Living the sober life, helping others: 'I learned I made the right decision'



Zana Kerr: "I was able to get the help I needed."

Zana Kerr knows much about her chosen field, drug and alcohol counseling, because she’s been on the other side.

“After I got sober and into recovery, I decided that I wanted to make a career change,” said Kerr, a former County parks ranger in Balboa Park for 14 years. “I felt I wasn’t doing enough to help people who needed the kind of help I got.”

Thus motivated, she earned her UC San Diego Extension Professional Certificate in Drug and Alcohol Counseling in 2012.

“It turned out to be life-changing for me,” she said. “I learned I made the right decision to get sober and that I had an aptitude for counseling.”

For the past year, she has served as a recovery counselor for Episcopal Community Services. She counsels clients who have been arrested and, in most cases, convicted of driving under the influence (DUI).

Born and raised in Ireland, Kerr earned a biology degree from University College in Dublin. She moved to San Diego more than 20 years ago, after winning a visa lottery in her native country.

In recent years, bouts with drinking and drug abuse convinced her that she needed to get sober. Through recovery programs offered by AA and other clinics, she got her life under control.

“I was able to get the help I needed, but there are so many people out there who need the kind of help we provide,” she said. “I’m grateful to be in a place where I can do that.”

Amid the emotional turmoil of counseling, she’s also grateful for her outlets: “I have two dogs, I go to the beach, I read, I do whatever I can to get outside and breathe the fresh air.”

Posted: 9/3/2014 12:00:00 AM with 0 comments

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