When DCCCA Center opened in 1974 as the Douglas County Citizens Committee on Alcoholism, it served clients from a one-room loft on Massachusetts Street.
Back then, the non-profit agency sported an executive director, a secretary, a movie projector and a few films on alcoholism. Today, DCCCA has about 145 employees statewide and is preparing to move its headquarters to a new $1.2 million office at Clinton Parkway and Kasold Drive.
During his tenure as executive director of the agency, Bruce Beale has witnessed the agency outgrow four offices.
During an interview Thursday at the agency's leased building on West 25th Street, Beale said it's disturbing why DCCCA, which provides alcohol and drug treatment, prevention and intervention, has expanded over the decades.
DCCCA has "grown by leaps and bounds," Beale said, because the country's alcohol and other drug problems have mushroomed.
"It's tragic to have a need for agencies like this, but there is," Beale said.
As a result of the agency's growth, DCCCA no longer stands for the Douglas County Citizens Committee on Alcholism. Although DCCCA has its headquarters in Lawrence, the agency reaches across the state.
For example, DCCCA employees works in Hutchinson with sex offenders, in Norton with alcoholic prison inmates, and in Topeka with alcoholic women and their children.
Dean Bevan, president of the agency's 15-member board of directors, remembers when DCCCA "started out simply as a citizens' alcoholism group."
"FROM THE beginning we were involved in alcohol education and counseling, and we have branched out as it has become evident that although alcohol is the main drug problem, there are others," said Bevan, who has served on the board since 1975, when Beale joined DCCCA as executive director.
Like Beale, Bevan said it's difficult to be happy about DCCCA's growth.
"We don't rejoice in increased misery," he said Friday. "It's hard to take plesasure in seeing the growth of alcoholism and drug problems, but it's a fact."
Bevan said DCCCA has been successful largely because of its early involvement in alcohol and drug education.
He also attributed the agency's success to Beale.
"I would be willing to bet that he's the best executive director of any such organization in the country," Bevan said. "I think he's been right on target as far as knowing what direction drug and alcohol problems were heading in Lawrence and the country as a whole."
IN LAWRENCE, Beale said DCCCA is seeing more "poly drug use," meaning that people are dabbling with more than one drug. Alcohol still seems to be the most widely used drug, Beale said.
Beale said DCCCA also is working with more adolescents. Some of the children have problems themselves but most are the children of chemically dependent parents.
Beale stressed that the agency doesn't see only "down and out" people.
"We see doctors and lawyers and the whole spectrum of the population," he said.
Moving to its new office building should help DCCCA better serve Lawrence's chemically dependent population. Bevan said the new office will be more efficient for staff members and convenient for clients.
Bevan and Beale hope the new DCCCA headquarters will open in April.