Project Addiction Counselor: How to Create and Sustain a Private Practice [Interview][Transcript]

Scott_Spackey_addiction_recovery_planGuest: Scott Spackey
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Scott A Spackey, CATC, RAS, CHt, CLC—Relationship coach, Family Counselor, Addiction Specialist, Life-Coach, sleep disorder specialist and Clinical Hypnotherapist. 12 years private practice with clients worldwide and three time author including: Project Addiction—The Complete Guide to Using, Abusing and Recovering From Drugs and Behaviors.

Segment overview: Scott Spackey, Certified Addiction Treatment, Private Practice Counselor (CATC) and author of the book: Project Addiction Counselor—How to Create and Sustain a Private Practice, discusses the need for Private Practice Addiction Recovery Treatment, patient benefits, and the importance of healthcare providers understanding all the aspects of drug acquisition (legal and illegal) and use when choosing or implementing a treatment program.

Health Professional Radio – Project Addiction Counselor

Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you for joining us today. Our guest in studio is returning guest Mr. Scott Spackey, Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor and also the author of the book Project Addiction Counselor: How to Create and Sustain a Private Practice and he’s here with us in studio to discuss the need for private practice addiction recovery treatment, the patient benefits of such treatment and the importance of health care providers understanding all the aspects of drug acquisition both legal and illegal and their use when choosing or implementing a treatment program. Welcome to Health Professional Radio today Scott.

Scott Spackey: Thank you for inviting me back.

N: Thank you so much for returning. As the author of Project Addiction Counselor, you are in private practice, have you always been in private practice? Or were you at one time connected to a treatment facility as an addiction counselor?

S: No. I did my intern hours at a facility but beyond the intern hours I’ve been in private practice since Day One. I thought I would go roll the dice and take a shot at it, thinking that worst case scenario I would sign up and go to work, hourly wage for a facility and it went well so I never had to. So I’ve been in private practice from Day One.

N: And how long have you been in private practice?

S: About 13 years now.

N: Thirteen years. So you would say that private practice therapy has been working for your clients, yeah?

S: Absolutely. I have a great reputation, as a matter of fact I found out somewhat recently that a lot of my clients in the community that I was in were referring to me as the ‘cavalry counselor’ – the guy you call to save the day when no one else is able to it so I was kind of pleased with that. I’ve got a real kick out of that.

N: Let’s talk briefly about maybe some attitudes and may possibly clear up some misconceptions. You are in private practice, is that because and you did your internship in a facility, is it because of inadequacies that you found within treatment facility, addiction treatment modalities or is it that you can be a little bit more hands on and maybe offer more customized or personalized treatment when it comes to addiction?

S: Actually that is the motivation because being able to customize and not have to conform to a corporate mentality because once a corporation facility has a certain philosophy or mentality that to continue be consistent with… I respect that but I need the versatility as because we’ll never know who we’re dealing with and what we’re dealing with. It’s really the versatility to be able to really change it up when we need to…and I’ve had to many times be very inventive to say the least, creative to say the least, I have come up with some techniques and some methods …in the moment that most people when they hear about it they think that that’s how did you do that? How did you come up with that? You’re in that moment when you need to, you need to save somebody’s life. So a little bit of both I was a little bit frustrated with what was going on out there and I don’t conform well, I never have hence my past with the drugs and all that. I don’t conform very well and so I absolutely need to kind of do my own thing and lead my own way and as long as this is working then I think that’s a safe thing to do.

N: Now you mentioned in Project Addiction that you’ve been clean for well more than 20 years with the exception of a few as you call them heroin relapse experimentations. What exactly does that mean?

S: Well that’s an awkward question. That means that as I point out in Project Addiction I broke with sobriety to experiment with a few things to be able to write firsthand visceral actual accounts of those drugs. It was risky, it was dangerous and I don’t recommend it. However, as it explains in the book there was a lot of thought, planning and preparation and support that went into that, there’s a lot of that goes into that, so it’s not like I just went out recklessly and just had an episode, nothing like that. It was very calculated and again even as calculated as it was, I never for a moment considered that I was safe and wasn’t at risk. It’s something that I was willing to do for that project so that I could help the people that I was helping. One of the greatest responses that I’ve had as a counselor is that so many people that I’ve helped over the years resonate with me because they’ve known the real deal but I actually stuck a needle in my arms and I’m not basing everything on theory and so I was always able to get out and make people listen to me when most people couldn’t because being a ‘walk the walk and talk the talk,’ both. And so I was willing to put a lot at risk to be able to sacrifice to make this project all concerning everything that it was and I did take that risk and it was risky and I don’t regret it but I wouldn’t do it again. I did it that time, I did it for that book and it’s done.

N: What would you say to the physician or the counselor who’s employed at a treatment center or maybe just a part of a treatment center, volunteering, who knows but what would you say to them when it comes to the importance of them understanding the acquisition and the actual use of these drugs when they’re trying to help someone? I mean you’re just trying to get the person off drugs, is it really that important to understand how this person is going to acquire those drugs and possibly use those drugs in order to be able to help that particular person?

S: I think the more we know about a person and the details and I mean specific details about the drug, the method, the acquirement, what it feels like, their motivation, personal and mental, emotional, spiritual, all of the above – all of that can come into play in a significant way to treat someone. Again we cannot apply some type of generic, excuse me mentality towards someone, it has to be customized and specific to them – who they are, what they are, what they’re doing and the less we know about it and we normally are, the less we can help them, the less they’re eventually they’re gonna look it and think of themselves “Okay, this is all valid and good” but really what I’m talking about. It’s kind of like if a woman who was given birth so as to explaining any detail, what’s like to give birth and I look her and say “Oh yeah, I get it.” o I don’t, well how can you describe it? I absolutely can’t. So again at the very least we get to go our research, we get to talk to people and really get that very wide spectrum of experience where we can know what we’re talking about. This is something that is so sensitive, so delicate, so dangerous of a treatment that people die if they don’t get treated with this properly. And so a lot of it is at risk so we need to take the time to really research and know it well and sometimes we shrug our shoulders and look them straight in the eye and say “I don’t have any experience with that.” But and what I usually follow that with to a person is “But I know about this” and I start sharing, we start sharing stories, we find the common ground, we bond over those things.

N: When you’re talking with someone and you see that this is gonna be a really, really tough, I guess ‘nut to crack’ for lack of a better term. What do you say when you’re talking with other providers, health care providers about their tough cookies? Do you talk about what is the toughest personality to help or is it more what’s the toughest drug or does it depend on the person?

S: It definitely depends on the person and I would say that honestly a drug is an inanimate, unconscious thing. A person is a complex thing and so it’s definitely more about the person than it is the drug itself. I don’t care what drug it is, I don’t have a formula for each and every drug and behavior that’s out there but the people better adapt quick because they’re gonna need eventually they’re gonna meet people every once in a while, sometimes once a week that defy all the things that you thought you knew about people to begin with. And for example recently I’ve picked up my phone when I was taking a walk and I saw a weird number and I answered it. It was a guy from the UK who found my audio book and reached me, he found a way to get in touch with me and he was asking me to please help him, if he can hire me as his counselor and I took that odd job on and it’s one of those cases where you were just kind of pointing out for the first couple of weeks I think to myself ‘This is really frustrating. ’ This is as you say tough nut to crack, this guy is just nothing but problematic, taking a lot of time, it’s frustrating. I’m a professional but of course we’re a human being too, so it’s tiring. Well, what I can tell you about 10 days ago we made a major breakthrough and I can tell you this with absolute confidence, it is unlikely he will ever do drugs again and very likely that if he ever does it’ll be very brief relapse episode and that’s about it, the breakthrough has occurred. And so what I would tell people that are confirmed with some of those things is it’s rather generic, don’t give up. It’s our job, we have a responsibility as the sober guiding force to these fragile people who are desperate and need to be saved from themselves. We have a responsibility to be innovative, to be variable in our thinking and we have to continuously adapt and find new ways to think of an approach.

N: You are the Author of Project Addiction Counselor not Project Cocaine Counselor or Project Alcohol Counselor. You specialize in addiction, do you treat other issues not only substance abuse?

S: There’s an entire, as a matter of fact the big last section of the book in Project Addiction is Behavioral Addictions and we’re not talking just about gambling because that’s the most common one but I deal with shopping, sex, relationships, there’s what I call ‘Parentaholics’, I’ve treated a lot of parentaholics, people that are not good parents as they could be because they’re overdoing it and they don’t know the boundaries and so it works out and it functions in the same principle as an addiction does. And so behavioral addictions stimulate the exact same neurotransmitters as the drug does – dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, etc. – and so they need to treated in similar ways but needed to be customized. So absolutely across the board and again, they are to be treated very differently.

N: And tell our listeners where they can get a copy of Project Addiction Counselor: How to Create and Sustain a Private Practice.

S: All of my books, Project Addictions and Project Addiction Counselor … are available you can first go to the website, there’s also a and also… but Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Baby anywhere that you buy your audio, your eBooks or your print books, anywhere that you buy a book you can type in my name or Project Addiction it’ll come up.

N: Scott Spackey, Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor and also the Author of the book Project Addiction Counselor: How to Create and Sustain a Private Practice. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

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