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CenterPointe Blog

Think Pointe

The Evolution of CenterPointe

In 1972 a small group of people gathered to bring a solution to the growing use of drugs in Lincoln. The solution was to establish a new non-profit that provided residential treatment for men and women 19 and older who were experiencing problems related to drug use. The registered corporate name was Lincoln Lancaster Drug Projects, but the program operated under the name Full Circle.

Treatment for substance use was relatively new in the early 1970’s. While some active treatment existed it was mostly halfway houses which incorporated Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) programming formed to support people working towards recovery. The early 1970’s brought a proliferation of treatment programs based in the AA writings, referred to as 12-Step programs. Full Circle’s treatment philosophy was different.

Full Circle, later becoming CenterPointe, started a residential treatment program in June of 1973, with a biopsychosocial philosophy of meeting the person where they are at, being person centered in the service approach, and serving the needs of the whole person. It was an uncommon approach for the time, but effective in helping each person find their own path of recovery. It was that view of caring for the whole person and responding to the needs of the individuals we serve that led the organization to further program developments.

In the early 1980’s, it was recognized that many people in the residential treatment program were dealing with co-occurring mental health problems. After limited success working with others in the psychiatric field in coordinating care, CenterPointe began to offer mental health services in 1988 by hiring clinicians who had both a license to provide mental health care and certified (later licensed) to provide substance use care. The organization received its first facility license to provide outpatient services for both mental health and substance use in 1989. CenterPointe was one of the first organizations to provide this integrated care.

It is important to note that our care for persons with co-occurring services is integrated and wholistic. Coordinating the therapeutic approach for each disorder is important as they impact one another. Our bodies are a system of systems with each system impacting other systems and affecting the overall health of the person. Therefore, we need a similar approach for health issues. If there is but one illness, then we must treat it and watch for how it might affect other systems. For example, individuals with diabetes have also experienced depression. The studies are clear that treating diabetes and the depression together helps the outcome.  If a person comes to the front door with four flat tires, it is our professional responsibility to address all four tires. It may need a collaborative approach, but it is still our responsibility. We must also teach the person about good tire maintenance, so they are successful moving down the road. This philosophy is how CenterPointe grew to include over 40 programs with the later addition of housing, street outreach, crisis response, and primary care.