What is an Addiction Professional?
An addiction professional is a counselor, therapist, or any other health care professional that specializes in addiction. Their job is to provide quality client care by teaching Relapse Prevention, how to build a recovery support system, provide tools to help assist client in emotional regulation, and help clients reestablish a connection with hobbies, morals, values, etc. that were once cherished. They also are there to create a safe environment for the client to begin “peeling the layers of the onion” and to begin the healing process. It is their job to help address the issues that surface while the client is in treatment/counseling and to provide a healthy alternative for the clients so they are able to cope with these challenges.
It is truly a fine art working in the recovery world because addiction is very complex, and it definitely takes a special soul to help these individuals climb out of the pits of self-destruction. These professionals come from educational and trained backgrounds so that they are able to provide proper care and services for the client.
The addiction treatment world continues to grow at the speed of light. New ways of treating individuals crippled by addiction is taking a strong turn for the better. The reason being is that addiction is very complex which means treatment needs to be consistent and dynamic. There is a treatment center for most addictions and proper resources are available to help clients reclaim their lives. These human beings go most of their lives without help and subconsciously go into “survival mode” to shield themselves from the world. If presented with the opportunity to get help and go to treatment/counseling, there is hope that they no longer have to walk this journey alone.
Living a life of destruction, denial, and loneliness can be incredibly challenging for the client to break free from before entering treatment/counseling. Treatment/counseling is only the beginning of the client addressing their deep seeded challenges. Mustering up the willingness to address these issues with a professional is frightening. Being in their desperate state, this is the last house on the block.
Taking the client from their familiar lifestyle of hopelessness to placing them in a new environment with the unfamiliar is a shock in itself. Most likely these clients will be experiencing withdrawals, have been victims of traumatic events (living a lifestyle addicted to anything is traumatic in general), or have no idea how to function on a minute-to-minute basis without their drug/drink of choice.
How Do Clients and Families Know There is Professionalism with the Addiction Services Provided?
If you or your loved one has thoroughly done their “homework” and research on the facility, counselor, or treatment they are seeking, then you are headed in the right direction. The list below will provide information on how addiction professionals should be (ethically speaking).
Safety – Many clients who enter treatment or therapy will have issues surrounding safety and security. They cannot trust themselves, let alone anyone else. It is important for the professional to create safety for the client so growth and progress can be made. It could be that the client is triggered at some point during a 1-on-1 with the professional. It is the addiction professional’s job to help guide the client through this in a non-judgmental, educational, and gentle manner. It is also their job to help explain what the client is experiencing. Professionals who are in good ethical standing will participate in trainings on safety precautions to take and how to create protective environments for themselves and also for their clients.
Continuing Education – It is an Addiction Professionals job to remain educationally current in their field of practice. These clients and their families have trudged a painful road and have finally made it to the point of potential hope. It is the professional’s job to provide that hope and provide it with their very best potential. Most addiction professionals are required to have a license, credential, or a certain amount of schooling prior to practicing in the field. New skills and new ways to treat clients are being created rapidly in the field of addiction, so continuing education is a must.
Confidentiality– Confidentiality falls into the safety category also. People who are recovering from addiction and mental health disorders desperately need a safe place to grow and evolve into their true being. If a professional is breaking confidentiality, the client no longer has a safe place to learn and grow. When clients are under the care of licensed professionals, states laws also protect them. The ways confidentially generally are practiced with licensed addiction professional’s are:
- Not revealing with another party what was discussed between client and professional unless client has/had given consent to do so.
- Not disclosing to anyone other than the client of appointment times and not discuss that they are seeing the client for therapy/counseling.
- Discuss client’s personal information with another client that the professional works with.
- One of the occasions when confidentiality can be broken is when the client threatens to harm his or her self or another human being.
Meetings/Communication – The way any team thrives and excels is through unity. And with unity there must be communication. Communication is vital in any business. In the mental health industry/addiction industry, it is crucial that communication remain alive and active among the professional’s. They are dealing with individuals (clients) who prior to treatment/counseling were dying of a fatal condition. The lives of these individuals have been placed into the hands of these trusted professionals.
Ethics – Ethics are everything that is listed above (and more) when talking about an Addiction Professional. Many people have their own understanding of ethics, personally and with their career, but I decided to cruise over to Wikipedia to share their definition of Ethics: “Ethics (also moral philosophy) is the branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.”
Each addiction specialist or professional will be different, so ethics will vary. The treatment world is very diverse and some guidelines will be irrelevant in some of these communities. NAADAC.ORG is a global association for Addiction Professionals that is geared towards helping people recover from addiction and getting businesses of recovery up to date on the services they provide. “NAADAC promotes excellence in care by advocating for the highest quality and most up-to-date, science-based services for clients, families and communities. NAADAC does this by providing education, clinical training and certification.”
With all of that said, this is just a taste of how an Addiction Professional should be. As a potential client, or even as a professional, understanding this job description and its ethics will help you comprehend what you are a part of and it will also lay the foundation for security and trust. Being educated, aware, and thorough with your research on the Addiction Professional topic will bring clarity, understanding, and hope of a new horizon that you have needed (this goes for everyone who reads this)!