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How You Can Put Your Past Addiction to Use to Help Others

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Approximately 22.3 million people in the United States live in recovery after battling addiction. Some studies show that 3 out of 4 addicts eventually find healing and live fulfilling lives.

Are you recovering from addiction? Have you gone through a considerable transformation from active addiction? Do you want to know how you can help others going through the same?

We have some information for you. Keep reading to learn the different ways that you, as a recovering addict, can work toward helping fellow addicts.

Recovering From Addiction and Living in Recovery

Anyone who has hit rock bottom seeks recovery. Recovery means accepting you have addictions and realizing your powerlessness, and taking steps to free yourself from dependence on substances.

This could be done through sheer willpower if you’re one of the lucky few. Otherwise, it’s through seeking treatment and building a network of support. Unfortunately, without a support network, it becomes very easy for the recovering addict to slip into old habits and relapse.

Treatment could be in the form of:

  • Rehabilitation centers (especially helpful if covered by health insurance)
  • Accessing free resources like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Free or reduced-cost treatment

Take time to find the right treatment plan for you. Recovery is not a one-size-fits-all so finding the right facility and counselor is crucial.

The Importance of a Support Network

Knowing you’re not alone in your struggles can help motivate someone to keep pushing on, even when they feel there is no point. By building a solid support network of people who understand, you have people you can lean on in times of struggle.

Having other recovering addicts in your network can help you identify when things are slipping for you. This can be especially helpful because, as addicts, having peers dealing with the same struggles can recognize signs of an impending relapse and step in to assist before it’s too late.

How You Can Help Fellow Addicts

Many people who find recovery find great purpose in helping other addicts find freedom. There are several ways you can achieve this.

Join a 12-Step Program

12-Step programs like AA have been going since 1935. This led to partner programs like Narcotics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous adopting the same 12 steps for their disease. This is the most fundamental way one addict can best help another, as it costs nothing but your time and dedication.

Becoming a part of a fellowship means sharing your experience, strength, and hope with others seeking recovery. Recovery is not always pretty, so sharing your battles and losses helps other addicts push through their hardships, knowing they are not alone.

Take Up Service

Once you have joined a fellowship and are sharing at 12-step meetings, you should consider taking a volunteer position. These positions are unpaid but are invaluable to the recovering addict or alcoholic. Service positions typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Chairperson (they lead the meeting)
  • Secretary (organizes the meetings and service members)
  • Treasurer (handles donations and tithes)
  • Literature (handles the buying and selling, and distribution of group literature or keyrings/tokens)
  • GSR (participates in service committee meetings and handles voting, etc.)
  • Coffee/Tea Support (manages the coffee/tea stand, biscuits, etc.)

Each of these positions directly assists other addicts in recovery and is an essential part of the successful running of the fellowship. These positions are also global and are happening everywhere, where there are 12-step programs.

Start Helping Other Addicts

As an addict in recovery, you may find a lot of fulfillment and purpose in helping others through the same things you went through. Understanding what they are going through will allow you to have empathy that someone who hasn’t been through addiction may not have.

Some treatment centers will hire trained addicts in recovery who have been through their treatment program and may consider bringing them on board once they receive formal training. The key is that you are required to have undergone formal training as required by a certifying body, either in the form of an addiction studies certificate or an addiction studies degree.  In California, there are several certifying bodies that outline exactly what is required.  You can check out the requirements below.

How to Get an Alcohol and Drug Counseling Certificate in California

If you’ve made up your mind that you want to give back, you will want to know how to get a formal education in addiction studies. Several institutions offer alcohol and drug counseling certificates, and others offer associate’s degrees or even bachelor’s degrees in the field of addiction.

When looking for a place to learn addiction studies, you may want to find an accredited college. This means the institution has undergone a peer review of its curriculum and instructors, and pertinent governing agencies approve them to offer the program. You know the standard of the training you are receiving, as they must match specific requirements set by the accreditation commission.

The skills you will likely learn during an Alcohol and Drug Counseling Certificate program in California are:

  • How to communicate with clients and their families
  • A greater understanding of counseling group facilitation
  • The ability to impart knowledge about coping methods and techniques
  • How to maintain private medical records under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
  • What records are required to be maintained in a client file.
  • Several valuable counseling skills and techniques
  • Co-occurring disorders between mental health and addiction
  • How to become certified in California as a drug and alcohol counselor

Once you graduate, you can pursue several career paths. For example, you have the possibility of seeking the following positions:

  • Addictions Counselor Assistant
  • Alcohol and Drug Counselor Technician
  • Residential Advisor/Assistant
  • Outreach Specialist
  • Case Manager
  • Prevention Specialist
  • Mental Health Worker

Course time may vary, but typically you should be able to complete your certificate course after approximately one year, including a clinical internship.  

Make a Difference in Someone’s Recovery

Realizing that life has become unmanageable is often what plants the seed of addiction recovery, and when you hit rock bottom, recovery is the only feasible way out. However, if you’ve battled the disease of addiction and have managed to find a stable life in recovery, you can be well equipped to help another.

If you’re recovering from addiction and looking for an accredited alcohol and drug counseling course, look no further. At InterCoast College, we have both Alcohol and Drug Counseling Studies certificate program and addiction-related degree programs.  We also have a Behavioral Health Assistant program. Contact us to learn about the programs available today.

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