How do addiction treatment centers track the progress of their program graduates? Can social media be an effective tool for staying in touch with alumni? Can a treatment program identify in advance the clients most likely to remain involved with the center after they leave?
Professionals who coordinate alumni activities for some of the highest-profile treatment centers believe it’s time for the field to get a better grasp on the answers to these questions. To that end they are forming a national trade group that will encourage alumni activities and promote professional collaboration and educational opportunities. The group’s name is Treatment Professionals in Alumni Development (TPAD).
“In the past I was surprised to learn that many treatment centers don’t have alumni programs, and that includes some of the big names in the field,” says Lorie Obernauer, alumni coordinator at the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation (CeDAR) at the University of Colorado Hospital. Obernauer sees the presence of an active alumni program as significant to clients’ long-term wellness as well as to the financial health of a treatment organization, as many active alumni will become enthusiastic program supporters.
Obernauer launched the effort to establish a group of alumni professionals when in a September/October 2009 Addiction Professional article she urged readers to contact her for this purpose. Many expressed interest, and she says at this point about 50 professionals want to be part of the group.
Although the association has not been officially formed, it does have some mission statement language and a logo. Facilities represented among those with professionals interested in joining include the Betty Ford Center, Hazelden, Pine Grove, Hanley Center, Father Martin’s Ashley, Brighton Hospital, Caron Treatment Centers, The Right Step and Sierra Tucson.
“I’ve heard from several CEOs who have said, ‘I’d like my alumni coordinator involved in this,’” says Obernauer.
She says the group already has listed about two dozen topics that it would like to pursue under the auspices of the association. “Quite a few of us recognize that we need to look at what works” in alumni programming activities, she says. “This is a large part of keeping a center going.”
In the coming months, the group will discuss opportunities for regular face-to-face meetings, possibly by scheduling sessions as part of larger national conferences in the treatment field. Obernauer still is encouraging alumni coordinators to join the effort; she can be contacted at (303) 854-4087 or via e-mail at Lorie.Obernauer@uch.edu.