Congratulations to Le’Roy Smith Jr.! He passed the NAADAC National Certified Addictions Counselor, Level I Exam, which will now allow him to apply for the certification for Substance Use Disorder Professional and drop the “Trainee” designation on his title. This marks a major milestone in his career!
I asked Le’Roy about the challenges and opportunities he’s experienced as he has pursued this career path, and he was happy to share…
Le’Roy’s journey began when he sought treatment to overcome a personal history of substance use. After some time in recovery, he needed to make a career change due to a spinal injury. Several people encouraged him to become a drug and alcohol counselor, eventually convincing him that he would be good at it.
“I re-enrolled at Olympic College in 2015 and took the courses I needed to complete to become an SUDPT,” Le’Roy told me. “I completed my practicum at Agape Unlimited, where I only barely touched the surface of being an SUDPT.” When he completed college in 2018 with a GPA that earned him a place on the Deans’ Scholar List, he was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
Le’Roy left college with a Certificate of Proficiency in Chemical Dependency Professional and Certificate of Recognition in Human Services-Case Aide. With no real hands-on counseling experience or SUDPT credentials, he volunteered three days a week at Kitsap Recovery Center under Ken Wilson and Bergen Starke. At that time, he was also working a full-time job.
Shortly after that, Ken left KRC for West Sound Treatment Center, which at the time only had one office in Port Orchard. Le’Roy received his SUDPT credentials and went to work for Ken at WSTC’s new office in Poulsbo.
“I was grateful to Ken Wilson for giving me a chance to put my credentials and hard work to work. After some time with WSTC in Poulsbo, I moved on to work as a MAT counselor at Therapeutic Health Services in Seattle, and then to Evergreen Treatment Center, a private treatment facility, as a recovery counselor in Seattle. After COVID hit, Evergreen closed, and I was out of a job.”
Le’Roy felt called to help the suffering people in his own community, so when Ken gave him the opportunity to return to WSTC, this time in Bremerton, he took the job, even though he’d been preparing to begin work at a medical treatment facility in Seattle.
When I asked Le’Roy about challenges, he said that preparing for the certification exam has been one of the biggest because he has had so many things to juggle. Test prep had to be added to the responsibilities of work, supervision hours, and trainings without sacrificing his personal life and the self-care that are so important for his own recovery journey. He was also worried about the cost of the exam, but he appealed to the WSTC Board of Directors, and they were happy to invest in Le’Roy’s career by covering some of that expense. At WSTC, Le’Roy is a valued team member well-known for his compassion, his willingness to listen, and his strong work ethic.
“My journey in this field has been long and hard, and there is still a lot that I need to learn and am learning. It’s never easy when there’s a chance that the people you’re trying to help might not want it, might return to their addiction after successfully completing treatment, or might even die from returning to their addiction.”
Le’Roy gives credit to a number of people for their support on this journey, including his wife, other professionals in the field, co-workers, and some of his college professors, who continued to encourage him after he graduated.
It’s common for people to need more than one attempt on a test of this level of complexity, but Le’Roy did not: “I am proud to say that after taking the test one time, I passed.” We’re proud of his accomplishment, too! Now, he just has to wait for the Department of Health to adjust his status in the system to obtain his full certification as Substance Use Disorder Professional.
Le’Roy has recently accepted the position of WSTC’s Assistant Drug Court Coordinator, and he serves as one of the SUD treatment partners of the Kitsap County Drug Court program. (You can learn more about that program here.)
Congratulations, Le’Roy, and thank you for being part of the WSTC team!