Substance Abuse Counseling, certified substance abuse counselor

In all my years counseling with high risk criminals, substance abuse, alcoholism, and some mental health that are mixed together seems a hard task. There are rules, regulations and standards that need to be followed to ensure a positive experience. On one hand, there are counselors that want to help clients get out of the disease concept of addiction that is defined by using mood altering substances that only can be stop with jail, institution, and death. These are the only bottom line consequences that addiction follows and the cure is no where to be found. Sometimes a spiritual path can be found by accident when facing death or severe consequences or some kind of light bulb has turned on in the brain but no one knows for sure. Addiction with mood altering substances has been around for centuries and all the experts have not come up with the answer. As you know that science cannot replicate the brain and does not know how it works and controls everything in the body. An explanation is given but no cure to stop a person once he or she has start the drink or drug. We can only see symptoms of the start to finish and monitor behavior and recommend treatment. It sounds frustrating as it sounds and there is no one way of finding a solution. It is a dilemma with confounding variables as they say in the scientific method. Statistics can be influence and having a population of 100,000 people is suppose to be an accurate representation for the population. A sample size of that magnitude could be tested depending on what you are testing and how accurate is the instrument which can be measured or have validity as in the pandemic antigen test that looks like a urinalysis test panel except for urine, it is blood from individual. As a substance abuse counselor, I have tested urine for 13 years and seen false positives which can be stressful to the individual. When you have two lines usually in a category of which drug is a positive test. I seen people test positive for various chemicals from taking diet supplements, prescriptions, poppy seeds, etc. The laboratory like S and G or DLS, or precision labs usually charge for urinalysis tests that will be charged to the medical company for testing that came up positive on the drug screen panel of usually five, THC, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamines, and opiates. There is a form and strict rules with chain of custody to follow meaning that everything needs to be in sequence and put in a sealed bag with proper information on form and tags to seal bottle of urine. If is is not followed that the test is not accurate and will be discarded. Chain of custody is to do everything in front of the client and the urine is watched from start to finish and explained on what to sign for verification and consent. This is only a part of what a counselor has to do for his job. The other part is dealing with the documentation to provide individual counseling to the client using cognitive behavior therapy to help understand the sequence of thinking patterns that was created many years ago. An example is the belief system which has many thinking errors that was develop years ago when growing up. Sometimes the past can alter the mind from stressful situations as divorce of parents, parents dying, neglect, abuse, and trauma. These are the underlying problems that was not dealt with and has ben there for many years. The shame, fear, guilt tends to build up and ends in finding a coping mechanism as drugs and alcohol can solve temporary. There are those that might just use drugs or alcohol that was introduced and now becomes their lifestyle. Addiction is defined as a base line in an experiment where there is no alcohol or drug use but ends up in tolerance which the individual follows a pattern of using more and more over time and the symptoms become more noticeable and has side effects and consequences. Alcoholics is the hardest to deal with due to the accessibility of having alcohol all around society. It is acceptable to drink with others and have fun as in the commercials. The difference between a normal drinker and an alcoholic is when the normal drinker will leave a class half empty and say I had enough and leaves the bar. The alcoholic will look at the glass and say, What a wast of money? Alcohol is a drug and follows a pattern of tolerance for those who are addicted. Alcoholics have driving under the influence charges and sometimes do not connect drinking and drinking too well. How many alcoholics have drinking under the influence charges and cannot stop drinking alcohol but keeps driving. There is an error which comes first the chicken or the egg. Drugs on the other hand usually pass out and crash the car because methamphetamines can only keep up for some many days and then the brain shut off automatically and you crash the car. Alcohol causes blackouts in the brain where it shuts off and you cannot remember what happened the night before. Blackouts get longer depending how much was consumed and it is a danger because you are on auto pilot without reason and can run over people without knowing it. This is only part of what a CSAC counselor does and does not get paid a whole lot of money due to the stigmatization with working in this population. It takes a dedicated person to do this job from start to finish and a lot of people tell me that they would not like to do it.

Secondly, there is the client that is addicted to alcohol or drugs and not knowing what to do. If it is the first time to treatment, then it is lie an adventure into gaining more knowledge. Sometimes first time treatment episodes work and then addiction is realized and stopped in it tracks. Other times there are those that the alcohol or drugs will come back for more episodes of treatments that seem to be endless. I have seen people go to jail over a driving under the influence and prison for criminal charges relating to drugs. How does an individual get out of this belief system that was started years ago? It seems hopeless to some and the individual gives up in trying to stop the addiction. The denial is strong and when a person relapses to alcohol and drugs, he will think that there is no problem and will enter a downward spiral to jail, institution, and death. All the counselors can do is plant the seed of getting help at the correct place in treatment which are no guarantees that it will stop but it is better than nothing. Being a victim is not an option and it take guts to do something about life or death. The disease is progressive and it always gets worse each time an alcoholic or addict takes a drink or drug to solve problems. Change is difficult and life needs to meant more than just drinking and using drugs. I have been a counselor and now a therapist trying to help those who need it.

In the end, I want to tell all of those wanting to be a certified substance abuse counselor to do the good work in saving lives and I have been rewarded many times by words from the clients that give me good luck but I think it is spiritual and gave me strength to help more people get ahead from the disease of addiction. So, keep striving and help those that need help with stopping addiction and alcoholism, I was there in the beginning in the trenches starting at $36000 per year and working more than 8 hours per day helping my clients. Counselors need to help each other out by giving ideas to make the job easier. As you know that paper work is madness and I know how a crisis will not get paid and the other things that need to be done like PO reports, miscellaneous notes, treatment plans, review of treatment plans, individual notes, medical authorization, welfare papers, court reports, letters, discharge summaries, calling POs, lawyers, public defenders, CPS, DVR, TRO, consents, management, changes in funding, employment issues, clean and sober housing, rent assistance, IOP classes, dealing with the boss, dealing with clients, suicide, duty to warn, homicide, and small pay check. This is the job of the counselor and it has been a journey for some and for me as an adventure. Changes that has taken me to a different level of understanding the alcoholic and addict that can be changed through whatever it takes. So, if you are curious and want to learn then ask the questions and find out how you can help with the cause.

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1221 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 248
Honolulu, HI 96814

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