Working in the field of drug and alcohol treatment is extremely rewarding. Seeing first hand, individuals change their lives from hopeless, desperate, lonely, and ashamed to becoming productive members of society is something that is not experienced every day in a typical 9-5 office job working for a large corporation. It is truly a privilege to see the light come on in the eyes of individuals who have been told they will never make it, they are not good enough, etc.
An average day working with individuals with substance use disorder is anything but average. Days are unpredictable and do not follow a routine (Even though we try). I have often said, there is not one day working in the field that is the exact same as the other. Time and time again, that statement is proven to be true for me, which keeps me excited about the work I do.
Another aspect of working in this industry is being able to be of service, to guide men and women in their recovery journey, to do what we can to help individuals stay sober just one more day, one day at a time. The capacity of compassion for others I have experienced working with coworkers and friends in this field is incomparable to my experience in any other job. I see individuals who give and give and give on a daily basis. The ability to be generous and help others every day is rewarding in a way that no amount of money could compare. It is an internal reward that nourishes the soul, and for that, I am grateful.
My experience for myself, as well as my conversations with others, has shown that we cannot give what we don’t have. What I mean by that is, if you are not taking care of yourself and your own basic needs, you will not be able to take care of others and their needs. I believe it is common knowledge that the burn out rate in the field of drug and alcohol treatment is high. A wise friend once told me, your job is not responsible for you, YOU are responsible for you. If you are thinking about working in this field, or you already do, it is a necessity that you take care of yourself so that you can be of maximum usefulness to others.
leave work at work – take a lunch break – cook – play with cats – pet a dog – pray – go out in nature – support groups – 12-step meetings – sleep – exercise – take a trip – read a book – learn how to play an instrument – go to a show – play golf – snowboard – solitude – swim – catch up with old friends – go to therapy – laugh – deep breathing exercises – yoga – re-frame situation – meditate – drive – go out to eat – spend time with family – take a nap – journal – and the list goes on