When I walked in to teach my first “writing for empowerment” class at an inpatient addiction treatment facility, I quickly recognized that I was completely unprepared. Although i had taught hundreds of writing classes to that point, I hadn’t seen the level of intensity that I faced within that particular room. The 90 minute class seemed to last months as I sweated at stuttered through my first class.
I was teaching that class as part of my internship hours when I was first seeking my alcohol and drug counseling license. But the truth was that, while I personally knew addicts and alcoholics, the treatment domain was a whole other animal than anything I’d faced. The suffering and anger and shame were elements of addiction that I hadn’t faced within that capacity. The thing is, everyone has an opinion about Addiction and Addicts, but it really isn’t until those opinions are tested that they demonstrate any real value. I believed then, and still do, albeit differently, that all people have the answers inside themselves for the questions their lives present. But at that first class, none of the clients had any interest in writing or in critically reflecting upon their lives. All they saw was when they looked at themselves was garbage.
Cut scene to one day when I was attending a funeral mass for someone I knew. One of the bible readings struck me: “Behold for I send you out like sheep amidst the wolves, therefore be as cunning as the serpent and as harmless as the dove.” Mathew 10:16
When I heard those words, I recognized myself walking into the treatment facility. I saw how I needed to act and since that day, I have modeled every single encounter with an addict from the perspective of Mathew 10:16. I’ve even named my blog after it….
Therefore, all treatment providers I’ve known are the sheep amidst the wolves because in their best intentions, they do all they can to help guide addicts to the best version of themselves. Their methods may differ, but I know that they seek to do work that no one really wants to do: Heal the seemingly unhealable. We innocently approach those who would tear us apart and we do willingly. Treatment providers are the sheep amidst the wolves….