By Malaysia Scott
CCC Journalism Program

BLACKWOOD – An alcohol and drug counselor spoke about how to be ethical on the job and what to expect in the profession April 18 at Camden County College.

Amber Monserrate presents an addiction awareness lecture at Camden County College. By Malaysia Scott, CCC Journalism Program

“Treating an addict is different than treating anxiety. Addicts are some of the most resourceful people in the world,” said Amber Monserrate, a CCC addictions professor and licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor.

She warned never to try to manipulate addicts because it’s unethical and it won’t work.

“They have a special type of brain. They can run circles around just about anyone. If you’re trying to be manipulative or run game, if anyone notices, it’s going to be them,” Monserrate said. “Be real, be honest, and they’ll respond better.”

To be an effective counselor, a person needs to be ethical, she stated.

“Ethics is actually a higher standard than the law. You can do something completely legal, but it can be unethical,” Monserrate stated.

Informed consent is one of the most important steps of being an ethical counselor, she said. Informed consent means clients must know everything.

“We have to make sure clients know exactly what they’re signing up for,” Monserrate stated. That ranges from things as small as “where’s the bathroom” to as big as “what if I can’t pay.”

“To be an ethical counselor you want to make sure that you give absolutely all the information you could possibly give to the client about the counseling process,” she said.

Monserrate said it’s important that more workers enter the field.

“We’re seeing people die left and right,” she stated. “This is the reality of what we’re seeing right now, it’s a lot of prescription opioid abuse leading into heroin addiction. We’re losing more people now than ever.”

Maya Alicea, a CCC biology major, agreed more people should enter the field.

“It’s extremely important because of the opioid epidemic,” Alicea said. “It’s so beneficial for people to learn about this stuff because not every person is sane.”

Becoming a certified alcohol and drug counselor in New Jersey requires at least a high school diploma. It also involves much self-reflection, Monserrate said.

“Knowledge of self is a big thing,” she stated. “Respect and appreciate yourselves. How are you going to teach your client to respect themselves, to have good self-esteem, if you don’t have it yourself? We can’t save our clients, we can’t help our clients, we’re not going to be any good to anybody if we’re not good from within ourselves.”

The next lecture in the Addictions Awareness Series, Neuroplascity, will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. May 16. in Room 105 of the Connector Builidng on CCC’s Blackwood campus.