Looking back many years, I believe I made my decision to become a counselor when I was in high school. Even then, I realized that there were so many teenagers struggling and in need of support. It wasn’t until my 30s, however, while going through some of my own significant life transitions that I made the decision to go back to school and get my counseling license. I made this powerful choice in the wake of finally giving up alcohol – a substance that I had struggled with since I was a teenager. For over 30 years now, I have been sober and actively in recovery from alcoholism. In addition to my 25+ years working as a substance abuse counselor, I know from personal experience how substance abuse and addiction impact families, how powerful addiction can be and the challenges that we bump up against on the road of recovery. I know what it’s like to be a single mom in recovery. I understand what it’s like to navigate the feelings of guilt and shame and the painful consequences that come from decisions made while under the influence. I can identify with the pain that lives beneath the surface and triggers people to use. However, I also know that there is always hope and healing available. I believe that with support and an effective recovery strategy, pain, guilt and shame can give way to forgiveness, compassion, strength and joy.
I first began counseling teenagers, but quickly realized that problems teenagers face are often the result of issues occurring within the family system. Taking a personal inventory of my own struggles as a teenager and throughout my 20s, I recalled problems within my own family – many of which were related to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. It was after taking an in-depth and honest look at my family and myself that I knew I needed to dive deep into my own personal work. I firmly believe that counselors need to work through their own issues in order to effectively treat their clients. Otherwise, the counselor’s own blind spots and triggers can transfer onto clients and affect their ability to provide good therapy. In my own healing journey, I continue to work a 12-step program and have attended numerous workshops and retreats, engaged in both individual and group therapy, and gone through EMDR and other trauma treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy, Gestalt therapy and additional experiential approaches. My personal work, as well as my training, influences what I offer clients and bring into sessions. I’d never ask a client to engage in a therapy or treatment that they are not ready for or comfortable with.
For more than two decades, I’ve been providing support, guidance, tools and a warm, nonjudgmental and compassionate space to help my clients mitigate, manage and overcome substance abuse issues. I also help clients work through the feelings of trauma, depression, anxiety, grief and loss that often co-occur with addictions. I see a lot of depression and trauma, particularly, come up with the individuals and families I work with. Many people who abuse substances have been afflicted by at least one trauma. And, alcohol is a depressant, so – on some level – everyone who drinks heavily will experience depression.
I approach my work as a substance abuse counselor from a family systems perspective. While many people and families struggling with substance abuse issues experience similar difficulties, which we will address, I also understand that each of my clients and their families are unique. In treating each client, I draw from a variety of approaches and techniques to custom tailor a strategy that will best support everyone’s needs. I always come from a place of hope and positive regard. I believe that everyone is doing their best with what they have and that we all need extra support and guidance sometimes.
Outside of work, I spend time enjoying friends and family, renovating my home and participating in my own recovery. I am a proud mother to a wonderful daughter, Nana to three gorgeous grandchildren, daughter to the woman who inspires me to be the very best I can be and wife to a brilliant man. I have extended family members who have moved into recovery over the years, filling me with hope for all of those who still suffer. I can’t say it too many times: There is always hope and healing.
You don’t have to navigate the pain, uncertainty and cycle of addiction on your own. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse or addiction in Houston, TX, I invite you to call me at 832-928-0211 for a free 15-minute consultation. I’m happy to discuss your specific situation and answer any questions you have about drug and alcohol counseling and my practice.
Linda Kagey, LCDC, ADC is a licensed chemical dependency counselor with more than 20 years of experience providing addiction and codependency treatment to adults, adolescents and families. She has extensive counseling experience with both the criminal and family law systems and can provide evaluations and therapy as needed, as well as expert testimony on substance abuse and its impact on families. Linda is a Love First Interventionist and a certified trainer for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). She currently is the co-chair on the Texas Collaborative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Steering Committee. Linda is affiliated with the Houston Area Partnership on FASD, Texas Association of Addiction Professionals, NAADAC Association for Addiction Professionals, national and local chapters of Employee Assistance Professional Association and serves on the board of the Coalition of Behavioral Health Services.