Project Director, Los Angeles County Evaluation System, UCLA
Drug and alcohol addiction is a significant and pervasive problem in today’s society. The Office of National Drug Control Policy estimated that in 2005 in the state of California alone the cost to society due to drug and alcohol abuse was over $44 billion. Alumna Desirée Crèvecoeur, working for UCLA, is directing the Los Angeles County Evaluation System (LACES) project to directly address these growing concerns.
The project seeks to evaluate all contracted adult alcohol and other drug treatment centers in Los Angeles, which number to about 500, and the project is currently funded through June 30, 2010. Desirée reviews admission and discharge data, client outcomes, and program performance measures. The goal is to see if the outcomes of these programs are where they need to be. The performance and outcome measures are reported back to the service providers at least annually, and sometimes quarterly, to provide them with feedback. Desirée provides training on performance management, process improvement, and the data collection system to treatment providers. She also coordinates trainings on contingency management and motivation interviewing.
The evaluation and training efforts could have big implications for the way we view addiction. “I’ve learned that it takes a number of different procedures to get someone sober. Many people think that if one method worked for them, it will work for everyone else, but this is not always the case.” For example, while some patients may show the best results through family therapy, others may require medications to achieve optimal recovery.
Desirée also stresses the fact that treatment for substance abusers should be seen as an ongoing and continuous process. “Addiction cannot be viewed as something that can be easily cured by a few weeks in treatment.” Desirée ultimately believes that the system could be improved if the above ideas about addiction were understood to create a shift towards the concept that addiction be treated under a continuing care model and funding for treatment increased appropriately.