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When it comes to recovery, we all want the same thing: family members, counselors and clinicians want the addict to get to and stay in long term recovery. So if we all agree that’s what we want, why does it feel like we’re at war with each other sometimes?

Case in point: about a week ago I replied to a tweet posted by someone I really admire who was referring to what worked with their loved one’s recent sobriety. A clinician replied and rather than congratulating this person for their loved one’s recovery, they remarked that one of the methods used still made them an addict in their eyes. WHAT?!

Now there was no way I could not respond to that, so I said that I was in favor of whatever helps an addict get to recovery and stay there; this is the real world not a case study. Funny, there was no reply from the clinician and therein lies the problem…

Look, rather than being civil in their disagreement, this person chose to be rude and that was completely unnecessary. We all know that addiction isn’t easy and whatever works should be embraced not discounted because there is no one-size-fits-all. I’m going to say something now that may not win me fans in the treatment field but I get so tired of all these clinicians and counselors spouting all these statistics and case work…life goes on after rehab!

It seems that some counselors, not all, seem to discount the family’s insights because they have a degree and we don’t. I’d love to ask some of these counselors and clinicians to have the addict come live with them in their home and try out some of their suggestions they give us and see how they make out. As my friend said “text book is not real life.”

I know the majority of counselors and clinicians mean well, but until you’ve lived with an addict in and out of recovery I’m going to look at you with a bit of a side eye because despite your best intentions you will never truly know how hard it is and how nonsensical some of these suggestions seem. I’m not saying the family knows everything because we obviously don’t, but please don’t just write off what we have to say because you went to school and we didn’t. This is not a competition: you don’t always know our loved ones better than we do because you’ve spent 30 – 180 days with them. In some cases they’re going to tell you exactly what you want to hear to make it through so they can get back out and use!

Believe it or not, sometimes we do know better than you. As a professional you may not be aware of options beyond what you offer, so as my friend put it we end up being “the orchestra conductor and connector to resources.” As a professional you only know what you’ve been taught and a seasoned addict can manipulate you to get whatever result they want.  How can I say this? Because my sister went through multiple, well known programs with well-respected and experienced clinicians for years and fooled every single one of them.

My point in all this is that we all want the same thing right: long term recovery for the addict and by working together as a community, we can ensure this happens by whatever means necessary!

Nadine Herring is the owner of Virtually Nadine, a virtual assistant company that provides online administrative support to addiction specialists and social service organizations. I specialize in working with this undervalued and overworked field to help them deal with the time consuming process of running an organization.

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