Today’s guest blogger is MTES staff member David Aguiluz, and he shares a unique perspective as both a recovering addict and an addiction therapist. 

Speaking about addictions is a complex topic. It’s not a topic that focuses solely on drug use. Instead, it focuses on “the compulsive use, abuse, or obsession with an activity, relationship, or substance in which biological, genetic, psychological, and social factors converge.” This is the way the World Health Organization (WHO) defines addiction.  I want to take a moment to focus on two of these factors…not because they are the most important but because they are the ones on which I focus my professional work everyday: the psychological and social factors of addictions.  These are where we focus our interventions in order to provide rehabilitation from and prevention of compulsive drug use for our clients.

The majority of clients that we serve each day at Mission To El Salvador share a close relationship with drug use. Each of them has a history behind their addiction, a story that can be summarized with phrases like “few opportunities to survive”, ”extreme poverty”, “victims of domestic, community, or psychological violence”, “abandonment” , and “isolation” among others. The compulsive use of drugs is an escape from their reality. As an addiction therapist and a recovering addict myself, I can attest to this.

My experience as a recovering addict has allowed me to take a direct approach with the clients and residents of the programs at MTES. My approach has been one of understanding and empathy toward the suffering and pain they have experienced due to their need to use their favorite drug on a daily basis.

David reflecting on the mural in the Lighthouse Resource Center and his own journey.

In the New Dawn Residential Program for kids and teenagers, just like in the Lighthouse Resource Center, my interventions are for both groups and individuals, through workshops on addictions and one-on-one sessions. Each of these sessions is focused on visualizing the need for change and leaving the addictive substance behind.

Above all, I want individuals to understand the emotional, psychological, and social factors that led them to become dependent on a substance. Through these interventions, we seek to lead them to recovery, not only by leaving the substance behind, but by giving them back the opportunity to build a new future. We want to see them have a good job, continue in their studies, connect with their families, and strengthen their emotional ties so that they can rebuild themselves from the inside out. In this way, psychological and social factors are addressed.

We also don’t want to neglect the most important factor in our interventions, the spiritual part, so that they can know a God that allows them to trust and depend totally on Him through their process, and know of His goodness and love to dignify their lives.

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