Erik Shaffer MSL, LISAC


Erik Shaffer is another of our most tenured therapists. He has worked in the fields of counseling and substance abuse since 1990, so about 27 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Utah State University and a master’s degree in Business Management and Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University. He also has a graduate certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling and Pharmacology. He is a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC).

Erik started this work as a volunteer, completing his practicum work at the Youth Detention Center in Logan, Utah. After that, he was hired on to work with youth at Brigham City Community Health Center as a counselor, followed by BenchMark Regional. Many of the cases he saw involved substance abuse and eventually, Erik moved into outpatient substance abuse treatment for youth.

He worked with youth in substance abuse until he moved to Arizona in 1999. Since then, Erik has been working with adults in substance abuse treatment. He has thrived in leadership and management positions in substance abuse treatment for approximately 15 years.

He has extensive training and experience in Motivational Interviewing, as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. These are the models of therapy that he prefers to follow in his sessions. Erik enjoys working in private care, appreciating the particular freedoms that come along with it.

Erik has the heart of an artist, originally studying art in college before changing paths to therapy. While he acknowledges his job as a difficult one, with many ups and downs, Erik has always felt drawn to this work and believes that he is making a difference in others’ lives.

He still greatly enjoys woodworking, remodeling, and interior design. He also loves the outdoors, off-roading and camping when he has the time.

“My biggest payoff for doing this kind of work is seeing the successes, having somebody come back and see me again in six months to say that they are doing well and that I made a difference… I don’t take credit for the work they do, it’s them who do the work, but I like to think I had something to do with it.”

Erik Shaffer

Erik’s Substance Abuse Video Resources

Erik’s Message of Hope to Loved Ones & Those Still in Active Addiction

Erik Schaffer went through his own addiction issues when he was young, and it inspired him to turn around and help others who are going through similar struggles.

Seeing people thrive throughout their treatment is one of the most rewarding parts of Erik’s job, and it helps him to continue to work in the addiction treatment field at A Better Today Recovery Services.

He wants everyone to know that there is a way out and there is hope, no matter where you are right now, and for families of addicted loved ones to hold on to that hope.

The Disease Model of Addiction

Drug and alcohol addictions have a stigma associated with them. Many people believe that becoming an addict is a choice and that people can just stop using if they really want to. That is incorrect.

Erik Shaffer describes that when a person becomes addicted to a substance such as heroin or painkillers, that person begins to depend on the substance to function. Substance abuse changes the chemistry in the brain, which can lead to negative consequences in both the brain and the body.

When substance abuse gets to this point, life-threatening withdrawals and drug seeking behaviors can trap a person in a vicious cycle of abuse and withdrawal. Detoxing and therapy can help a person begin their recovery.

The Science Behind Substance Abuse Addictions

When people continue to abuse drugs & alcohol, the brain becomes corrupted by the poisons ingested. These substances manipulate important chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, and glutamine, which regulate mood.

Erik Shaffer explains the disease model of addiction and why the manipulation of these chemicals leads people to indulge in drug and alcohol abuse, as the stimulation of these chemicals makes the brain begin to be dependent on the payoffs of these chemicals.

This corruption of the chemicals natural process can lead people to engage in behaviors that lead to negative consequences.

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