From real estate to substance abuse counseling: 'This is something I was always meant to do'

Lou Binford: "Getting through the first year is always the biggest challenge."

Lou Binford spent more than 25 years in real estate sales, successfully.

Three years ago, he decided it was time to change careers, to try something different.

Now he’s an alcohol and drug counselor, specializing in juvenile recovery, at Vista Hill in Kearny Mesa.

Sober for the past 33 years, Binford completed UC San Diego Extension’s Professional Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling — 11 courses in all — earlier this year.

“It’s a great feeling to help anyone recover their life, no matter what their age, but especially young people,” he said. “It’s a matter of developing coping skills, building self-esteem and forming a positive attitude about who you are.”

Clearly, addiction knows no age barriers. And recovery is never guaranteed.

“Getting through the first year is always the biggest challenge,” said Binford. “We have the most success with clients who stay sober for more than a year. Once you plant the seeds of recovery, you try to convince them they have other options.”

Binford finds curious similarities between his previous and current roles.

“You’d be surprised how much alike they are,” he said. “In real estate sales, you try to get clients to talk about themselves and what they want from their lives. You’re always problem-solving. Same with the process of recovery.”

Binford, who has lived in San Diego for 23 years, gratefully reflects back on his sales career as being a source of prosperity for him and his family.

But his current role is much more: "This is my calling, something I was always meant to do,” he said. “Addiction has the power to destroy lives. And recovery has the power to rebuild them.”

Posted: 9/17/2014 12:00:00 AM with 0 comments

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