L.A. CADA: Fifty Years of Increasing Access to Behavioral Healthcare

L.A. CADA: Fifty Years of Increasing Access to Behavioral Healthcare

As we close in on the mid-point of our fiftieth year of service to Los Angeles County, L.A. CADA wants to share some of our history with you.

When our agency was established in 1971, the world was a very different place. The Vietnam War was raging in Vietname, Laos, and Cambodia. In combat units, more than half the unit were young adults under the age of 21. Due to the extreme trauma of the Vietnam War, many of these soldiers developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – a condition that frequently co-occurs with addiction in an effort to self-medicate pain and stress. What’s worse, Vietnam veterans were subject to a hostile return when they returned home from war. Instead of being treated like heroes (as their fathers were after World War II), Vietnam veterans were shunned, ridiculed and expelled from their peer groups. These young veterans, many of whom were people of color, found it difficult to reintegrate into a workforce that largely had no use for their military skills. Many became homeless.

L.A. CADA was established as a non-profit agency to address these issues by providing treatment instead of incarceration. Our first efforts were made in a storefront office where volunteers delivered crisis counseling, one-on-one support, and peer recovery groups. Paid staff were added slowly. In 1988, a merger with The Open-Door Clinic provided a brick and mortar building where L.A. CADA could deliver integrated treatment for alcohol and mental health disorders, with case management for referral to primary healthcare. In 1989, L.A. CADA became one of the first treatment facilities in L.A. County to open an HIV services division thanks to funding from the very first round of CDC prevention grants. And in 1995, L.A. CADA opened its first residential treatment program – Allen House.

Today, we are a behavioral healthcare powerhouse, with 199 state-licensed treatment beds, 211 beds for Residential Bridge Housing (we’re the largest RBH provider in the county), and more than 500 slots in multiple outpatient treatment programs. L.A. CADA has always served low-income, disadvantaged populations, specifically: people of color, the homeless, the LGBQ+ community, persons living with HIV/and those at-risk, as well as youth and adults persecuted by the local War on Drugs through the criminal justice system. And we are still growing. Our focus is on achieving greater behavioral health equity for our service groups. We can’t wait to see what L.A. CADA will do in the next 50 years!

Learn more about: L.A. CADA’s Continuum of Care

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