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Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023

Mental Health Services


Jody Sweeten, who appeared on “Full House,” will be CADA’s guest at its annual meeting.

CADA seeks to make a difference

Just driving around town, you see them almost every day. People who look like they are having some sort of physical or emotional issue, standing on the corner, agitated, looking somehow off, or in the store, creating an uncomfortable situation.

These are the people that a local agency, the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse of Northwest Louisiana (CADA), is being given the tools to help to make a tangible difference, according to Chief Development Officer Susan Reeks.

“We now have been selected to be the Crisis Response Provider for Region Seven in Louisiana, so that’s nine parishes in north Louisiana. That is going to totally transform the way that we address mental health services for people that we encounter.”

Reeks explained that the old way of dealing with people suffering from the effects of drugs or alcohol was to call the police, who would then have to determine whether the person needed to go to the hospital or jail.

Now, CADA will be another resource for patrol officers to tap into when they need an assessment. “A peer support specialist will come out and talk to [them] or accept them at our receiving center, which is going to be downtown,” she explained. “Sometimes people won’t need treatment at all. Sometimes they just need to go talk to somebody and get stabilized. But there will be follow-up to make sure that they get services [they need].”

The scope of this new program will be detailed in CADA’s annual meeting, which is slated for Oct. 4 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Strand Theatre in Shreveport.

This year, actress and now counselor Jody Sweeten, who portrayed the middle child on “Full House” and was familiar to fans all over the world, according to Reeks, is the guest. Sweeten also worked in the show’s “Fuller House” reboot and other projects. The group calls on a keynote speaker to bring their personal perspective or experience to the topic of drug and alcohol abuse.

“She done movies and things, but she’s also in recovery. She’s going to come tell her stories about what led to her addiction after being one of the most popular child actors in the country,” Reeks said.

Sweeten faced some unique emotional challenges while going through adolescence in the spotlight. It is a sad and familiar story.

“So, by high school, she had started drinking and started using drugs, and on into college, it got really bad,” Reeks said. “Ten years later, she went back to college and ended up getting a degree in addiction counseling.

“You’ll see that a lot in this community. People who had their lives changed and recovered their own lives with the help of great counselors decide that that’s what they want to do.”

CADA has similar stories to Sweeten’s in the local office. They provide counselors and clinical staff to help guide those in recovery to a successful outcome. That’s where the peer support specialists are especially important, Reeks explained.

“The peers have live experience. They’ve all been through addiction treatment. They’ve all been through special training so they can help and support people through the whole treatment process and even after we discharge them from treatment. They can stay in touch with somebody for up to four years.

“It’s a coordination of services for people to make sure that they don’t fall through the cracks and keep going through this revolving door of mental health services. It’s going to be huge.”

As big as the potential is, according to Reeks, it won’t be possible without community support. Going to the annual meeting at the Strand will help CADA continue its mission and take on the new task of being a vital part of the interface between identifying a person with a problem and getting them into the right course of action.

“Until you learn more about it, you cannot imagine how this is going to impact our community. These law enforcement officers are totally on board. They see (mental health and addiction issues) every day, and they don’t want to take these people to prison or to the emergency room, which is already overcrowded.”

Reeks encourages everyone to come to the annual event to see a video of CADA’s services and to get a broader understanding of their mission to the community. Even if you are not personally affected by the problem of addiction, chances are you might know someone who is.

“Come to this annual meeting where there will be video content, eat buffet food before the program, and talk to people and look around and see all the content we have where they can learn more about our programs.”

For more information about CADA and its programs, you can visit their websites at www.cadanwla.org or the CADA school site, www.cadaschool.com. “There are resources for students, parents, and educators. All the school’s on-line courses that anybody can take. They are very affordable,” Reeks said.

CADA’s annual meeting will be held at the Strand on Oct. 4.


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