Dr. Kelly Krueger (Clinical Director) sits down for a question and answer session regarding substance abuse prevention.
Q: How did you become involved in substance abuse prevention?
A: My involvement in substance abuse started from a young age. From the time I became an adolescent, to my young adulthood I was deeply involved with both drugs and alcohol. I was trying to deal with these issues myself for many years until, at 25, I checked into Hazelden treatment center and began to finally sober up. After settling myself at Hazelden, I began aftercare and have been attending regular meetings with Alcoholics Anonymous for over 30 years.
Substance Abuse Prevention
Q: What made you decide to go into psychology?
A: When I finally sobered up I wasn’t working, and realized that I needed to become self-sufficient. I had always been interested in psychology and had studied it earlier. I majored in psychology in junior college and went on to receive my MA from Antioch University and my Psy.D. from the American Behavioral Studies Institute. I decided to work in the field of psychology because I have always been interested in the mind and the unconscious and it also allowed me to pursue counseling and give back.
Q: What aspect of working at Sovereign Health did you enjoy/appreciate the most?
A: The aspect of working at Sovereign I enjoy the most is the ability to see how the clients are able to improve over their time here. When you see a client who is at first completely down and broken and then eventually the light just turns on and you want him or her begin to internalize and understand the things that therapy presents them, this is a great thing to witness. Also being able to be a part of this process, by doing therapy with patients is another great aspect of this job.
Q: What are the most difficult and most rewarding parts of recovery from substance abuse for you?
A: The difficult part of recovery is not being able to rest on your laurels. When you’re in recovery, you can’t just say; “I’m a month sober, that’s great” or just be happy with having been drug free for some years. Each day is a struggle and you have to take each sober day 24 hours at a time. You need to have a daily reprieve based on spiritual maintenance. The most rewarding part is seeing all the people who are proud of you. Seeing your friends and family smile when they see you and hear how you’re doing is just great, and knowing that no matter what, you always have the gift of sobriety to hold on to.
Q: If you could give just a few pieces of advice to those involved in substance abuse prevention, what would you say?
A: To someone who wants to pursue counseling within substance abuse prevention there is one essential point – you need to understand what it means to have suffered with substance abuse. Substance abuse is a complicated and difficult thing to deal with, so understanding where your patients are coming from is crucial. Also to work successfully in this field, you have to have an understanding of your own defects of character and your limitations so you can be aware of when patients try to manipulate you.
To someone who is just starting out in recovery or treatment; take your 12-step groups very seriously. The leaders have been through this before and they do know what they’re doing. Also be open to other forms of help, whether it’s from your family, doctors or others.
To someone who has been in recovery over 5 years; it’s time to get your life on track. Work on your professional life; find a job, a career and what kind of skills you have. If you are still depending on others, gain an understanding of how and why you are and then fix it, you need to become self-sufficient. Also by now, since you’ve gone a while in recovery take a look at your physical health and see what needs improvement.
Q: What is the most effective way to prevent someone from abusing a substance?
A: There are two things that are really important to help prevent substance abuse: education and resources. Education should start as early as possible, even when kids are just starting to read, especially if they are particularly in danger of falling victim to substances. This kind of education should teach kids the dangers of substances and how they can find help for themselves or for others. Related to that, resources as also key in preventing substance abuse, or preventing those who are already abusing from getting worse or hurting others. Making sure that resources are available and accessible for those who need it, as well as making people aware of resources, can help them more easily find those who can help.