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No Background Checks in California…for Substance Abuse Counselors


If you’re currently an alcoholic, drug addict, or sex offender in California, don’t worry. There is one job you still check out for: drug and alcohol counselor. The Sacramento Bee reports on the results of a California State Senate investigation:

The investigation identified at least 23 registered sex offenders certified as drug and alcohol counselors, a finding the report calls “the most dramatic example of the pitfalls of the state choosing to ignore criminal histories.” Two were convicted of sex offenses while they were approved to work as counselors. […]

The agency that regulates the counselors, the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, also does not track arrests or convictions that occur after certification, leaving it up to the employers and private certification agencies, including several based in Sacramento, to discover and report issues with counselors.

There’s nothing wrong with past substance abusers eventually finding work as substance abuse counselors; in fact, we assume that people who have struggled with but overcome alcohol or drug addiction are best equipped to counsel and empathize with those currently struggling. But giving registered sex offenders jobs that could involve counseling vulnerable people and taking no steps to ensure that the counselors aren’t also users does not, to put it mildly, seem wise.

Before trying to regulate everything else under the sun, California might first want to make sure the state is minimally competent when it comes to overseeing the responsibilities it has already taken on.

[California pills image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Jim Luebke

    Back in Lincoln’s time, the temperance movement was supported greatly by former alcoholics and their testimonials.

    As for sex offenders — there should probably be efforts to block these from counseling of all kinds, including psychology and psychiatry.

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