Substance Abuse Among Licensed Counselors Term Paper

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However, a different kind of problem may arise, when the counselor himself was a user and an addict, and has recovered fully from his addictions, to move on to become a legal counselor of others like him. (NIDA, Introduction and overview)

Take for example, the case of when a drug abuse and substance abuse counselor was among the fifteen people who were arrested recently in Harlem. The police charged this particular individual with being a part of a fifteen-member gang of cocaine and crack distributors on Long Island. Andrew J. Maloney, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, identified the counselor as Al Richardson, 40 years old, who was allegedly a distributor in a drug-selling ring, in which each 'runner' in the enterprise, or in other words, the individual who makes the actual sale of the drug, cocaine or crack, sold as much as $2,000 a week. The unfortunate part of the entire affair was the fact that Richardson had been working as a counselor at the 'Addict Rehabilitation Center' at Park Avenue, with a clientele of almost three hundred odd patients addicted to drugs and alcohol and other similar substances. (Morgan, 1998)

What made it even worse was the truth that Richardson had been a counselor at three other clinics before he joined the Harlem clinic as a counselor, and he had brought along excellent references from his previous jobs. However, stated the police chief, there was no real evidence that Richardson had bee engaged in buying or selling drugs at the clinic, but the arrests were a culmination of a two-month long investigation by the Long Island Drug Task Force, a joint operation of a team comprised of state, local and Federal law-enforcement agencies, during which numerous telephone calls that had been made by Richardson to his wife, also a part of this illegal operation, were intercepted by the police. This drug counselor was also charged with making threats to shoot those customers who had failed to make drug payments on time. (Morgan, 1998)

One must remember that substance abuse counseling is a serious and responsible task, and that the counselor must never attempt to misuse his position and take advantage of the situation in order to seek gains for himself. He must follow the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics with the utmost sincerity and caution. It can be stated therefore, that Substance abuse counseling is a form of community outreach that would need plenty of patience and a keen sense of compassion and a desire to help others who have landed themselves in great difficulties. Most of the time, drug abusers do not have any idea of whom they must approach to sort out their problem and overcome it, and the duty of a counselor is to refer a patient to a wide variety of other services that would apply to other areas in an addict's life in which he may need help, and thereby help to provide a safe and stable platform upon which they can stand when they are making a serious and concerted attempt to overcome their addiction problems. (Career Profiles, Career: Substance Abuse Counselor)

The substance abuser may therefore be directed to a family agency, or to a food pantry, or to a physician or psychiatrist, or to a vocational training center, to a lawyer, a welfare agent or any other professional, depending on his personal and immediate needs. Says one counselor, one of the most frustrating areas of their work is that even after an addict is reasonably cured of his problem, and he approached an individual for a suitable job, so that he would be able to live a stable and independent life, he would be refused on the basis of the fact that he was an ex-addict. Said one reformed addict and drug abuser, "People hold addicts more responsible for their problems," and most of these people find it difficult to gain a suitable position. However, about a twenty percent do get jobs, and a good counselor feels an immense sense of satisfaction and happiness at having made this possible for this particular individual. (Career Profiles, Career: Substance Abuse Counselor)

However, staying 'clean and sober' would require a lot of vigilance and watchfulness on the part of the patient, and this means that 'recidivism' or backsliding' would become
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a major hurdle to overcome. An effective and watchful counselor would be able to keep a close guard on the patient's condition, and when backslide does happen, as it does in numerous cases, it can become a major source of disappointment and depression for the counselor, who feels that he has failed. The counselor may also be face with the prospect of having to watch his patient die, which may happen due to a combination of various circumstances, like for example, homelessness, mental illness, and AIDS. (Career Profiles, Career: Substance Abuse Counselor)

For the counselor, who may at times be a recovering abuser himself, this can be one of the most traumatic events to deal with, because he would not only have to face the deterioration and eventual death of his patient, but also learn to control the various emotions of anger and frustration that he may feel when faced with these stressful circumstances. It is often said that this is the stage when one would have to be very careful, because the counselor, who may be actually in the recovery stage himself, may become depressed, and resort to his old habits of alcohol and drug dependency. This may be the one of the main reasons why the burnout rate for a counselor of drug abuse is extremely high. (Career Profiles, Career: Substance Abuse Counselor)

Doug Butler was one individual who had lost everything: his home, his family, his job, and his position in society, all because he was busy looking for either his next fix, or for his next drink. By the time he 'hit bottom' he knew that he would either have to change and find a solution for all his problems, or die. Somehow, Butler not only cleaned himself up, but went on to complete a course in college and became a hero to many others as a drug and alcohol counselor, because he was able to see himself in everyone he helped. He also became an individual, grimly determined to beocme sober and remain sober for the rest of his life, and therefore, he went about piecign all the lost bits and pieces of his previous life together. Soon enough, his life became seemingly whole and beautiful and normal again, and he assumed that he was finally free form his painful past life. However, he did not take into account the damage that the addictions had done to his physical body, and one fine day, he sufferede form a masive cardiac arrest, and died on the way to the hospital. He is even today, hailed as a hero. (Robertson, 2004)

The resaon is because of the fact that Doug Butler found the courage and determination to overcome all the hurdles in his path, and find the solution to the problem, for others in the same situation. Reports say that Doug Butler went back time and again to the streets of Sacaramento, where he had lived and become a drug abuser, and from where he hadeventually escaped, to beocme a normal and whole person and a counselor for others like him. He would advise and counsel others who were living in the same traps as he had lived in, and told them who he was and where he had been and what he had suffereed through his bleak and dismal years as a drug and alcohol addict. He would stand by the addict when it seemed like they had no one else to turn to, and he dedicated his life to them, in trying to counsel them and save them from a life of dgradation and misery. Said one recovering drug addict, Frank Fawcett, aged 47, "He made an absolute mess of his life, and he turned it all around, that's why he worked so well with people who needed help. They knew where he was coming from.." This is one of the best reasons why many people prefer counselors to have 'been there and done that', so that he would be able to empathize better with others in the same position as he was at a previous time in his life. (Robertson, 2004)

What are the options available to deal with the problem of the ethical issues involved in the issue of substance abuse among licensed counselors of alcoholics and other substance abusers? Take for example, Virginia, where counselors and mental health professionals are regulated by either the board of Counseling, or by the Board of Psychology, or Medicine, or Social Work, or Nursing. The Certified Substance Abuse Counselors are professionals who have been entrusted…

Sources Used in Documents:


ACA Code of Ethics: The ACA Governing Council." Retrieved at Accessed 20 August, 2006

ACA Code of Ethics and Standards of practice" Retrieved at Accessed 20 August, 2006

Boren, John J; Onken, Lisa Simon; Carroll, Kathleen M. "NIDA, Introduction and overview"

Retrieved at Accessed 20 August, 2006

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