Many of us were taught the dangers of drugs and alcohol in school, and yet we were never told that substance use will happen among the people we will know-- the people we love. We were not readily taught that trauma and pain are often contributors to substance use. We were not educated about the ways that substances alter the physiological reward pathways in the brain, or about the genetic causes behind substance use disorders.
When someone you love changes who they are because of substance use, when a person you used to trust becomes untrustworthy, or when that person’s situation begins to take over your own everyday life, it’s time to see what you, yourself, have the power to change.
When I began my counseling career, I was actually a bit terrified to counsel children. I'm an only child and was nearly the youngest amongst my cousins on both sides. My best friends were also only children, so none of us had younger siblings to interact with. I had lived, worked, paid my bills, put myself though college, and still... tiny people made me nervous.
I delved deeper into studying child psychology in grad school. Soon, I had worked with domestic violence victims for a while, and I did counsel a few kids, but my focus was on adults. Eventually, I moved on to work with adults who had dual diagnoses of addiction and mental illness. My career was on a path to become more marketing and community-outreach-oriented, but I k...