Advertisement

Archive for Sunday, May 27, 1990

S DRAMATIC EXPANSION

May 27, 1990

Advertisement

It's one business where tremendous growth isn't celebrated. In fact, if you think about the huge increase in business that have occurred at DCCCA in the last 15 years, it can be troubling.

From a two-person staff that ran a drug and alcohol abuse referral system begun in 1974 with a $25,000 yearly budget and operating out of a tiny storefront at 729 Mass., DCCCA has expanded and this year will operate programs statewide with an 84-person staff and a $3 million budget.

Bruce Beale, executive director of the agency that provides alcohol and drug treatment and prevention programs, said the expansion of the agency parallels both the timing of the country's realization of enormous drug and alcohol problems, and the availability of money to fight the problems.

In some ways, he said, the not-for-profit agency's growth is "a sad statement on what's been going on. But as you well know, drug and alcohol abuse has been front page stuff for the last five years, and we've just grown with the realization of the problem and the funding."

FORMERLY known as Douglas County Citizen's Committee on Alcoholism, DCCCA's growth has included the following expansions:

The opening of satellite offices in Franklin, Miami, Osage, Coffey, Anderson and Lynn counties.

The beginning of a statewide Kansas Community Alcohol Safety Action Project, which deals with developing public information and education concerning drunken driving. This program is funded by the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Expansion into the every state prison through contacts with the Kansas Department of Corrections to provide inmate drug and alcohol treatment programs.

The creation of the Governor's Center for Teen Leadership, which provides a statewide drug and alcohol prevention program for high school students.

The opening of the Woman's Recovery Unit in Topeka, which provides treatment for women who with drug and alcohol abuse problems.

BEALE SAID DCCCA, which is headquartered at 2200 W. 25th, has just bid on another state program for the Department of Corrections that will provide evaluation of inmates for drug and alcohol abuse as they enter the prison system.

If DCCCA gets the bid, it will increase the budget by another $128,000 a year for the next three years.

"We have grown in leaps and bounds," Beale said. "I'm constantly amazed at how it keeps snowballing."

Part of the growth, Beale said, involves building a reputation over time as a cost-efficient agency.

"That's helped," he said. "Agencies know we're not going to endanger their funds or take the money and run off to the Bahamas."

Another part of the expansion involves the disappearance of the stigma that used to be attached to alcoholism and drug abuse, bringing in more referrals, Beale said.

"DRUG AND alcoholism has come a long way in 15 years," he said. "Fifteen years ago, people had the idea that a drunk was a vagrant drinking wine on a sidewalk.

"We've come from that to the realization that it affects the entire social-economic strata, from doctors and lawyers to blue collar workers."

Changes that Beale has seen over the last 15 years include treatment methods, types of referrals, the expansion of children's treatment services, and even the type of drugs being abused.

Half the referrals to DCCCA still come from the criminal justice system, an amount Beale said is down from the past. Some of these are people on probation or parole and others from some kind of diversion sentence imposed by a judge.

"So many crimes are drug and alcohol related," he said.

BEALE SAID the number of referrals from employers also has increased significantly. He said "employers realize it's easier to try to help a troubled employee than to fire them and maybe hire someone else with the same problem."

Despite tremendous budget increases that have occurred at DCCCA, Beale said the agency still lacks enough funding to hire all the counselors needed to meet caseloads. He said clients pay on a sliding scale based on their ability to pay.

"Typically, it's not enough to pay counselors' salaries," he said. "I'm consistently trying to add more staff to get to the waiting list."

Beale said 20 to 25 people are usually on the waiting list.

"And people with drug and alcohol problems don't wait very well," he added.

BEALE ALSO said the agency has also outgrown the building it leases in Lawrence, and has begun trying to accumulate funds to buy or build a bigger place.

Although Beale agrees that more money is being made available to fight the country's war on drugs, he's not sure it's all being spent in the right places.

He said "Drug Czar" William Bennett may be allotting too much money to law enforcement and not enough to treatment and prevention.

"It's a 70-30 split, with more for enforcement," he said. "I think it ought to be equal between prevention, treatment and law enforcement, and I think a lot of law enforcement people would even agree."

Although alcohol remains supreme as the most commonly abused substance, other drugs of choice have today include cocaine, marijuana and amphetamines, Beale said.

"And I've heard LSD is making a comeback," he said. "But most people we see are `poly' abusers they use a combination of drugs and alcohol.

"But drinking is actually growing faster in kids."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.