Wednesday, September 23, 2009

DUI Programs

After having worked in the field of addiction for over 20 years, I am increasingly alarmed about the quality of care provided in County Alcohol and Drug Programs in regards to Title 9, California Code of Regulations. In 1992, I worked for the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers when the white paper, titled “Treatment is the Answer, was published. Yet, sadly, today there are fewer treatment facilities and more DUI Schools.

Special interest groups have sprouted: CADAC (Certified Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselor) and NADAC to name a few, whose primary function is to get counselors certified and to collect dues for them.
They do nothing to improve the quality of work-life for the counselor who pays out of pocket for CEU’s, pays to attend networking conferences, and must pay to be a member of their organization. The DUI programs are mostly concerned with getting the “offenders” enrolled, collecting money and keeping up with required documentation—we have in our office seven full-time employees whose duties are crossing “T’s” and dotting “I’s”. Very little is done in the way of reviewing, monitoring, or improving the quality of our clients’ care.

Why must case managers or group leaders continue keeping CEU’s and certification current to conduct 15 minute “face-to-face” counseling sessions when our primary focus has become collecting payments, documenting attendance in groups, and rescheduling.
Are we counselors or wardens? With people transferring in and out at different intervals, it is not a “safe” therapeutic environment. We cannot force people to open up and talk if we treat them like prisoners and not “patients/paying clients.” The concern is always on how much time is spent in group…not on the quality of the lecture, films or group.

As I have experienced, Alcoholics Anonymous is not group therapy—group therapy is not A.A., and DUI School is neither … It is “group detention.”
The primary concern of the DUI School is to make money.

The “counseling staff” is mostly made up of part-time employees, with no cost of living increases, no benefits, no vacation pay, and under constant scrutiny to keep our hours limited. We, the counselors, are not even given the necessary time to prepare or review our files before appointment times for a face-to-face. Yet, the full time non-counseling staff, office receptionist, office assistant, and book keeper is paid to review files. Staff meetings are used to inform as to how much money is owed and how we, the counseling staff, must collect it.

Sandy Robins
Author of They Do Remember: a story of soul survival

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