Report on CAADAC

Ed D. has submitted a report to the LifeRing Board of Directors about his recent experience heading LifeRing’s participation as an exhibitor at the CAADAC conference in Southern California. Here’s his report (slightly edited):

CAADAC Annual Conference, 2010 (Marriott Hotel, Irvine, CA)

Lifering continued its tradition of sponsoring an “Exhibitors Booth” at the CAADAC (California Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors) Annual Convention in Irvine, CA. The total number of convention participants was about 500 (350 licensed addiction counselors and 150 students in-training to be certified as drug abuse counselors). It’s my impression that CAADAC certified addiction counselors provide the lion’s share of patient care in the 100’s of residential treatment centers and 1000’s of aftercare programs in California. Their responsibilities include leading process groups and individual counseling sessions. They may also be in private practice with limited scope. In California Lifering involvement in CAADAC events and activities probably provides our “best bang for the buck”.

Arriving at the exhibitor’s hall a couple of hours early I discovered that the Lifering booth pre-assigned space was at one of the two tables facing and directly in front of the room entrance (and a few steps away from the coffee and snack tables), guarantying everyone who entered the room would first see and then pass by us.

I learned that CAADAC executives are not just supportive of but very enthusiastic about Lifering. Two reasons: the first one is they like the fact that Lifering is a reliable participant in the annual CAADAC convention (and the excellent relationship with CAADAC forged by Marty N.)

The second reason is much more significant: the new explicit mantra and fundamental philosophy of CAADAC is “Choice”.  Needless to say, this is completely consistent with Marty’s (and Lifering’s) view that the more treatment choice recovering people have the better. I will describe three examples from among the many dozens of similar available from the CAADAC convention that will provide a view of the new situation for Lifering (at least in California):

1.    Late on the second day a person approached the LR booth. He asked me to describe Lifering to him. Asking him if he’d ever heard of Lifering, he said “No, but over the last month I’ve gotten several phone calls from people saying we need to offer more choice.” It turned out he owned and managed six treatment centers in the Southern California area. After our pitch, he said “This sounds like just what we need. Can you make a presentation to our staffs starting next week and start your groups with us the following week?” He left with a handful of LR brochures to deliver to each of his treatment facilities.

2.    Directly next to our booth was CRC Health Group. I learned from their marketing director who was managing the booth that CRC Health Group is the largest firm in the residential addiction treatment recovery business. They have about forty centers in California and over 250 centers in the U.S. ( We had a chance to talk a number of times over the course of the two days. Near the end of the second day he approached me and said he would like to see Lifering groups in all the CRC Health treatment centers. He said that we should use his name when we make the initial call to insure we will be accepted.

3.    A representative of a boutique residential treatment center about an hour and a half north of San Francisco, approached the LR booth. They had heard about Lifering (before our sales pitch) and said: “We’d like you to make a presentation to our staff next week and start a Lifering group at our place the following week”.

Observation: In California it is apparent that there has been a fundamental shift within the Recovery Treatment community to include support groups from perspectives other than 12 Step. This seems to be not just a trend but a mandate.

Conclusion: The situation in California for Lifering is no longer one of fighting resistance (mostly 12 Step, of course) to our approach. Our challenge is now to be able to find enough convenors to meet demand for Lifering groups.

Recommendation: To meet the increasing demand for Lifering support groups we need to have a more effective way of creating convenors. In addition to the model described in detail by Marty in “How Was Your  Week” and the relevant brochure, Lifering might consider making explicit a second model of convenors that would ease the burden of starting new LR support groups in communities where none now exist. A “Team-Convenor” model in which the task of presenting to the staff of the targeted treatment center (and attending to the other operational elements that need to be taken care of)  is shared by a couple of people so a new group can get off the ground.

Thanks: Bob O. (Sacramento) and Jim M. (Costa Mesa) did most of the heavy lifting at our CAADAC booth. Thank you so much.

— Ed D.