Most individuals who have lived with addiction will be acutely aware of how few mental health services are available in America today. Figures analyzed by US News indicate that over 6,000 providers are required in the country to bridge the gap, and labor market predictions show that it’s unlikely the shortages will be met any time soon. This presents a real opportunity for people recovering from addiction. Few people have the in-depth experience and insight required to tackle addiction that people recovering from addiction have – and, there are recovery benefits to be gained for the counselor as well as the patient.
Learning to provide
It’s essential that anyone giving professional advice and treatment to someone diagnosed with addiction is qualified. Qualifications in medicine and health studies can be put to good use in this arena as a result, but the qualification absolutely must be there to be effective and for safe care to be provided. A report by the Independent highlighted the increasing numbers of unqualified counselors taking up work in Ireland, and the significant damage they can do – not just to patients, but also to themselves. Accordingly, it’s important to get all of the proper skills and training involved, and use experience of the same situations to complement and boost that work.
For people who have experienced addiction, the biggest challenge of then becoming an advocate is transference. This is an issue in all psychological settings and, indeed, trained counselors and psychiatrists take on their own mental health self-care to help minimize the risk of trauma. This is something that survivors of addiction who turn to the career of assisting others will need to be especially mindful of, in order to avoid relapse. However, the power of speech, and sharing with other people in similar situations, is something that can’t be taken for granted, and will help to more rapidly develop recovery for the patient while also providing benefits for the counselor who has, too, experienced addiction.
Developing own benefits
According to British advocates network Addictions UK, it is quite common for people diagnosed with addiction to then study mental health science and, sometimes, become an advocate. Part of this is the huge focus on giving and helping that providing support focuses on. Transference and countertransference are huge risks, but with peer review and professional training, that can be turned into a way to self-reflect. Addiction is often a lifelong condition, and remission isn’t always permanent. Pushing back against potential relapses can be achieved through this self-reflection, making advocacy and counseling work something that is beneficial for all parties.
Studying mental health while going through addiction recovery is a powerful way to develop skills and start to mend. It’s also a career path, and a recovery addict have a huge set of skills and deep experience that lend themselves to a long-term recovery. A two-way situation, it provides massive benefits for everyone involved.