Jef­fer­son Ri­bout

Ad­dic­tion coun­sel­lor and case man­ager, Habi­tude Ad­dic­tion Pro­gram and Ri­bout Ad­dic­tion Coun­sel­ing

NOW Magazine - Class Action - - CLASS ACTION | CONTINUING EDUCATION - Com­piled by KEVIN RITCHIE

It’s never too late to switch ca­reers, up­grade your skills or fi­nally find your true vo­ca­tion. Here are eight peo­ple from vastly dif­fer­ent fields who used con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion to help them make a big­ger mark on the world.

I got my first job on my first day at McMaster, af­ter my first class. I was ask­ing a lot of ques­tions and a pro­gram direc­tor of­fered me a job work­ing overnight at a treat­ment cen­tre.

I went to the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa and got a de­gree in crim­i­nol­ogy. Then I at­tended McMaster for con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion, and I have an ad­dic­tion care worker diploma.

My break­through in life came in my early 30s. Peo­ple have al­ways said I’m a good peo­ple person. Ev­ery­body told me to go into sales, but I’d worked a few cor­po­rate jobs and wasn’t ful­filled by that. This is def­i­nitely my vo­ca­tion. I feel very ful­filled in the job I do.

Ini­tially, I wanted to get into law or maybe the RCMP or de­tec­tive work. But af­ter McMaster I be­came a big ad­vo­cate for peo­ple who suf­fer from ad­dic­tion and sub­stance abuse. Even­tu­ally, I plan on get­ting a mas­ter’s and work­ing in pol­icy. That would be my ul­ti­mate goal.

The McMaster pro­gram cov­ered ev­ery ma­jor piece that has to do with ad­dic­tion, from phar­ma­col­ogy to case man­age­ment and cri­sis in­ter­ven­tion. You can take that pro­gram on­line or in person. In my opinion, the key is to take it in person, be­cause of the teach­ers. The links with teach­ers are some of the main re­la­tion­ships I came away with.

I got my first job on my first day at McMaster, af­ter my first class. It was odd how that worked out. A pro­gram direc­tor was there, and I was ask­ing a lot of ques­tions; she ap­proached me at break and of­fered me a job. I started work­ing overnight at a treat­ment cen­tre.

I never thought of start­ing my own pri­vate prac­tice, but af­ter be­ing in that pro­gram and talk­ing to other pro­fes­sion­als who had their own prac­tice, I started my own com­pany.

As part of my ad­dic­tions coun­selling work, I over­see all clients’ treat­ment stays. I put to­gether treat­ment plans, I con­nect with their fam­i­lies and with em­ploy­ers if there are prob­lems with the courts. I make rec­om­men­da­tions and as­sess them through­out their treat­ment stays

This job is tough. You need to be em­pa­thetic. You need to be very bal­anced. There’s an ex­treme amount of stress. You’re deal­ing with very sick peo­ple and cri­sis sit­u­a­tions on a daily ba­sis. You need to be or­ga­nized and have good time man­age­ment.

The worst ex­pe­ri­ence comes when you work with some­one for months and find out they’ve lost their bat­tle with ad­dic­tion and have re­lapsed. I’ve built close re­la­tion­ships with a lot of the peo­ple I work with, and when they re­lapse it is very hard. I’ve been in the field five years, and I’ve been to three or four fu­ner­als. Those are def­i­nitely dev­as­tat­ing.

The best ex­pe­ri­ence is when you get a phone call out of the blue from some­one

thank­ing you for sav­ing their life.

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