Did We Just Vote For Conversion Therapy?

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This last week has left me confused, angry, disappointed and outraged by the avoidable amount of trauma that was just created for so many young LGBT children all across this country.  These are the same children that like my generation and the one before mine will feel forced to flee to bigger cities where they are accepted. I am well aware that LGBT people will not be the only group affected by this election. Women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims and many more have or will also be affected. I also stand with them, join them in their causes and am going to do everything I can to advocate for their rights as well.

 

LGBT people are the group that I work with daily, the group I want to speak for here. It is the group that many of my colleagues are deeply concerned about and the group that in the last few years we’ve seen a few of the larger treatment providers aggressively pursue by offering specialized tracks and or pitching their affirmative beliefs.

 

I have been asking myself and also trying to make peace with why someone would vote against the rights of LGBT people. Were people not listening to what that ticket was saying about LBGT people’s rights? Were they not aware of or simply ignoring past efforts by the now second-in-command in repressing LGBT people or did they just simply not care?  I understand that it is not that simple or black and white. However, elections have consequences and this is one has great significance to so many including LGBT people.

 

On election night in NYC, a gay man was beaten and told that he’d lost and he better get use to it.  If this can happen in NYC, I am terrified to think of what will happen in cities where there is far less diversity and protection. Was I too naïve in trusting all of the progress we’d recently made? Will families instead of becoming more accepting and open continue abandoning their gay children? Will kids that seem different continue to be bullied on playgrounds by their peers who feel they now have permission to do so? These newly traumatized children, if lucky, will find their way into therapy offices and some of them will arrive at the doors steps of our treatment centers asking for our help.  I don’t feel I am being dramatic here, I can almost guarantee this. What will we tell them? Anyone who works with our population should start thinking about this.

 

Michelangelo Signorile, author and Queer Voices Editor-at Large at The Huffington Post wrote on Sunday November 13, 2016 in Huff’s Post Queer Voices section: “Mike Pence is perhaps one of the most anti-LGBT evangelical Christian political crusaders to serve in Congress and as governor of a state. Long before he signed the draconian anti-LGBT “religious liberty” law in Indiana last year, he supported “conversion therapy” as a member of Congress, and later, as a columnist and radio host, he gave a speech in which he said that marriage equality would lead to “societal collapse,” and called homosexuality “a choice.” Stopping gays from marrying wasn’t biased, he said, but was rather about compelling “God’s idea.” This guy is part of the team who we elected and who is in charge of the transition team. We should never take our eyes off of him and his dealings. He has yet to come forward and express a change on any of his ideas.

 

It pains me to think about this, but I must and I invite you to also imagine what it must be like to be a 12-year-old who is confused today about their sexuality or gender, who may not have the safety net at home needed to navigate their confusion, who is experiencing an ultra conservative upbringing and for over a year has been listening to the now president-elect say that one of the first things he wants to do is repeal marriage equality. Just recently the now president-elect gave a lukewarm statement that he won’t go after marriage equality. He may not go after marriage equality but his newly appointed conservative judges when seated if strategically prompted could overturn marriage equality. I’ve sat in sadness over this for the last week for myself, for my brother who married his partner of 44 years, for my friends and for the 12-year who like myself at that age will have to duck and dive to feel safe in a world that just took ten steps backwards.

 

I am optimistic about my future because as a 55-year old gay man, I’ve gained strength from some of my life’s greatest difficulties; the AIDS crisis and recovering daily from addiction for the last 23 years are just two. I will continue to be optimistic because life is just sweeter when I am. However, I will also remain vigilant and respond accordingly.

 

Let’s commit to holding a light for that 12-year old, for women, for people of color, for Muslins and anyone who is marginalized by doing everything we can to continue moving progress forward. It may seem impossible at times but I don’t remember anyone saying that it was going to be easy.

 

In Strength and Peace,

 

Manny Rodriguez

Going Home

La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center

Everyone couldn’t help but notice. The day wasn’t what it should have been for Joe. He was getting out of rehab after six long weeks in treatment. It should be a day of excitement and celebration. But it wasn’t. Instead it was a day of in trepidation. As he reunited with his family he couldn’t help but feel anxious. You see, his wife, of twenty five years, is an alcoholic. He gave his wife, Betsy, an embrace but the tension was there in the room. Everyone could feel it. How was Joe going to make sure he didn’t relapse and also handle his home life?

Through the help of his treatment center, Joe had taken the necessary steps in planning for recovery. He found a sponsor in his community, a list of meeting to attend, and a fellowship of men that he can call on for support. He knew these steps were necessary but not sufficient to ensure a successful recovery and stable home life.

You see addiction almost always tears families apart, as those watching their loved one struggle with the disease will bear the emotional scars long after their addiction is under control. What might have been a concern for the addict at one point in time sadly can turn to anger and resentment. It’s a kind of “Look what you’ve done to us” mentality and nobody has to say anything. You can read it immediately. The family goes down the addiction path too, playing their roles.  When anyone is addicted to a drug, including alcohol, there is no room for anything else. It completely takes over the person and the only thing left is the drug. Most families can’t survive this and break apart.

A few months passed as Joe tried to reason with his wife about her drinking. He would take the opportunity to have conversations when she was sober and in a good mood. He tried many of the recommended tactics. For example, admitting that he has given her a hard time in the past, acknowledging her point of view, and trying to stay in conversation as long as he can. But he felt he wasn’t getting anywhere. Betsy just wouldn’t accept her addiction. Betsy withdrew emotionally from Joe and their son, Simon. They became strangers to each other.

Not only that but their son, unsurprisingly, picked up the parents bad habits and started drinking heavily.  Joe found alcohol in his room. He confessed to drinking but in moderation. He said that he and his boyfriend drink socially but that it isn’t a problem for him. Joe was skeptical.  He started seeing the same patterns in his son that his wife displayed, such as neglecting responsibilities and having trouble in relationships. Simon’s relationship with his boyfriend has been rocky for several months now. Also, he noticed that Simon’s work responsibilities were being neglected. Simon would continually leave late for work and when he did leave there was alcohol on this breath.

Joe was under a tremendous amount of pressure. He was trying desperately to save his family while also dealing with his own need to take care of himself. He didn’t know what to do and felt helpless. He knew he had to focus on his own health and well-being before he could help him family. He turned desperately to his support group that he established before leaving treatment. They gave him the understanding and courage to keep going.

Then one day Joe got a call. Simon had been arrested for driving under the influence. Panic, fear, and anger took over Joe’s body. On the way home from the police department, Joe could tell just how shaken up Simon was about his DUI. Joe knew he had to have a heart to heart talk with Simon. Well, this seemed to be the breaking point for Simon. Through tears in his eyes, Simon shared the labors of his addiction. They both opened up to each other about their own struggles. They were able to break through the hurdles of someone that is in denial. Simon even asked his dad if he could help him find treatment. Joe knows it will be important to find a treatment center that is experienced with the LGBT community.

Joe doesn’t know what is going to happen to his marriage but he is happy knowing his son is open to getting treatment. For now, Joe is taking it one step at a time.

Note: The characters in this article are fictitious.

So You Drink and Then Go to Work

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What is alcoholism and how prevalent is it?

ALCOHOLISM IS A SIGNIFICANT PROBLEM IN OUR NATION. Let’s take a closer look. The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence defines alcoholism this way:

“Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychological, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortion in thinking, most notably denial.” 

Alcohol is the single most used AND abused drug in America. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 14 million Americans (1 in every 13 adults) abuse alcohol or are alcoholics. That means in a typical office of 100 people, there are approximately eight people abusing alcohol!

Alcoholism in the Workplace

The impact of alcoholism in the workplace is significant. Numerous studies and reports have been issued on the workplace costs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse, and they report costs that range from $33 billion to $68 billion per year.

If you have a drinking problem what do you do? Do you keep it quiet or come forward?

Your first instinct is to keep it quiet. As the definition suggests, part of the disease is denial. But that denial can and will lead to serious consequences. Once drinking starts negatively impacting your job, it is imperative to come forward.

What are the typical signs that your work in being impacted?

In the workplace, the costs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse manifest themselves in many different ways.

  • First is leave and attendance.  Absenteeism is estimated to be 4 to 8 times greater among alcoholics and alcohol abusers.
  • Next is performance problems such as missed deadlines.
  • Relationships at work can also be affected. Abnormal behavior such as avoiding supervisory contact, especially after lunch is also common.

The Importance of Coming Forward and Getting Treatment

By coming forward you can be protected. Alcoholism is considered a disability under the American Disabilities Act, and therefore is protected against discrimination in the workplace. However, don’t think that means that showing up late, missing a deadline, or crashing the company car in a DUI is okay. Many legal cases have come up when someone commits an act of misconduct and turns around and tries to defend themselves by saying it’s because they’re disabled because of alcoholism. The law is written such that it does not allow people to be able to do that.

In general, the rule is fairly clear: An employer cannot fire an employee for being an alcoholic. However, employees certainly can be let go for drinking on the job, or for otherwise failing to do their jobs or follow workplace rules because of alcohol consumption. Don’t wait until your behavior results in performance problems or misconduct at the workplace. While coming forward is an important first step, it won’t mean anything unless you get help. It’s about getting treatment to rid yourself of the disease.

If you tell your employer that you are an alcoholic and you’d like to go to treatment so you don’t have the problem again, your employer can’t then discriminate against you because you’re an alcoholic.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to openly admit your problem to those in your life. You want to seek support and get treatment. Here at La Fuente, we offer a full service treatment center. Contact us today at 888.903.9898 to learn more.

Sexual Assault Among Men and Drug Addiction

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SEXUAL ASSAULT IS A SUBSTANTIAL PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM IN THE U.S.

  • 2–3% of men in the U.S. report having experienced sexual assault victimization. (1)
    • While this percentage may seem low, it is important to take into account the different segments of the male population. For example, looking at the gay and bisexual community the percentage is higher.
  • In one study the prevalence estimates of lifetime sexual assault victimization ranged from 11.8–54.0% for gay or bisexual men. (1)

When we look at sexual violence, we have to look at it through the lens of trauma.

Here is something that is being forced upon a person; this is not something they did on their own. In general, people are not taught a great deal about COPING STRATEGIES, nor do people spend time teaching children how to get through the tough times in life.

Many victims deal with trauma by using substances.

It is socially acceptable and it works instantly. The other thing is you can always find someone to do it with you. You are not the only person in town who is using drugs as a coping device. From one study we know that:

  • Rape victims are 5.3 times more likely than non-victims to have used prescription drugs non-medically. (2)

Drug use turns to addiction.

It is not surprising that this drug use turns to addiction. There is a lot of SHAME around sexual abuse, especially for men. Without any other social outlet, these victims are left to deal with their trauma on their own. Drugs take away the pain and so, left to one’s own devices, why wouldn’t the victim continue to seek relief through drug use? The problem is compounded for those in the gay and bisexual community. Many times the physical violence stems from hate crimes. Being gay makes them more of a target for sexual assault.

Looking at our youth we are finding mounting evidence that LGB youth are disproportionately the targets of bullying and physical violence, and are at increased risk for substance use. We need effective intervention strategies to help our youth. Without action, we will see these youth likely turn into drug addicted adults.

So what can we do to help this community of victims?

One major challenge is that we don’t know they are victims. Most acts of sexual assault go unreported. We need to change the tides of social acceptance. In the meantime, we typically don’t find out there is a problem until another problem arises; that is, drug addiction.

It is CRITICAL to get these victims into some type of treatment facility for their addiction.

We are a full service treatment facility that specializes in treating the LGBT community.

Call us today at 1.888.903.9898 to find out more about us. Learn more about how we treat addiction for the LGBT community.

Sources:

(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118668/
(2) http://www.wcsap.org/sites/www.wcsap.org/files/uploads/resources_and_pubs/rad/RAD_v8_i1.pdf

The Plight of the LGBT Community in the South

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Living in the South as a LGBT individual has many challenges. Here is the reality of how one gay man handled growing up in the South.

“I learned to counter homophobia with my carrying of a pocket knife I regularly sharpen on a whetstone. I learned also to counter the general melancholy that can pervade the life of a subaltern gay man with the arts.” (1) 

Let’s look more specifically at the nature of these challenges.

Lack of Social Acceptance

First and foremost is a lack of social acceptance. The South has a social climate index score of 55, the lowest regional score in the country.

Insurance Challenges 

Another challenge is insurance. Southern LGBT individuals have the lowest insurance rates in the country, with nearly one in four lacking insurance. Also, the average household income is $11,000 lower for same-sex couples raising children than their different-sex counterparts. (2)

The Anti-LGBT Law in North Carolina

Adding to these challenges, North Carolina just passed an anti-LGBT law. This bill “is a wide-ranging measure that blocks local governments from passing laws protecting LGBT people, requires schools to designate single-sex bathrooms based on ‘biological sex’ and preempts city policies involving wages, benefits and other workplace regulations.” (3)

What does all this mean for the LGBT community?

There is a lack of tolerance for this segment of the population. According to Michaelangelo Signorile, the editor-at-large for the Huffington Post’s Gay Voices section, four of the five worst states for the LGBT community are in the South. They are: Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Louisiana. For these states, as an example, only 32% of people believe in the freedom to marry. (4)

Dealing with Pressure the Wrong Way

The pressure to fit in is great but the resistance is even greater. How is this strong undercurrent of suppression showing up today? We are finding that many LGBT individuals are trying to escape the pressures by drinking themselves blind. This is a significant problem that needs attention. The plight of alcoholism is real for this group.

The long term goal is social and economic parity. One piece of good news is that there is an increased amount of public focus that has begun to shift toward the South and the expansion of acceptance and rights for LGBT people in the region. (2)

Dealing with Pressure the Right Way

In the meantime, resources need to be made available to this population. They need to know there is a better alternative than turning to alcohol. One such resource is treatment centers. La Fuente, for example, specializes in treating LGBT individuals.

You can learn more about our center by calling us at 1.888.903.9898. We can only imagine how strong the pull is to be able to numb the feelings of hurt, discrimination, etc. with the use of alcohol. But without some type of intervention this region of the country could have an added social epidemic – excessive rates of alcoholism among the LGBT community.

Notes:

The Shock of Your Life

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Your 24 year-old son comes home one day and shares, “Mom and Dad, I need help getting into treatment for my drug addiction. Oh, I am also gay and HIV positive.” A wave of shock reverberates throughout your body. You are frozen, speechless, and numb. “Is this really happening?” you think to yourself. You may want to turn and flee. But keep those feet as grounded as you can. Your child has just mustered up a tremendous amount of courage in telling you; remember that. Your child is asking you for help. It’s time to show up, as hard as that may be. It may take you some time to get over the disbelief and that is okay. What do you do next? First and foremost, you make sure your son knows you love him no matter what and that you are here to help. You need to support your son and at the same time take care of yourself.

Taking Care of Yourself 

Your mind may be saying, “How will I EVER handle this?”, while your heart is drowning in emotions. Don’t condemn yourself for the emotions you feel. You may go through something similar to a grieving process with all the accompanying shock, denial, anger, guilt, and sense of loss. You may feel as if you have lost your child, you haven’t. The only thing you have lost is your image of your son and the understanding you thought you had. That loss can be difficult, but the image can, happily, be replaced with a better understanding of your child. Outside resources can be big help during this time. There are many resources available to family members. For example, the Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFFLAG) is here for you.

Supporting Your Child

It’s up to you to learn how to communicate with him about his needs. One piece of good news is that your son is ready to seek treatment. This is a huge step and should not be minimized. Help him research the different treatment options. There are treatment centers that specialize in helping addicts from the LGBT community. Visit the facilities with him. Ask questions. Be his advocate.

Regarding your son’s sexual orientation, you may find acceptance comes easily or you may be struggling with it. Either way it is important to talk to your son about it. Learn what challenges he has been facing. Chances are he has been the victim of discrimination in one form or another. Being HIV positive, your son needs your support more than ever. You should know that you are not alone. There are numerous local and national organizations that can help with medical, psychological, and physical care. Your family will have to learn to adjust to the physical and emotional circumstances of your son’s possible changing health.

One last but important message to take away. It is possible to emerge from this period with a stronger, closer relationship with your child.

Will I Lose My Job for Entering Rehab?

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Addiction can have a detrimental IMPACT on all areas of life, including your work.

Many people lose their jobs since their work performance is negatively impacted by their drug use. Drug addiction can cause you to miss work, arrive late, perform poorly, or cause tension between co-workers.

While keeping your job is a great incentive for overcoming addiction, work can also be a reason that people put off entering rehab and getting the help they need since many people worry that entering treatment will cause them to lose their job.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of a disability or illness.

Under the ADA, drug addiction is a qualified disability. ADA protects those who have been successfully rehabilitated and who are no longer engaged in the illegal use of drugs and those who are currently participating in a rehabilitation program and are no longer engaging in the illegal use of drugs.

ADA will protect your employment status while you participate in treatment, as long as you are drug free.

There are some exceptions to the protection provided under ADA.

  • People that are currently using illegal drugs are not protected.
  • Employers can test for drugs; if you are using drugs, you are not protected.
  • Employers with less than 15 employees are not restricted by ADA.

So, if you need to attend rehab for an addiction, don’t let work get in the way.

Your career is important, but your life is more important, and your boss will understand that. Talk to your boss about taking a leave of absence for rehab.

  • Be open and honest about why you need time off, and tell him how it will help you.
  • If you have sick leave or vacation time, you may be able to use this during rehab in order to receive paychecks to support your family.
  • If your boss resists your leave of absence, respectfully inform them that you are entitled to 12 weeks of leave per year to handle a serious health problem that may prevent you from working under the Family Medical Leave Act.

As you can see there are programs in place that support your decision to seek treatment while still maintaining your job. At the end of the day though, the price of not seeking treatment is much higher than the value of any job.

For more information about treatment options please call us at 888.903.9898. Here at La Fuente, our specialty is inpatient treatment for the LGBT community.

Which is better – Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment?

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Which is better – outpatient or inpatient drug rehab treatment? There is no one answer.

Your needs and the severity of your addiction will help you determine which type of treatment is best for you.

Inpatient facilities differ from outpatient facilities in a number of ways – from costs involved and intensity of treatment to the overall environment and support structure throughout the recovery process. Let’s look at what each treatment has to offer.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient drug rehab offers 24-hour-a-day care that allows you to focus solely on recovering from your addiction and your newfound sobriety. Inpatient treatment often includes at least:

  • Supervised detoxification.
  • Administration of medication, if appropriate.
  • Therapy, group and individual.
  • Programs vary and may include a number of other features ranging from family therapy and life skills training to yoga and meditation.

Benefits of inpatient treatment include:

  • Allows you to get away from your normal environment, which is likely rife with the temptation to use, and focus on your sobriety without distraction.
  • Puts you in a healthy environment with addiction treatment professionals and others who are focusing on recovery.
  • Provides ongoing skills training and education.
  • Is typically associated with higher success rates.

Inpatient rehab is often sought by those with addictions that have been long-standing, addictions to multiple substances and dual diagnosis conditions – or coexisting medical or mental health conditions. It may also be a good option for those who have made previous rehabilitation efforts (either inpatient or outpatient) and have since relapsed.

To learn more about inpatient programs please contact La Fuente at 1.888.903.9898. We offer a comprehensive inpatient program with an emphasis on treating the LGBT community.

Outpatient Treatment

Like inpatient programs, the features of programs will vary amongst outpatient programs. Typically, however, the focus will be on therapy to help you focus on your recovery and sobriety.
The specific types of therapy available in an outpatient setting include the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Motivational incentives
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Multidimensional family therapy

While you may not get the same level of immersive, 24-hour care in outpatient treatment, it does let you:

  • Live at home while getting care.
  • Continue working or going to school.
  • Remain close to a supportive network of friends and family.
  • Learn the skills you need to live a sober life through therapy and education.

Also, because outpatient treatment does not involve all-day care for an extended period, you’ll find that the cost of treatment is often lower. These facilities tend to be better for those with short-term addictions.

Each program will have varying features, therapy types, and price points. It pays to do some research and find the program that is best suited to your own needs.

We, at La Fuente, are available to discuss your particular needs and help you determine the right treatment for you. Please contact us at 1.888.903.9898.

Drug Detox – Necessary but Not Sufficient

Drug Detox – Necessary but Not Sufficient

Drug detox is a necessary first, and potentially life-saving, step in a comprehensive rehabilitation program. The focus of detoxification is physiological healing after long-term drug addiction – first, through stabilization and then through detoxification.

 

What is drug detox?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), after stabilization, the focus of detox is on the processes of the body as it rids itself of the drug of choice and treating the withdrawal symptoms that result. Withdrawal is often characterized by dangerous symptoms ranging from mild anxiety to life threatening delirium tremens (DTs). Professional care and monitoring is essential during the detox stage.

Detox alone may help the patient to stop abusing drugs, but without treatment and aftercare, relapse will soon follow and a return to full-blown addictive behavior is rarely far behind.

It is important to note that detox is not a whole treatment for drug addiction. Because addiction is both psychological and physical in nature, it is imperative that patients undergo psychotherapeutic treatment to address the issues of cravings and changes that were made in the brain by chronic abuse of the drugs. Detox alone may help the patient to stop abusing drugs, but without treatment and aftercare, relapse will soon follow and a return to full-blown addictive behavior is rarely far behind.

Any comprehensive program will have these three main steps: detox, treatment, and aftercare. When evaluating a program you must consider the robustness of all three steps.

Step 1 – Detox

Facilities that are dedicated to the withdrawal from alcohol offer many benefits, including, around the clock monitoring and the administration of helpful drugs. Patients at professional detox facilities are often introduced to recovery groups. Counselors help patients determine the best strategy for continued success once detox is complete.

Step 2 – Treatment

The next step, treatment, is often a stay of varying length at a rehab facility. Despite the devastating personal and societal effects of drug abuse, only a small percentage of those considered to be candidates for treatment actually pursue this course of action. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Survey on Drug Use and Health: “23.5 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009 (9.3 percent of persons aged 12 or older). Of these, only 2.6 million—11.2 percent of those who needed treatment—received it at a specialty facility.” 

The first two steps of recovery, detox and formal treatment, are indispensable – but are only the beginning.

Step 3 – Aftercare

The process of aftercare is where the hard work happens. Upon completion of treatment, the individual should have an increased self-awareness. With the help of counselors, the individual often has an increased awareness of personal strengths and vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities are triggers which may lead to. The following are important aftercare components relating to relapse prevention: learning about your triggers, coping with stressors and cravings, thinking through the outcome of a relapse, and keeping a lapse from turning into a relapse.

Here at La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center, we offer a comprehensive program.

We provide detox and treatment and support aftercare. It’s through this holistic approach that we are able to reach our degree of success with clients. Send us an email or call us (1.888.903.9898) for more information.

Addiction Treatment Professionals are in High Demand

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This article was originally printed in LA Weekly.

According to a 2014 report by Marketdata, there are now more than 14,000 addiction treatment facilities in the U.S. and the recovery “industry” is worth $35 billion annually (and growing).

Two and a half million individuals received treatment for addiction in America last year – not just to drugs or alcohol, but also sex addiction, Internet addiction, nicotine addiction and problem gambling. Additionally, some addiction treatment facilities are diversifying into helping people with eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates 27-percent growth in demand for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors between 2010 and 2020, a prediction driven both by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which mandates that insurance providers cover treatment for mental health issues, and an increase in court-ordered addiction treatment.

Los Angeles is one of the world’s addiction treatment capitals, with Recovery.org listing 119 drug and alcohol addiction recovery centers in the city.

“Los Angeles offers some the best care for treatment addiction in the world and also has the greatest recovery community in the nation,” said Manny Rodriguez, Founder and Executive Director of La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center.

These statistics indicate a wealth of jobs and careers related to addiction treatment, both nationally and locally. But just what types of professionals are needed and how does an individual become qualified to work in this uniquely challenging and rewarding environment?

As well as staffing similar to that of many other businesses (such as accountants, attorneys, human resources professionals etc.), addiction treatment facilities require trained specialists who interact directly with their clients daily.

“A facility such as La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center [requires] psychiatrists and internal medicine doctors certified in addiction medicine, licensed therapists (LMFT [Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist] and LCSW [Licensed Clinical Social Worker]), certified addiction counselors and recovery technicians,” said Rodriguez.

Founded in 2005, La Fuente became a licensed program in 2011, filling a void in high-quality affordable treatment in Hollywood.

“La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center is in the forefront working with LGBT individuals struggling with addiction and has become one of the nation’s leading treatment programs with vast experience applying effective treatment interventions specific to the issues of LGBT individuals,” said Rodriguez. “However, La Fuente welcomes anyone and everyone who wants to change their life.”

People can break into an addiction treatment career at multiple levels, some of which require less than an associate degree, while others will require a master’s degree.

Education and training for addiction careers is plentiful in California. The Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network (ATTC) currently lists 50 schools in the state that offer at least one addiction study program. In Los Angeles County alone these include Cal State Dominguez Hills (Alcohol and Drug Counseling Certificate), Glendale Community College (Specialist in Alcohol and Drug Studies Certificate), Loyola Marymount University (Addiction Counseling Certificate) and UCLA Extension (Alcohol/Drug Abuse Studies Certificate and Alcohol/Drug Counseling Certificate).

“Requirements for academic training vary, depending on the occupational specialty and state licensure/certification requirements,” according to Addictioncareers.org. “At the undergraduate level, students typically receive education in the professional techniques of counseling, along with a disciplined background in the environmental and psychological causes and effects of alcohol and other drug dependence and behavioral addictions.”

While a bachelor’s degree often meets the qualifications for a counseling aide, rehabilitation aide or social services worker, a graduate-level degree in clinical psychology, counseling or social work with an addiction concentration is usually a prerequisite to licensure.

“Alcohol and drug counseling is certified by the State of California and education/training is offered at colleges and universities such as UCLA and LACC,” said Rodriguez. “California has four main levels of certification for drug and alcohol counseling as well as two levels that are trainee level and not required for actual certification and/or licensure.”

In California, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors are required to complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience after earning their degree, which must include at least 1,750 hours of direct counseling. Once licensed, they are required to complete 36 hours of continuing education every two years in order to renew their license.

Drug and alcohol counselors work in a diverse range of settings – not just treatment and rehabilitation centers but also halfway houses and correctional facilities (many offenders are lately receiving treatment-oriented sentences). Such counselors essentially help recovering individuals with life skills and accountability. They are often self-employed, working in private or group practices.

“Recovery coaches and counselors, while extremely valuable, are not currently certified/regulated by the state [of California] and do not carry the same responsibilities of drug and alcohol counselors,” said Rodriguez.

In addition to formal education and, where required, state licensing, working in addiction treatment often requires certain personality traits.

“People with a really good sense of balance in all areas of their lives,” said Rodriquez. “The burn-out rate is very high in drug treatment.”

As well as being rewarded with stimulating careers, addiction treatment professionals can provide hope to both their clients and their client’s families – and even save lives.

“One of the greatest challenges working in a treatment facility is when people resist the needed treatment,” said Rodriguez. “However, this challenge many times becomes the greatest gift, especially when the patient turns a corner in treatment and starts to respond, allowing for the healing necessary to save their life.

“Addiction … is a fatal disease if not treated. Knowing that I can be a part of helping to change the course of someone’s life is a pretty awesome reason to do this work.”

Some recovering addicts transition into working in the treatment field. For these individuals, working in addiction treatment is often much more than just a career move.

“Individuals struggling with addiction prior to entering treatment have spent a lot of their time taking from everyone to feed their habit and unable to hold down a job or finish school,” said Rodriguez. “When they find themselves newly sober, the idea of giving back and helping others … seems like a natural next step.

“This is always great because newly recovering people want to feel useful and productive. I always encourage new people to get a simple job first that can provide routine/accountability and to wait at least two-years before embarking on a career in addiction treatment.”

Recovering individuals can bring a valuable sense of empathy and relatability to addiction therapy and counseling roles.

“Some clients/patients, not all, in treatment can hit a wall if they know the therapist or counselor is not in recovery,” said Rodriguez. “A therapist and or counselor in recovery can form an ‘I’ve been there too’ bond and relationship. This helps to form the alliance and trust needed in the beginning stages.

“However, there are many skilled therapists and counselors not in recovery who can work pass the initial resistance of some clients and do amazing work.”

Demand for passionate and dedicated addiction professionals appears set to swell for years to come.

“The Affordable Care Act has made insurance more affordable and accessible. The expectation is that greater access to treatment will be more available locally and nationally,” said Rodriquez. “Like any other industry, it’s about supply and demand. The demand has always been there, now we have a supply as well.”