rewarding. Nothing can be as satisfying and gratifying than leading a normal productive life and fulfilling the moral obligation of giving back to the society – helping the addicted brethren and leading them toward a clean and normal life.

Due to a shortage of professional counsellors, there came hope and belief that an individual in recovery could be trained to become a para-professional. Because, once the addict in recovery enters the profession or field of addiction counselling, they are provided with certain barriers because of their past association of substance abuse, to avoid getting back into the conundrum they just returned from.

Becoming an addiction counsellor is not easy. It requires long term professional education and significant work experience. Most importantly it requires strong mental health and determination to succeed. The addiction treatment industry lacks well trained addiction counsellors and who better than the trained, recovering addicts?

A great outcome of the rehab centres and de-addiction centres is that many of the inmates who were once addicts make the very best counsellors.

Why or How?

  • Recovering addicts are equipped with empathy and understanding that is unmatched in those who have never been drug addicts or alcoholics
  • They are very important in counsellor –patient/client relationship, because addiction counselling is more about trust and a two way comfortable relationship. Counselling then becomes significantly more effective
  • There is a strong and justified belief that a recovered addict can be trained as a para-professional which will help someone else and keep him or her in sobriety.

Pros of Recovered addicts as counsellors:

  • The recovered addict knows all the ropes, knows what it is like to be an addict, knows the common ploys and manipulations of the addict,understands the mentality that “just once” will not be just once, can look through excuses and requests which may sound logical or acceptable to someone who has not been in that condition.
  • Cons: The recovered addictcounsellor is quite likely to be influenced by the very patients who he meant to be helping to sobriety. Drug de-addiction counsellors bear the whole brunt of abuse of their patients and have a tough time themselves as they themselves are newly recovered and at a very vulnerable stage.

It is the success of therapy and the social responsibility provided by best drug treatment centres that not only treat addicts but also help society by influencing recovered addicts to help others who are deep down in the same abyss.

Hope Trust in India has professional training programs that equip recovering addicts become effective counsellors in the growing addiction treatment field. These courses are conducted by an experienced and certified faculty, in collaboration with overseas treatment providers and certified by OCN, UK.