Alumnus: Teating Addiction as a Disease

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (April 19, 2016) – Treating addiction as a disease and working toward recovery is not only beneficial for the families but for taxpayers as well, Phil Breitenbucher ('00), told a California Baptist University audience.                              

Breitenbucher is a program director for Children and Family Futures, a not-for-profit organization based in Lake Forest, Calif., that seeks to help families affected by trauma, substance use and mental health disorders.  He has more than 15 years of experience in the management of public child welfare and community-based prevention services. Breitenbucher spoke as part of the School of Behavioral Science's Culture and Justice Lecture Series on April 14.

Breitenbucher said the social worker's job is "to improve the well-being of individuals and advocate for social justice in complex social issues."

"Sixty to 80 percent of all child welfare cases in America are due to substance abuse as an underlying factor," Breitenbucher said.

Substance abuse is the fastest growing reason for removal of children from their homes, Breitenbucher said. One of the programs he is involved in seeks to reunify families by treating addiction as a disease.

"We're family centered, so right away we put child and mom back together again and treat them as a whole family," Breitenbucher said. "That works much better because addiction really effects the whole family."

Keeping families together can also help reduce the expensive costs of foster care that burden taxpayers, he said.  

Although addiction and its effect on families can be a complex subject, Breitenbucher believes there is hope.

"All children deserve to be in safe, stable homes. Substance use disorder is very prevalent in our society," he said. "Addiction is a disease and recovery is possible. As a community, if we rally around this issue of child welfare and substance use, we can keep kids safe, keep families together and save taxpayers' dollars."

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