A Chemical Dependency Counselor is both a nurturer and a disciplinarian. The clients that we work with at Visions definitely need structure. They are in denial that their lives are spinning out of control. Most of them have a dangerous combination of low self-esteem and an invincibility complex. Academically, their grades are dropping due to a lack of motivation and numerous absences. Their family is falling apart because of a breakdown in communication. By the time our clients reach us, their parents have lost trust and are extremely frustrated. That’s where I come in.
As a Chemical Dependency Counselor, I attempt to help the client put the fractured pieces of their lives back together. The trick is finding a balance between providing the necessary structure, but in a nurturing way. The basic problem with the kids I see is that they don’t have the tools they need to deal with the problems of adolescence. They try to fix themselves with drugs and alcohol. I teach them new ways to cope with the stress of being a teenager. My clients are educated about addiction as a disease of the mind and the body. They need to find new ways to process their feelings. I assist them in finding outside support, such as a sponsor and good 12 Step meetings. I meet with them individually throughout the week, formally and informally. When the client leaves Visions, the clinical team tries to make sure that everything is in place so that the transition will be easy. Working with the clinical team, I help in planning a home contract that will keep them on the road that they started in treatment. Even though we do everything possible to ensure success, not knowing how things will work out is one of the hardest parts of my job.
My path began during my adolescence. I went off the deep end. I “bottomed-out,” felt lost, and had nowhere to turn (or so I thought). Fortunately, I found AA and now I am a recovering addict, so I bring a wealth of experience to my job. I’ve been working at Visions for three years. I started out as a Program Aide and I am now a counselor. I completed a two-year program at Glendale Community College. I have helped many young people regain their hope and sanity. I remember one particular client who came in with low self-esteem. He couldn’t imagine life without alcohol. After a couple of months of working the program and sharing his feelings, he used his personality to become a leader, sharing his confidence, and speaking at meetings. Now, others want to be like him because he has the structure and the discipline that he lacked while he was using.