Stacey Dudley gains skills, empathy in UW’s Substance Abuse Certificate Program

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Dudley: ‘I have been transformed into a better professional.’
Stacey Dudley had seen a lot in 14 years of working with people who abuse drugs and alcohol. She provided services to families in their homes, and she experienced her share of frustrations with parents who suffered relapses. It took the UW-Madison’s Substance Abuse Certificate Program to give her a new perspective on her job.
“Since taking this class and learning about the brain science behind addiction and recovery,” Dudley says, “I have been transformed into a better professional.”
The Substance Abuse Certificate Program is geared toward counselors, nurses, school personnel, clergy, psychologists, and others who treat people with substance-abuse disorders. In a series of six one-day courses, it offers research-based information about substance abuse, as well as techniques for working with substance-abusers and their families.
“After the first two classes I took, I came back to work feeling refueled, excited, and ready to educate my peers as well as the families I served,” Dudley says.
A brain makeover
Dudley’s newfound knowledge was especially useful in her work with two young parents and their baby son. The mother kicked drugs during her pregnancy, while the father tried and relapsed. Dudley had trouble empathizing with the father’s struggles until she began the Substance Abuse Certificate Program.
“I learned about all the ways the brain is affected by drugs, and a light bulb turned on,” she says. “Understanding brain chemistry allowed me to see that drug use is far more than a bad choice. I have all too often looked at addicts with a blaming attitude, like it’s their fault. What I have learned is that they have a disease and are in need of a brain makeover. This will take time and a series of behaviors that allow the brain to rewire and heal.”
After her classes, Dudley felt better able to provide support for the struggling family.
“I have offered suggestions for this dad if he decides to seek treatment, and I have learned to have a plan for the day he reaches out wanting help,” she says. “I continue to provide home visitation services to the family and have been able to connect on a level that I would not have prior to taking this certification program.”
To learn more about the Substance Abuse Certificate Program, contact Liz Nagel, enagel@dcs.wisc.edu, 608-263-7023, or call 800-442-2617.