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Training the Substance Abuse Specialist

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 64 Issue: 2 Dated: December 2000 Pages: 52-57
Sam Torres Ph.D.; Robert M. Latta B.A.
Timothy P. Cadigan, Ellen Wilson Fielding
Date Published
6 pages
The Central District of California (CDC) has 20 years experience with the substance abuse specialist position and has developed a training program for probation officers interested in being a substance abuse specialist.
The training program, implemented with a group of 32 probation officers in June 1999, was divided into academic, experiential/on-the-job training (OJT) components. Four modules were included in the academic component: (1) CDC substance abuse philosophy; (2) interviewing/structuring and assessment; (3) supervision of substance abusers, problems, and violations; and (4) substance abuse testing and drug trends. In the experiential/OJT component, participating officers supervised a drug caseload for a 3-month period. At the end of the training program, considerable input on performance was obtained from supervisors, support staff, and the substance abuse coordinator, along with a self-evaluation by participants. The substance abuse coordinator developed a rank order list of participants to submit to the chief probation officer for appointment and promotion. While it is too early to tell if the training program will be effective in selecting probation officers appropriate for a substance abuse caseload, the program has established objective criteria and a process that ensures fairness. 9 references