The Student’s Perspective by Judy Redman, Phd

addiction recovery student judy redman step 12 magazine

I still love my recovery and I am grateful that I haven’t for a moment forgotten that I owe my life to it! I am convinced that had I not learned the importance of being of service early in recovery that I would not have been able to stay clean and sober.  After eighteen years of recovery I am so blessed to be able to work at a job where I truly feel as if I am being of service to the Addiction Community. My job allows me the privilege to teach amazing people to become professionals in the field of addiction. Not only do I get to watch their transformation from student to professional, but I get to see and hear the stories of what they do once they graduate and become Substance Use Disorder Counselors. Having taught for fourteen years at InterCoast Colleges, you can imagine the accumulation of stories I’ve been blessed to hear on the topic of “Being of Service.”

I wish everyone had the opportunity to witness the faces of those students who come to me from their clinical sites ecstatic because they were able to effectively intervene and block an ATA or AMA (a patient leaving against treatment or medical advice). I look at their eyes, bright with excitement, as they tell the story of how they were able to say just the right thing, at the right time, to keep a patient from leaving treatment. The excitement that they display because they were able to “be of service” to another human being is joyful to watch.

Substance Use Disorder Counselors do what they do because they want to be of service. Many times students will come into the profession with the ideology that they want to give back because of what someone has done to help them.  They want to help, and help they do. This week, one of my students wrote about their experience on a detox ward of the hospital. The compassion that this student was able to provide literally kept a patient from leaving. The patient was miserable, but my student remained kind and showed the patient compassion. To me working on the detox ward is analogous to working on a burn unit; the difference is the burns of the addict are on the inside. It takes a great level of compassion to be there.

So I ask my beautiful bright young students to help me write this article for Step 12 Magazine because I wanted to see what “service” looked like from their perspective. Of course their incredible collective minds once again delighted me. Service said one is “The Sun shining on the Earth never asking for anything in return.” Several of them said if they could just help one person their education would have been worth it. It was in collective agreement that their educational endeavors and goals were because they wanted to help people.

The picture attached to this article was drawn by Marco, a student at the West Covina Campus. This was his contribution to the article and his way of being of service. I include it here because there are many ways to be of service. Sometimes creating something and presenting it to an attended audience is a great service. Other times the simple act of listening to someone who needs to be heard is the greatest gift of service that anyone can give.  Being of service has many definitions and an extraordinary amount of intended goals.

Some of the agreed upon definitions of “Being of Service” from the student’s perspective included:

Being of service is a shortcut to happiness.
A life of service is a life filled with purpose.
No effort to make conditions better for any form of life goes without reward.
Acts of compassion are acts of being of service.
Being of service understands that there is no piece of trash too small that it cannot be picked up and placed in the proper receptacle.

I would like to thank the InterCoast College AOD Counseling Studies Students at the West Covina Campus for the collaborative effort, and for being of service writing this article. A special thank you goes to Marco for his heartfelt artwork.

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