The Journey Through Recovery

By Dr. Esther Metzger, NCC, LPC, of CareNet East

I actually stumbled into the field of substance abuse while my husband and I were living in Nashville, Tennessee.  I began working at a local community mental health agency in East Nashville in order to begin my process toward getting licensed as a professional counselor.  I worked with severely and persistently mentally ill adults, many of whom were dually diagnosed with substance abuse issues.  This was certainly unchartered territory for me, and I recall feeling very uncomfortable and ill-equipped to take on such a daunting task.  Up until that point in my life, I had not even known anyone who had struggled with substance abuse.  However, as with so many things in my life, I decided to tackle it full force and learn through hands-on experience.

I remember the first intensive outpatient treatment group that I led.  I was quite anxious and though I had prepared the material to be presented, my thoughts were focused on whether or not I would perform well and successfully present the learning objectives without making any major mistakes.  As the session began, I was taken aback by the level of openness and honesty that people in the group expressed.  They lacked defensiveness and pretense and were able to articulate clearly and poignantly their struggles.  They all came from a large spectrum of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, but they all seemed to find common ground with their addiction.  It was at that point that I felt a deep sense of connection, and my focus shifted from myself to each of the group members.

I’ve also had my fair share of experiences with those in active addiction who were not ready or willing to make a change.  But through both my positive and more challenging experiences, I’ve learned that working in this field requires meeting people where they are at (whether it’s a place  I’d like them to be, or not!) and doing my best to help motivate them toward moving closer to changes that will benefit them, as well as those who care about them.

Over the past ten years, I’ve had the privilege of seeing countless people experience the unmistakable joy and peace that ultimately comes with recovery.  And, I’m confident that many more can experience long-term recovery if given the opportunity to get the support they need.  The substance abuse outpatient treatment group through CareNet is a unique resource for those in our community struggling with substance addiction, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to provide this valuable service.

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