Meeting the unique challenges of individuals ages 18 to 24 having difficulty due to alcohol and other drug use has been Mary Azar’s responsibility since she became Director of the Collegiate Program in 2007. While fighting the disease, these young men and women also are transitioning to a life of adult independence. The program, staffed by Mary and two Case Managers, provides support designed to meet their needs. “I like working with college-age patients because they are our future,” says Mary. “It’s great to watch them come alive and be so excited about their lives.” Recalling her recovery experience, she adds, “I am one of God’s miracles, and I want others to know that recovery is fabulous.”
Talked Her Way into Learning Experience
Mary credits the psychiatrist at the center where she received treatment for helping her decide to become a counselor. She began the process by becoming a Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (CADAC) in 1988 before it became a licensed credential. Internships were not offered at the time, so she “talked her way in” and volunteered at a detox center. Mary hit the ground running. “I had great mentors, but I was also counseling and doing focus groups from day one.” After getting her LCDC and her license in 1990, she worked for several private treatment centers with adults and adolescents, then opened a private practice.
The Road to La Hacienda
Mary, who also holds a master’s degree in Counseling and Educational Psychology from New Mexico State University, moved to Colorado and worked in an intensive outpatient program (IOP) in Denver. Then, in Colorado Springs, she convinced the Mental Health Community Center operators to start an evening IOP which she managed. She was also the clinical director of an adolescent treatment facility in Hawaii before moving to Kerrville to help her parents. “I got bored and needed money, so I applied to La Hacienda in 2005 to be Director of the Adolescent Program.” She accepted the position, but the program closed two years later, and she became Director of the Collegiate Program.
People Get Well and Thrive
Mary says her work experience taught her that “people do get well and thrive.” She enjoys working for La Hacienda because of the team dynamic. “We don’t allow politics and cliques to get in the way of our work. All of us are committed individuals who believe that treatment works.” Working for Director of Clinical Services Janet Blackburn is another plus. “I’ve loved each day I’ve worked with her and learned from her. She epitomizes fairness, open-mindedness, vision, and leadership.”
Show Up and Do the Work
Mary’s work ethic is “show up every day and do the best job I can for the patients and the staff.” Born in Houston and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her father was transferred there by his employer–she has three great sons, one grandson, a cat, and a dog. She likes to cook, garden, play golf, watch movies, read, create stained glass, and travel the world.