The outstanding article “A Profession in Peril” by Kristin L. Milne-Glasser in the July/August 2007 issue is a must-read for every person working in the treatment field, and for every student attending training courses. It also would behoove every instructor and provider of the certified alcohol and drug counselor (CADC) curriculum to read it.
My company in northern New Jersey has been training CADC candidates for seven years. Several hundred students have completed the course, and approximately 35% have received the certification. There are so many problems in my state that act as barriers for students struggling to finish the requirements and get certified. Several years ago I was able to get intern placements for all students while they were working on the 270-hour curriculum, but this is not the case at present. The three-hour classes to complete 270 hours require getting to class every Tuesday or Wednesday evening 90 consecutive times. The reality of this situation is it usually takes two-plus years to finish the entire process. I completed my master's degree in less than two years.
Plus, there's a requirement of 3,000 hours of hands-on experience. These folks hang in there, making the commitment, and get a job for $13 per hour upon certification. How can we possibly exist as a treatment community if we continue to toss hurdles in the way of progress for the minimal basics of certification? Private practice for treatment of substance abuse and co-occurring diagnoses is so difficult to maintain. It is close to impossible to get paid; most clients are in the throes of financial ruin from their addiction; and we as treatment providers want them to show up for two to four months. Insurance companies do not want to pay for addiction treatment.
I make certain all my students are made aware of the information Milne-Glasser addressed in her article. There is no sense luring people into a field promising something it cannot deliver. People with a calling to work as counselors and therapists are steadfast in their effort to make it better. Let's give them all the tools they need and the encouragement to continue to make changes that will help each and every one of us.
Phyllis Prekopa, LCADC, SAP, CARN-AP, President, Drugcheck Consulting, Hewitt, N.J.