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"I am Striving to Become a Healthy Healer. "

Joe Powell, LCDC, CASJoe Powell
Executive Director
Association of Persons Affected by Addiction (APAA)

Joe Powell, a leader, advisor and mentor, grew up during the civil rights movement in Harlem, New York.  He was a scared kid who saw violence outside and inside the home, along with seven brothers and one sister.  He and his two older brothers made a living for the family by tap dancing in New York City and often danced with well known performers of the time.  He also learned to medicate with alcohol and drugs.

Fast forward to 2008 and you will find Joe Powell with 20 years of long term recovery and 20 years experience treating individuals suffering from addictions with co-occurring mental illness and substance use problems in Dallas, Texas.

How did you find recovery?
In 1987 I was in school and struggling.  A courageous friend asked me if I would like to quit drinking and I simply replied, “Yes.”  This was a pivotal moment.  Life as I knew it was forever more changed.

How did you choose to be in the addiction treatment and recovery services field?
In the beginning I connected with a psychiatrist who served as my sponsor and even though he was very busy with his own career, he made time for me every day.  He worked with me and encouraged me to go back to school. As a result, I ended up with an internship working with a counselor.  This was the very beginning of my career.  If I hadn’t been in recovery and working to change my life, I would have never had this opportunity.

Did you have mentors along the way?
Yes, I definitely consider my first sponsor a mentor.   He was supportive, encouraging and showed me a new way of living.  I was also very lucky to be surrounded by old timers who worked the program.  They taught me that “The Buck Stops Here!” Meaning, I am responsible for my own recovery.  I was taught how to deal with feelings; live by principles; and seek new ways of doing things.  My wife was my mentor too.  She encouraged and motivated me to do something different.  She stood beside me and let me pursue my own path.  At the same time, she was working on her own career in the Army.  These lessons have been invaluable, and I try to apply them in my career and daily life today.   In addition, they are often a spiritual experience for me because they help take me to the next level.

What advice would you give to emerging leaders?  First of all, education is essential. Whether you’re taking a co-dependency class and learning about boundaries or obtaining your counselor certification,  match your insides (your desires) with the education needed and where you want your career to go.  Secondly, be yourself.  Be authentic. When you are authentic, things will come more naturally.  Find teachers and mentors who are willing to give you feedback.  These people will be very supportive in your personal and professional growth.  As a mentee, remember to stick with the winners, listen, and pay attention.

Do you mentor others and if so, what are the benefits?
Yes, I try to be helpful to others.  It is a way to give back what was given to me. Through the mentoring relationship I receive love and feel spiritually connected.  I also grow emotionally and spiritually.  It’s a great feeling to be connected, and it is important to be there for each other.  Unconditional love, love for each other, is the highest love you can give.  You’re giving your authentic love and truth, “the juice.”

How has your personal and professional life changed since you’ve been in recovery?
My life has truly come full circle and my career accomplishments are a direct reflection of the personal recovery work done over the past 20 years.  Although there is still more to be done, I am striving to become a “Healthy Healer,” modeling healthy behavior and assisting those who are suffering from addiction to reach for a way out through recovery.   Most importantly, because of long term recovery, I have been married for 20 years and have two sons.  I am very grateful.

Joe Powell's Bio

Joe Powell is an established leader in the recovery field.  He has 20 years of addiction treatment and recovery services experience, and has also accumulated co-occurring illness expertise over the past 15 years. 

Since 1998 Mr. Powell has been involved in peer to peer recovery services and is currently the Executive Director of APAA, a non-profit organization providing recovery support services to individuals in or seeking recovery from alcohol or drug addiction.  APAA was one of the first SAMHSA/CSAT federally funded Recovery Community Support Projects. The organization supported Katrina survivors with culturally congruent recovery community support services and recently made history by signing the first addiction recovery contract with Value Options, a managed care company, for peer to peer recovery support services.

Furthermore, Joe Powell is passionate about the message of recovery, promoting overall health and wellness of those who are progressing beyond the wreckage of addiction.  Because all eight siblings suffered from addictions and four with severe mental illness, Mr. Powell was motivated to start the first African American National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) in Dallas.  He is currently board chairman for the NAMI- Southern Sector. 

Mr. Powell is an active member of the ATTC Network Advisory Group; serves on several boards, including Faces & Voices of Recovery; and has participated in a number of SAMHA initiatives.  He is a licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and a Certified Acudetox Specialist (CAS).

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