Tristram Jones PhD,James N. Sells PhD &Mark Rehfuss PhD
Pages 389-408 | Published online: 02 Oct 2009
This descriptive survey, designed to ascertain frequencies of relapse among drug and alcohol counselors recovering from addictions to alcohol and/other drugs studied 657 male, 580 female, and 2 transsexual professionals ranging from 18 to more than 70 years of age. The 20-item instrument was administered online. A total of 1,239 usable responses were received, documenting an overall relapse rate of 37.777%. Discussion of this figure is offered with tables enumerating responses. Outlines for further research are suggested. Conclusions include the assertion that overall relapse rates approaching 38% mandate a reassessment of relapse within the addictions profession itself and the development of policies promoting destigmatization and enlightened intervention among practitioners.
1 thought on “How Wounded the Healers? The Prevalence of Relapse Among Addiction Counselors in Recovery from Alcohol and Other Drugs”
I often wondered how high the relapse rates were among those addicts who went go back to school to become addiction counsellors. I might posit the notion that
Bill W. suggested that alcoholics (or addicts) will not listen to a “paid” twelve stepper. Bill explains in A.A., Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions on page 166, “Alcoholics Anonymous will never have a professional class. We have gained some understanding of the ancient words “Freely ye have received, freely give.” We have discovered that at the point of professionalism, money and spirituality do not mix. Almost no recovery from alcoholism has ever been brought about by the world’s best professionals, whether medical or religious. We do not decry professionalism in other fields, but we accept the sober fact that it does not work for us. Every time we have tried to professionalize our Twelfth Step, the result has been exactly the same: Our single purpose has been defeated (Tradition Five). Alcoholics simply will not listen to a paid twelfth-stepper…The money motive compromises him and everything he says and does for this prospect.”
Page 89 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states: “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail. Remember they are very ill.”
I would posit that the pay aspect of addiction counselling does not provide a spiritual paycheck, just a financial one. My experience with addiction counsellors is that many of them after doing a 8, 10, or 12 hour shift with untreated addicts in detox or treatment do not want to sit down with addicts in an unpaid manner and give unconditionally to those who suffer. I believe this is where the disconnect from the spiritual realm occurs. However, I have witnessed that those counsellors who perform unpaid 12 Step work with addicts who suffer, in addition to their paid addiction counselling—those addicts are still sober.
I would love to hear from other counsellors weigh in on this discussion.