Professionals, Info & Help

Challenges for the Recovered Who Become Recovery StaffPremium Content

Note: Even though this was written for rescue missions, it is of value to anyone working in the recovery field.

Rescue missions hire many program graduates and others who have overcome addictions or have grown up in troubled families. They can be excellent examples for mission clients and usually have special compassion and understanding for those who are still hurting. On the other hand, some are hindered in their efforts to minister to others because of their own codependency . Here are a few common symptoms experienced by these "wounded warriors":

Inability to detach.

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Helping Addicts Who Are Mentally IllPremium Content

How can we help the addict who is also mentally ill?

A. Understanding "Dual Diagnosis" -- Up to one-third of today's homeless adults are mentally ill. The trend toward "deinstitutionalization" of the mentally ill has meant that our city streets are now being flooded with people who at one time would have been hospitalized for their problems. As many as half of them are also addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. Many are "self-medicating" -- using addictive substances to cope with their mental problems. Social service professionals usually do not like working with these "dually diagnosed" people because they can be so demanding and time-consuming. They can be too destructive and troubled for the typical addiction recovery program. And, mental health workers shy away from them because they often do not stay sober long enough for treatments to be effective. So, they end up at the rescue mission.

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Symptoms of Alcohol DependencePremium Content

Alcohol dependence, sometimes referred to as alcoholism , is the most severe type of alcohol problem and is characterized by three of seven symptoms experienced during a one year time period. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, the symptoms of alcohol dependence include:

Symptoms of Alcohol Dependence

    Neglect of other Activities: Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use

    Excessive Use: Alcohol is consumed in larger amounts over a longer period than intended

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Involving Mission Recovery Participants in ChurchPremium Content

Note: Even though this was written for rescue missions, it is of value to anyone working in the recovery field.

Over twenty years ago, Rev. Maurice Vanderberg, Executive Director of City Union Mission in Kansas City, hung the purpose of their new Christian Life Program on their chapel wall. It is a statement that should describe the intent of all rescue mission recovery programs:

    "Our goal is to see every man becomes a mature, contributing member of a Christian community."

People become homeless because they are disconnected from meaningful relationships with others. They don't know how to access social support systems. And, for most, their trust level is at about zero. As they complete our residential recovery programs, we must assist them to become "plugged-in" to places where they will experience the support, nurture, and encouragement they need to grow in faith and in sobriety.

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When is a Client Truly Ready to Move On?Premium Content

I am convinced that our goal in any recovery program is to "work ourselves out of a job." Or to say it another way, we ought always to be helping program people to become stable and growing believers who can experience God's power and guidance for themselves. This is the exact opposite "missionizing people" -- the rescue mission version of institutionalization. I am referring to the problem of teaching people how to live in the confines of the mission, but not equipping them for life outside. This is usually the case when program people seem to doing fine but end up crashing and burning a day after they leave the program.

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Hallmarks of a Healthy Support GroupPremium Content

Simply stated, a support group is a regular meeting of individuals who have joined together to offer one another support and encouragement in order to overcome a shared problem. In informal, small group settings, participants, in turn, share their own experiences, feelings and struggles

Ideally, a good support group is, first, a place where recovering addicts will find true acceptance and a sense of what unconditional love is all about. It is a safe, non-judgmental setting where they can express struggles, thoughts, ideas, and feelings without fear of rejection. Hearing the stories of others with similar difficulties and how they overcame them, gives the struggling addict great encouragement to go on in a life of sobriety.

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Support Groups in the ChurchPremium Content

How do "support groups" help church members who are struggling with addiction and other life issues?

    A. "Support groups" are not a new idea for the Church -- John Wesley's "Rules for Small Groups," written in 1816, is an outline that embodies "the Method" from which the name "Methodist" came. This method resulted in one of the greatest revivals the world has ever known. Believers gathered together in small groups, sharing honestly, becoming accountable to one another, asking probing questions, praying for one another with a deep knowledge of their mutual needs and struggles. Any believer can benefit from this type of gathering. It can be a tremendously healing and encouraging experience for those in recovery.

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Employment Laws in Work ProgramsPremium Content

I am often asked about what needs to be done in order to comply with state and federal laws when recovery programs clients do actual work in the facility. In all cases, I suggest that an employment attorney or tax professional familiar with the laws in your state be consulted in these matters. However, here are a few suggestions that can be taken to help you comply with laws regarding the payment of the minimum wage for recovery program participants.

A. The work must be therapeutic – Too often, the lines have been blurred between mission employees and clients (beneficiaries). The most effective means of clarifying these lines is having a well-documented recovery program in place that uses a written recovery plan that lists the work performed by the client as being rehabilitative in nature. There is no problem in giving some stipend to program participants who perform work as part of their recovery program. If this is done, it is important to avoid the use of the terms "staff" and "wages" or any other terminology that could imply an employee/employer relationship. Instead, call this stipend a "sustenance allowance" or "gift." In the initial intake session, clients should sign an agreement indicating that they understand that some hours of work will be a part of their recovery program, but that this is a part of their rehabilitation and not establishing an employee/employer relationship for which they will receive wages.

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Professional Distance in Addiction CounselingPremium Content

Sooner or later, every counselor will face the fact that he or she is not able to help everyone who becomes involved with their program. Recovery programs can have a very high turnover rate among their residents. Among rescue mission workers, some have reacted to this situation by becoming discouraged, "burned out," or even skeptical about the chances of any homeless addict "making it."

Why Professional Distance is Needed
Often, when people first hear the term "professional distance", they think it means are to be cold, unloving and uninvolved with those we counsel. Actually, it is just the opposite! Over involvement on an emotional level causes counselors to lose their objectivity. They cannot exercise proper judgment in their dealings with those with whom they are seeking to help. Instead, counselors can practice favoritism toward some residents and even end up feeling rejected by them when they don't respond favorably to their attempts to help them.Mostly, a lack of professional distance is manifested when workers have an improper sense of responsibility for the actions and decisions of their clients. And, it is important to remember that, since so many of those we work with at rescue missions have a background of addiction and codependency, they know how to make others feel guilty about not "taking care of them."Mission workers must be committed to being part of the solution and not a part of the problem. Their own unresolved issues will inevitably hinder their ability to minister effectively to others.

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Free Addiction Treatment is Available

Many people do not know what options are available to them when seeking addiction recovery treatment free of cost.

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Free Addiction Treatment is Available
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