“So, why work with substance abuse?” – a question asked of me when talking with the Full Life team about coming on board. For me, a big part of the answer was easy: it’s everywhere.
It’s also easy to let that last statement echo and create tiny-but-ever-growing reverberations of fear creep out from the silence. But what if the reality that substance abuse occurs throughout every tax bracket, ethnic group, color, creed, and credential imaginable became a tool for insight? What does it mean that problems with substance use can happen to anyone?
Part of my work as a counselor is rooted in the belief that we all share common pieces of the human experience.
That doesn’t mean everyone’s life is the same, or that we make sense of the same things in the same ways – but just about everyone I’ve ever met has been able to identify with times of struggle, joy, fear, hope, laughter, sadness, stress, or fulfillment.
Having interned at a treatment center in Winston-Salem during my graduate program at Wake Forest, I was able to learn more about the substance-related concerns facing our local, regional (and from a distance, national) communities.
Rarely is substance abuse not influenced by a host of other factors, including trying to escape negative emotions or amplify positive ones, coping with mental health concerns, or even just trying to fit in.
While statistics help us see how wide this particular struggle extends, what they don’t state so obviously is the intense sense of isolation and loneliness that can walk hand-in-hand with substance abuse.
As it turns out, when we peel the layers of stigma and taboo off the subject of “Addiction,” there’s a real live person underneath – a person who hopes, fears; who has insecurities, a history, gifts, and a lot more to offer the world. While the volume of substance abuse might be drowning out these other voices, they’re still there. The same is true for parents, partners, spouses, and those otherwise in relationship with someone struggling with substance abuse.
It’s possible that if you’ve connected with the Full Life blog, you may be more familiar with this experience than most.
In the new movie, Anonymous People, focusing on highlighting the voices of the more than 23 million Americans in long term recovery from addiction, Michael Askew tells his story of seeing the impact that a single persons recovery can have within the community. “Every time you see somebody in recovery getting well, you know that the community is healing; families are healing. It’s like throwing a rock into a water – it has a ripple effect.” This ripple effect is a huge motivating factor for the work we do at Full Life Counseling as the transformation of the human spirit is felt in every aspect of our clients lives.
My job here as a new member of Full Life is to help both those wrestling with substance abuse and their families turn the volume of those other voices back up, while pulling the “fader” down on the substance abuse track. Primarily, I work individually with adolescents, young adults, and families to build understanding, a plan, and a set of tools to start moving toward a desired destination. Much of my counseling is based in Motivational Interviewing, which meets clients where they are, and helps them develop insight that can promote change and new behaviors that are based on the client’s own values and solutions. Other parts of my role here include co-facilitating Parent-to-Parent groups with Ginny, Relapse Prevention groups with both Ginny and Jimmy, and facilitating our upcoming CRAFT Skills Class.
I am excited and grateful to be a part of the team here at Full Life; the experience, strength, and hope of our staff and our clients is inspirational, and in the short time I’ve been on board, I have already been hugely impacted by both.”