When Daniel Plotkin joined The Recovery Place as a housing support technician in 2009, he didn’t know what a case manager was, much less that he would someday love being one. When he had the opportunity to move into this role, he realized just how important case management is for people struggling with addictions and co-occurring mental health issues.
As a lead case manager, Daniel acts as a liaison between clients and the various groups and agencies they are in contact with during treatment. For example, if a client needs assistance with insurance or disability claims, food stamps, child services, legal issues, or getting a leave of absence from work, Daniel is there to help make it happen. He also helps clients set up aftercare services, such as outpatient treatment, 12-Step meetings, sober living facilities and ongoing counseling.
“Clients look to us to be advocates for them in many areas of life,” says Daniel. “We do everything in our power to get them the support and services they need so they can focus on the work of recovery.”
Meeting Every Need
Case management is a “desk job,” but Daniel is by no means desk-bound. Essential to his job is interacting directly with clients so he can anticipate problems and better understand what clients need to stay sober and reintegrate into society. By its nature, case management is client-centered. Daniel meets each client where they are by responding to practical needs such as food, shelter and child care using an approach that is resourceful and direct. Although he doesn’t sugarcoat issues for clients, he’s easy to work with. Clients know he cares and will do everything he can to help.
“As a case manager, my days are unpredictable, but I enjoy being presented with a lot of different issues from a lot of different people,” he says. “By far, the best part of my job is interacting with clients and watching them make changes in their lives.”
A New State and a Fresh Start
Daniel draws upon his personal and professional experience with addiction to educate the agencies he works with and to ensure that clients get their needs met. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (“Go Packers!” he exclaims), Daniel came to Florida after a family intervention propelled him into treatment. Realizing he had run out of options – it was either get help or live on the streets – he drove down to West Palm Beach and entered rehab.
“Treatment opened my eyes to 12-Step recovery and helped me work through the issues from my past,” Daniel says. “It was tough at first, but I found a great sponsor and people to connect with. Looking back, it was really magical the way the pieces fell into place when I committed to doing the next right thing.”
Living the Lessons of Recovery
After getting sober in treatment and spending nine months in a halfway house, Daniel knew he wanted to work in the field so he could help people in the same position he was in. Currently pursuing an Addictions Counselor Certification, Daniel hopes to go on to earn a master’s degree and become a therapist one day. He continues to work a recovery program, attending meetings every week, working with a sponsor and sponsoring addicts who are new to recovery.
“Every day is a new lesson for me. Friends with drug and alcohol problems have come and gone; my long-time sponsor who helped me into recovery relapsed last year. No matter who you are or how much time you have in recovery, you are not immune from this disease. That’s why I make a point of taking care of myself, reaching out when I need support and making the most of every day,” says Daniel. “People struggling with addiction need to know that they are not alone. Life can only get better if they give treatment a chance.”