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Prior to working in the addictions unit I worked in all the hospital wards gaining very valuable experience in general psychiatry which was essential in working in addictions, as patients with dual diagnosis is a significant aspect of the work. I was given the opportunity to train in psychotherapy which eventually led to a Master's degree in Psychoanalytical Studies. I joined a very inexperienced team which developed an addiction service from no service being in place prior to that. This was a useful period of development for me as much of my knowledge, skills and competence was derived from self-directed learning. This experience instilled an aptitude for selective learning, prioritising and assimilation of appropriate material for myself and other staff. The experience also taught me the value of training and leadership.
You should take any appropriate training and experience opportunities that become available to you. You should be aware that addictions are a complex area and it will take time, patience, a willingness to learn, an ability to acknowledge your own mistakes, an ability to time interventions and an acknowledgement that your efforts are not always appreciated. Before taking up a post like this you should consider whether or not you like working in a team and whether or not you like group work. You should also consider whether or not you can handle the stress of abusive behaviour and allegations. It would be helpful for you to establish a network of colleagues and friends who will support you in times of difficulty. Remember to look after junior staff - they are the senior staff of the future. Put time and effort every working week into building bridges.
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