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The War on Addiction

2000 - 2006 Public Record Review of California Substance Abuse Treatment

2007 - 2012 Addendum to The War on Addiction
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Information for Drug Addiction Counselor Certification

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Governor Brown's 2012-13 fiscal budget substantially cut funding for Alcohol and Drug treatment programs, eliminated the State Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, and transitioned those functions to the Department of Health Care Services.

California has a dismal history of implementing needed legislation that would upgrade the quality of care for substance use disorders.  Bills that recently failed were:

  • Senate Bill 570 in 2013
  • Assembly Bill 395 in 2013
  • Assembly Bill 972 in 2011
  • Assembly Bill 2221 in 2010
  • Assembly Bill 1055 in 2009
  • Senate Bill 707 in 2009

In April 2005, California did strengthen regulation governing minimum levels of educational training for Drug Addiction Counselors.  Information on current regulations can be found at www.adp.ca.gov under Licensing and Counselor Certification.

It is the opinion of The Justin Foundation that the current state regulations for Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselors in California are appallingly substandard based on the following regulations requirements:

  • There is no requirement for criminal background checks.  Senate Bill 570 would have implemented needed criminal background checks for substance abuse counselors (though not for management or administrative staff) but it has been placed in the Appropriations "suspense file".  Criminal background checks should be a required part of the certification process and felons with violent or predatory backgrounds should not be allowed to become Drug Addiction Counselors treating a vulnerable and recovering population.
  • The minimum requirement for formal education is 155 hours of study.  The Justin Foundation feels strongly that 155 hours of study is not adequate to educate counselors on the disease of addiction, treatment methods, recovery techniques, relapse prevention and to develop the relationship skills necessary for counseling.  This is the lowest standard in the nation!
  • Beginning on April 30, 2010, it became necessary for a minimum of 30% of counselors in treatment facilities to be certified.  ALL Drug Addiction Counselors working in this field should be certified or licensed by the State of California and all interns should be working under the direct supervision of a certified or licensed counselor.
  • The Justin Foundation strongly believes that our loved ones need protection.  We need to know that when we admit a loved one into a treatment facility for a substance use disorder that they will be safe from harm.
  • All detox should be done under the supervision of medically trained personnel.  Assembly Bill 395 would have required this (without any state oversight for medical facilities) but that bill has also been placed in the Appropriates "suspense file".
  • We also need to know that the program our loved one is admitted to provides an evidence based treatment protocol.  Currently, there is no such requirement.
  • All new patients should be evaluated by a licensed physician and psychiatrist or licensed therapist to identify co-occuring disorders and recommend appropriate treatment.  California's current system is based on an outdated social model that does not allow any medical treatment or evaluation at licensed drug treatment facilities.

As a consumer, please be aware that the above counselor regulations do NOT cover Drug Addiction Counselors who choose to work at a privately operated office or facility.  These individuals do not fall under any state regulations and are currently not held accountable to any laws other than federal and state criminal codes.

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