|In October I will reach my 40th year of service to individuals caught in the destructive cycle of chemical dependency. As I look back, like many who chose this profession, I wanted to make a difference. Have I achieved that goal? The answer is a resounding yes, but not in the way you might think. 40 years of working with addicts and alcoholics have made a difference in me.
I have gained far more than I have given witnessing the raw courage of patients I have had the privilege to work with. Watching an individual arrive at La Hacienda knowing that they “need” help, getting through detox and awakening to the realization that they also really “want” help is the beginning of a change that presents endless possibilities. What an honor it has been and still is to participate in this life-changing event.
Today the addiction treatment industry is faced with a dilemma. CEO’s across the nation tell me there are not enough licensed chemical dependency counselors to fill open positions. Imagine how that is being compounded with numerous new treatment centers opening to meet the demands caused by the opioid epidemic sweeping our nation, and the much less publicized increase in alcoholism and high-risk drinking in society.
I recently saw a news segment on how robots and Artificial Intelligence will affect the future of our workforce, comparing it to the U.S. Industrial Revolution of the 19th century. That is both a sobering and exciting possibility; however, I believe that the human service industry will continue to thrive on a human to human contact. This means a career as an addiction counselor has a solid place in the years to come.
So as the army recruiters say, do you want “the hardest job you’ll ever love” a job that won’t make you financially “rich” and will challenge every ounce of intellect and emotion you possess? But will leave you with rewards beyond imagination. I can personally attest you will never look back over your career and wonder if you made a difference. Our industry needs counselors, answer the call, join our ranks, and reap the rewards.
–Art VanDivier, Executive Director