SYSTEMATIC BREAKDOWN – 

March 24, 2021 – In a spectacular display of stigma related to the disease of addiction and its treatment, there has not been a rush to expand capacity, address decades of old workforce shortages, or properly prepared for the tidal wave of death and destruction now washing onto the shores of California. And now, the state’s failure to understand the critical role that licensure for the profession plays in attracting and maintaining the workforce has come home to roost. We are behind; far behind in developing the resources needed to treat addiction.

In California, one voice stands alone to address this crisis – San Francisco Assemblymember David Chiu. His Assembly Bill 666 was the only bill introduced to address workforce during this catastrophic system failure. It’s $9 million spending plan hopes to create more certified counselors, attract more multi-lingual practitioners, cross-train other licensed professionals, and address the desperately high needs of LGBTQ youth with addiction. The bill is a much needed short-term capacity builder that will save lives, but when will the legislature and administration address the systemic problems that have decimated this workforce? According to the California Senate Committee on Appropriations’ analysis of SB-1101 Alcohol and drug counselors: regulation (2015-2016), “In recent years, there have been several bills proposed to license drug and alcohol counselors, including SB 570 (DeSaulnier, 2013), AB 2007 (Williams, 2012), SB 1203 (DeSaulnier, 2010), SB 707 (DeSaulnier, 2009) and others. None of those bills were enacted.” (2016). The state’s largest and most vocal advocacy organization for addiction treatment and prevention, the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP), has been intimately involved in this multiple-year effort to create SUD counselor licensure in California. CCAPP’s vision for SUD counselor development involves a career ladder that begins with registered SUD counselor interns and progresses through levels leading to state-issued licensure. The tiered system allows SUD counseling professionals to advance according to specific education milestones and years of experience in the profession.

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