Alcohol/Drug Counselor Training at California’s Solano State Prison

I was very fortunate last week to spend 20 hours in prison.  Not to worry I was not incarcerated but rather there to do my part in the 270 hour alcohol/drug counselor training program that is being spearheaded by Options Recovery’s Tom Gorham.  Mr. Gorham is also the President Elect of CAADAC (California Association of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselors) and he is committed to helping a group of 50 inmates at Solano State Prison in Vacaville California to become certified addiction counselors through CAADAC.

I was extremely impressed with the men’s enthusiasm and hunger for the training.  I also found them to deviate significantly from the stereotype of the “typical prisoner mentality.”  These men worked together collaboratively on the experiential components of my training and had great responses and insightful questions throughout the 20 hours of coursework.  I only wish all of my training audiences were as motivated and enthusiastic about learning.

For many of these men this will give real meaning to their lives as they will always be incarcerated.  Once they pass the CAADAC written and oral exams they will be able to start working with other inmates who have alcohol and other drug problems.  Some of them will now have a valuable skill when they are released from prison and will be able to get work as addiction counselors.  They will also have a head-start in breaking through to other chemically dependent criminal offenders to break the addiction cycle.

Many people in prison today—it could be as many as 60-80 percent—are in prison due to alcohol or other drug related legal problems.  One of the main reasons recidivism is so high is also alcohol and other drug related.  Even people who get into recovery behind the bars are at high risk for relapse upon release do to the stressful change of environment and other obstacles placed in their way.  Many long-term incarcerated people are also suffering from Post Incarceration Syndrome (a complex form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and that also leads many of these individuals to fail at re-entry.

I am honored to be a part of this very worthwhile project and will be going back to Solano State Prison for two more training sessions with these men next month.  I look forward to see how much they have learned from some of the other top-notch trainers that Mr. Gorham has pulled together including Terrence Gorski, Stephanie Brown and Roland Williams.  In addition, Mr. Gorham will also be teaching the men as well as meeting with them one-to-one to address any of their problems along the way to full certification.  Thank you Tom for inviting me to be a part of this project.

One of the tools I’m teaching these men is the Gorski-CENAPS® Developmental Model of Recovery. I also include a motivational and hamr reduction approach in the begining with the goal being total abstinence. You can learn more about my views on harm reduction in my article Harm Reduction versus Abstinence for Addiction Recovery that you can download for free on our Ariticles page.

To learn about two skill trainings coming up in Sacramento California designed to teach treatment strategies for people living with chronic pain and coexisting disorders including disorders including addiction please Click Here.


You can learn more about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website If you are living with chronic pain, especially if you’re in recovery or believe you may have a medication or other mental health problem and want to learn how to develop a plan for managing your pain and medication effectively, please go to our Publications page and check out my book the Addiction-Free Pain Management® Recovery Guide: Managing Pain and Medication in Recovery. To purchase this book please Click Here.

To listen to a radio interview I did conducted by Mary Woods for her program One Hour at a Time please Click Here to go to this interview.

To read the latest issue of Chronic Pain Solutions Newsletter please Click here. If you want to sign up for the newsletter, please Click here and input your name and email address. You will then recieve an autoresponse email that you need to reply to in order to finalize enrollment.

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