Walk Down Misery Street


The toxicology test brings ambiguity to the work of the substance abuse counselor as well. Imagine—you just have spent a session with a patient talking about serious, important matters, for example, his family troubles. You have the impression that there is mutual understanding and trust. After everything, while thanking him for his openness and shaking his hand, you give him a plastic cup: “Pee-pee time, my friend.”

Only then in the bathroom is it finally revealed if the patient was actually sincere in allowing you to enter his inner world, or he was stringing you along and messing with your head.

The patient—this sphinx with pensive, honest-looking eyes—poses a complicated riddle to the counselor. Every time, the counselor awaits the answer, not only from the patient but also from the plastic test stick. Will the narrow red stripe appear on the plastic stick? Until the stick is in the cup and the chemical reaction is processed, the individual is subject to doubt.

Just think for a moment: Nobody believes a man until they dip the plastic stick into the cup he just peed in. How humiliating!




So much water has passed under the bridge since I entered the substance abuse field! I came in as a casual passerby, never imagining the journey on which I was embarking. Could I have known at the time that I was choosing much more than just a profession?

I passed the state exam and finally got the substance abuse counselor certificate, which widens the circle of my professional opportunities. I moved to Bronx, near Riverdale, and rented there a nice one-bedroom apartment. I was dating a woman named Victoria who had recently graduated from college and worked as an office manager.