In my experience, too much emphasis has been placed on the experience, and not enough on the education. Too many sponsors who have recovered really have no idea how to help others, but they get instant "street cred" simply because they have been successful in their recovery. Ultimately they alienate their sponsees because they can't connect with them or they can't explain how they achieved their sobriety in any coherent way. There's really no criteria to be a sponsor other than your sobriety. This is a problem. Its also why when my state chose to start licensing individuals, using experience and sobriety time wasn't enough. There had to be education too. And while I understand that you support the mix of education and experience, too much experience and not enough education permeates the recovery communities. So, for every ounce of "discredit" you give me for only being educated, an ounce of "discredit" should be given to those who only have experience. In this regard, experience does not trump education.
But one thing that I also see, is that where I work (in a correctional facility) its actually fairly easy for me to earn the trust of my clients, because, having been in the Criminal Justice system, and having been treated like lesser animals and being barked at and told what to do by those in the system trying to correct them, they are often defeated and worn down, and by simply talking to them like they are normal people and treating them like they have value to me and seeing that I genuinely want to help them succeed in their recovery. They open up to me. Not every one. But most of them. And as I continue to help them and talk to them, they open up even more.
I recently attended a seminar given by a guy who is an "expert" in the addictions field and he purports to have "answers that work" (his words, not mine). He supposedly is a person who consults with governments and local leaders on addiction policies and the like. His education? Zilch. He was a businessman who lost everything to heroin. He spent 3 years in prison, got clean and has been clean for 4 or 5 years (i don't remember how long exactly). His answers were trash. Nothing new came out of his mouth. Same crap you hear from plenty of other people from his kind of life. The thing that made him interesting? He was dynamic and in your face. Essentially he packaged the same stupid stuff you hear elsewhere in an exciting and in your face manner, that apparently is all the rage now. His experience didn't amount to anything. Yet its valued by people like you over education. I don't get that.
I get what you are saying about the "I" statements and it was not my intent to toot my own horn and make it about me. Just doing what I can with what I have to help people recovery and live the best they can.
As far as that being the latest research, its actually been around for a long time. I studied that when I took classes in the early 2000's. More recent research has found that things that are being taught in AA and NA are actually detrimental to recovery instead of helping achieve it. Powerlessness is a bad concept and its one of the fundamental tenets of the 12 steps. Recent research was published that showed that those people who had a stronger belief in the free will of being able to feel they have a choice in whether or not they use drugs were more likely to succeed in their recovery than those who felt they had no control. But in 12 step meetings all over the world, people are being taught that they have a disease and that they are powerless and that if they don't stay in the 12 steps, they are doomed to fail. Maybe that message isn't explicitly stated in their material, but I know its what gets taught in the meetings. I have been to many meetings and have seen it with my own eyes. I hear it from the people who I work with. Its bad stuff. Slowly, therapists and researchers are moving past the disease model of addiction because it doesn't answer a lot of issues that addiction poses. Mainly the behavioral aspect of choice and learned behavior. But, much like in the academic world of Apologetics, speaking out against the established norms of academia is a way to lose funding,and alienate yourself from the main group, the Disease model of addiction is where its at because that is where the money is for research and to speak against that model is to essentially alienate yourself from the accepted norm. Researchers are limited to only study the disease model because thats where the money is. But, I continue to find more articles critiquing the disease model and revealing more and more flaws and other proposed models that explain addiction are becoming more accepted or at least considered.
As far as the "we" programs, if you are referring to AA or NA, there is very little data that supports that it actually works well. Sure it does some good, but how much of that is simply people being motivated to change on their own? 12 step programs are free, and in great supply. Its easy to say it works when there are usually no competing organizations to compare it to. In the bigger cities you will find other groups such as SMART Recovery or other similar programs, but in smaller communities you usually only have one option: 12 step. I regularly hear people complain about meetings because all they ever hear is people griping about their inability to stay clean and how they are always failing. There's no hope in the meetings around here. I suspect that its probably true around the country. I am a big proponent of working with others in recovery, so please don't get me wrong about that. I know that support from peers is very important. So, I do still encourage people to attend meetings despite the issues that exist.
This is a difficult statement to not take as a "slap in the face". I admit that I do have an opinion, as does everyone else in the addictions world. My opinion is but one of many. It feels like you are trying to kick me down a few notches by pointing out that I am but a simple counselor in the field with no substance abuse experience. But you don't know me. You don't know what I teach. Your bitterness towards my lack of experience seems evident here. I suspect that my statement regarding powerlessness in my initial response to you rubbed you wrong, eliciting this type of response. I have an actual degree in Addictions Counseling (not Psychology or Social Work), and about 7 years of actual counseling experience. I have worked with hundreds of people. I read articles, I meet with a clinical supervisor to evaluate my sessions and the stuff I teach. I do change my teachings as I learn errors in my take on subjects. I strive to be the best I can and to give the most relevant information I can. To make the statement that you did is very antagonistic and honestly, feels like you are trying to "put me in my place". I don't need to remind you that experience is subjective and that one person's experience isn't the same as another persons. Simply because you have been successful in stopping substance abuse doesn't make you any more of an expert than me.
It doesn't take more than empathy and education. I do it every day with just those things. I can understand the struggle of making wholesale changes to my life. I purposely made significant changes in my life in order to better understand the things that I ask my clients to do. I understand temptation because I was a Christian for over 30 years and I tried so hard to stop doing stupid sinful stuff over and over and over again without any success, and constantly beat myself up for my failure. I understand the discipline it takes to diet and lose weight and not be lazy and eat whatever I want ( I lost 50 lbs). I understand the battle to get off my butt and go for a run when I want to sit and watch tv or play on my phone. I understand what its like to lose your friends because of a choice to live a different life (leaving my Christian friends behind when I left Christianity is pretty much the same as leaving your using friends behind when getting clean). I understand the pain of losing someone I love, getting laid off, getting into fights with my significant other, being lonely, being depressed, being anxious, being poor and asking for assistance from the local government. My first wife was disabled. I am disabled. I have lived life. I have coped ineffectively and effectively. I make mistakes, I experience success. Its all part of the human experience. I don't need substance abuse experience to understand those things. I have experienced them. Its the same stuff addicts deal with. And on top of all that, I also deal with the Criminal aspects of their behaviors too.
I respect your opinion. I have read your posts. You're a smart person. I appreciate the challenge you present. But I feel like I am in a good place with what I do. I see lives changing, usually in small increments, but over time, those things add up. I love what I do. I love to help people. I dedicated my life and a whole lot of money to do what I do, without the experience of those I work to help. I don't take it lightly. Am I anyone special in the addictions world. No, certainly not. I am probably an average counselor in the grand scheme of it all, with some strengths and some weaknesses. But I do change. I do adapt, and I am capable of being taught. I seek out wise counsel, and I regularly read research papers and articles to keep in the loop as to what is best for my clients. I have my own interpretations of the results as does everyone else. I am also a victim of my own thinking, as is everyone else. I hope you can accept that.