Search for Addiction Treatment Centers Near You Forums Alcohol Abuse The Joys of doing my work, and the bad part

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    Disclaimer: Any names or originating countries that I mention have been changed to protect the identities of the person.

    Since struggling with my own addiction issues more then 10 years ago I have worked many different jobs around the world, some have been OK jobs and some paid VERY well. None however gave me a sense of purpose in my life before. I always went to work each day and tried to do the best I could and have always been a person that did more then was expected of me. I did great at some positions and not so good at others.

    A while back however I took on a new job at a residential drug and alcohol rehab in Thailand. Mostly I do the intakes; I am the first point of contact for most people. Generally my phone rings and almost always I get a question like “I was calling to get more information about the rehab.” It is actually a very difficult starting point for most conversations since they have probably already read the website and should know a great deal about the facilities, treatment, etc. One thing is always common though the person I am talking to is scared, confused, and sometimes stoned. They are always however worried about themselves or a family member.

    Gently I have to reassure them that anything spoken about stays between us. I won’t even ask for their last name if they are uncomfortable giving it.

    Next I have to move the conversation around to what they are using, how much, how long, affects on them and family, have they ever been to a treatment facility before. Half the time I am speaking to a loved one and not the client themselves. As most of you know the family of an addict needs as much and sometimes more support then the addict themselves. Sometimes I get wives and mothers calling whose husband or child will probably never come to the center but they just want a caring person to listen to them while they talk it out. Other times it is an urgent situation and I have to organize an intervention or intake on incredibly short notice.

    For instance a little while back a lady called me at 10 am on a Saturday about her husbands drinking and oxycodone use. After a few minutes I was able to talk her into putting him on the phone. A very heart wrenching conversation and we were off, his wife was booking a flight for him from “Hong Kong” and I was arranging his intake and pick up at the airport. He was in the center 6 hours after calling me. I picked him up at the airport personally, and during the 3 hour drive to the center he told me many things about his life, his hopes, and what he has lost. Also what he hopes to regain, his family.

    Other times it takes months. I had a sister of an alcoholic call me from Germany, about her brother in the hospital in Singapore for alcohol poisoning, he is a very high profile person and can’t afford the effects on his reputation of anyone hearing about his problem. After he was released for the hospital he was straight back at it. 2 months later I get another call from the sister again, his is back in the hospital and can we come talk to him. 36 hours later one of our therapists was met by the family at the airport and taken to meet the man, back in his apartment, by this point. 2 days after that the gentleman was on the plane with the therapist and heading for the center. I met him the other day and found him to be a wonderful, intelligent, and cultured gentleman that I really enjoy talking with and well on his way to an alcohol free life.

    If someone signs disclosure documents I am allowed to speak to the family, and generally they call after the person has been admitted. The first bonus for me, the family is incredibly relieved that their loved one is somewhere safe. Don’t ever discount the benefit of 28 days on the family that now knows that at least for the next four weeks they can sleep well without the constant terror of a phone call from who knows where.

    The main underlying and common part of this is everyone comes in scared, worried, confused. They are scared of their detox, scared of their life after drugs or alcohol, scared of the program, just generally scared of everything mostly the unknown.

    After 28 days when I see them, firstly they look 10 years younger generally, they are hopeful, excited, and believe they can now get on with their life the way it should be. They are of course still a little scared about returning to society without the crutch of drugs or alcohol but by this time they have a plan, they have already worked out how to implement it, know where to turn in times of stress, how to avoid risky situations, etc.

    The greatest reward I ever receive is when a husband, wife, mother, father, son or daughter of an addict comes up, shakes my hand or hugs me and says “Thank you for giving John / Jane back” I always tell them their loved one is the one responsible and it’s them they should be proud of, but I still can’t help having a bit of pride myself looking at the family leaving happy and hopeful, sometimes for the first time in years.

    Some days however when I hate my job, when I talk to someone in need, usually the family member of an addict and there is no way for me to get them into treatment. I keep a large database of rehab centers, therapists, AA #’s, etc. so I can always have some help to offer a person. Sometimes though you just can’t help a person know matter how hard you try.

    I have to try not to let the ones I can’t help get to me. By remembering the people I have helped, the looks on their faces as they are returning to their life, happy, hopeful, and excited. Knowing I had a small part to do with it.

    So as some of you will know I don’t strictly believe in the 12-step philosophy towards drug and alcohol addiction, I think I understand why some people stay with it for so many years, they may need the support for themselves of course. But you might also be more like me then you think, and a little addicted to that look on someones face who is new to sobriety , and hopeful for the first time in years.

    Nothing to me is more fulfilling then that look someone has on their face as they shake my hand a leave the center.

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