Today, Paul Adams speaks with our Admissions Coordinator, Keith Berger.  Keith has been with Alternatives in Treatment for seventeen years and has done extensive work in helping patients take the necessary steps toward treatment and recovery.

Paul: Keith, how long have you worked at Alternatives?
Keith: I’ve been working at Alternatives since 1994 and feel I have grown up with this organization.  I’m proud of the work we do and have come to think of my co-workers as family.  There are numerous treatment centers in the area, but I have never wanted to work anywhere but Alternatives.

Paul: Was there something in particular that drew you to this field?
Keith: I grew up seeing the damaging effects of alcoholism and addiction all around me and came to think of this as “normal”.  I’ve since come to find that “normal” is just a setting on a washing machine and that the disease of addiction is anything but “normal”.  I gravitated toward this field because treatment offers a way out of the darkness of addiction, a solution to what may appear to be an impossible problem and proven strategies for coping with this disease.

Paul: What do you find to be some of the more challenging aspects of your work?
Keith: As the person who is responsible for handling the majority of incoming calls from prospective patients and their families, I see each call as an opportunity to help someone who’s struggling with a potentially lethal disease.  Every call is like a newly-opened jigsaw puzzle box – my challenge is to sort out the pieces and see how they fit together to create an initial plan of action that would include a clinical assessment and possible referral to a detoxification facility when indicated.  Many times, I find my initial role is to educate the caller as to what treatment is and what steps to take to begin the addiction treatment process.  It can be challenging to get information through to individuals who may be intoxicated or otherwise altered, so I need to remember that I may be “talking to the bottle” and have to find creative ways to get the information across.  It’s equally challenging when dealing with families of potential patients, as their denial can often be difficult to pierce.

Paul: The more rewarding?
Keith: What’s become the most rewarding part of my job would be the words of gratitude and renewed hope expressed to me by family members as their addicted loved ones start down a path of recovery.  Often, by the time they reach us, families struggling with the disease of addiction – and it truly is a family disease – have lost hope and can only see the potential for continued negative outcomes.  When families ask to meet me in person, I’m always left feeling grateful and humbled at having had the opportunity to play some small role in helping their families recover.

Paul: What would a really good day at the office look like?  Can you give us an idea of how you’d know it’s been a good day?
Keith: Treatment isn’t like retail where you can tell a good day by tallying the register receipts at the close of business.  For the facility, I think a good day can be measured by the progress we see in our patients.  For me, a good day at work is when I go home with the feeling that I’ve helped someone find a little bit of hope.

Click here for “Behind the Scenes with Keith Berger (Part 2).”