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Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency
Substance Abuse Services

--  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)  --


CalWORKs Case Management Deferred Judgment Drug Program

Detention Youth Services

Drinking Driver Program

Drug Court

Friday Night Live Program

Jail Transitions

Youth Treatment


Drinking Driver Program

I got arrested for driving under the influence, what are the programs like?

They include group education, group counseling & individual counseling. First offense programs range from 12 hours/8+ weeks, to 63 hours/9months, depending on what the court sentences you to and what DMV requires you to do. Multiple offense programs are 77+ hours over an 18 month period. If youíre convicted of DUI and the court does not order you to complete a DUI program, DMV will usually require you to complete a program to get your license back. (Frequently, both agencies will require you to complete a program. If your court and DMV require you to do different DUI programs, ask the County's Drinking Driver Program for recommendations.)

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Do I have to pay for my program? How much are they?

Yes, unless the program determines that you are eligible for a waiver of the program fee. If you feel you canít afford the program fee, ask your DUI program for a fee assessment appointment. Theyíll schedule an appointment with you and tell you what income documentation to bring to the appointment. They will use that to determine if you are low-income by state standards, middle-income or high-income. Low-income clients receive a program fee waiver. For those who pay full fee, program fees are:

Wet Reckless Program*

$307

3-month First Offense Program

$714

6-month First Offense Program

$862

9-month First Offense Program

$1,075

Multiple Offense Program

$1,842

*The Wet Reckless Program is for a lesser offense than a DUI.


How do I get into a program?

You are generally ordered by a court or required by DMV to complete a program. 

Effective January 2, 2003: If you have referral paperwork take it to the appropriate program below.

First Offense AND Multiple Offense, all ages:

  • A.L.T.O Counseling Center
    740 Front St, Suite 130
    Santa Cruz, CA.  95060
    (831) 423-2003
    • First Offense and Multiple Offense DUI programs
    • English/Spanish

  • A.L.T.O Counseling Center
    18 Alexander St.
    Watsonville, CA. 95076
    (831) 728-2233
    • First Offense and Multiple Offense DUI programs
    • English/Spanish

  • Janus of Santa Cruz
    200 7th Ave., Suite 150
    Santa Cruz, CA. 95062
    (831) 462-5267
    • First Offense and Multiple Offense DUI programs
    • English/Spanish

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I got a DUI in one county, but I live in another county, where do I do the program?

You may do the program in whatever California county you choose. But you may only transfer between counties by following each countyís transfer instructions. If you are convicted in a Santa Cruz County court, effective January 2, 2003 you may transfer to another county by following any court instructions for doing a program outside of Santa Cruz County.

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After I lost my driverís license for a DUI is there any way I may drive legally until it is returned?

Both the court and Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may set standards for who is eligible for a "restricted" driverís license. Ask DMV if and when you are eligible for a restricted driverís license and how to get one. Be sure to give your driverís license number to DMV and have them answer you specific to your driving record. A restricted driverís license will only allow you to drive to and from work and to and from your DUI program. DMV may also issue an Ignition Interlock Device restricted license in some cases, which allows more extensive driving.

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Deferred Judgment Drug Program

Whatís the program for? Whatís it like?

Some people arrested for lower-level drug offenses, such as non-violent offenses and possession for personal use only, may be eligible to plead guilty, accept this program, complete the program and then have the charges dropped from their record. The district attorney determines a defendantís eligibility for the program. It is 22 hours of group education and group counseling, over a minimum of 10 weeks, and includes an assessment of a clientís alcohol and other drug use.

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I was ordered to do this program by a court in another California county but I live in Santa Cruz County. How do I get into a program in this county?

Call the agency in Santa Cruz County that offers the program: 

A.L.T.O. Counseling Center: 

  • Santa Cruz: (831) 427-5290

  • Watsonville: (831) 728-2233

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How much is the program?

The current fee for the program is $705. You may ask A.L.T.O. Counseling Center for a financial assessment to determine if youíre eligible for a sliding scale fee.

A.L.T.O. Counseling Center: 

  • Santa Cruz: (831) 427-5290

  • Watsonville: (831) 728-2233

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Friday Night Live Program

What is Friday Night Live?

Friday Night Live builds partnerships for positive and health youth development which engage youth as active leaders and resources in their communities. Chapters which consist of and adult advisor and youth meet on high school, middle school or junior high campuses. The High School Chapter Program is called Friday Night Live and the Middle/Junior High Program is Club Live. Friday Night Live supports youth in making healthy lifestyle choices free of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

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Who can join and how do I join?

Friday Night Live chapter meetings are open to all students. Chapter have several levels of involvement. Chapter Leadership Teams, which oversees the operation of the chapter, Chapter Members that attend regular meetings and assist in coordinating and implementing programs, and general members who attend functions sponsored by Friday Night Live or Club Live. Check in with the office staff to find out who your campus advisor is and contact the county coordinator: North County Ė Brenda Armstrong 454-5483, South County Ė Andrea Garcia 763-8298.

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What does a chapter do?

The Friday Night Live Partnership Programs have Standards of Practice that each chapter carries out. Friday Night Live/ Club Live program participants will: Experience a safe environment; have opportunities for involvement and connection to community and school; Opportunities for leadership and advocacy; Opportunities for meaningful skill building activities; Opportunities for caring and meaningful relationships among youth and with adults. Chapter does this through Community Service Projects, skill development and leadership training, participating in governance and policy making, and attaining knowledge of the issues, resources in their community.

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Who decides what a chapter does?

The youth in the chapter develop a mission, goals and timeline of activities that interest them to implement through out the year. They identify the training they wish to have, types of projects they wish to participate in. Because each chapter decides their own projects the individual chapter activities vary. Chapters also support national alcohol and drug awareness campaigns such as Red Ribbon Week.

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Does Friday Night Live do anything else?

Santa Cruz County Friday Night Live Partnerships works in con-junction with a variety of groups supporting alcohol and drug free events and programs such as First Night, Red Ribbon Day, and We Carnival. We also support Youth Coalition Santa Cruz, a Group of youth activists working to make positive changes in Santa Cruz County.

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Detention Youth Services

I stopped using. Why do I need treatment?

The problem is not stopping is staying off. You need to learn skills necessary in order to avoid returning to using. You also will need the support of others with the same objective in mind.

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Whatís the best treatment for me?

The best form of treatment will depend on the severity of your problem and the history in regard to past treatment. An assessment is made that looks at the frequency of use, the type of drug used, how you use the drug, and the length of time youíve been using. Other high-risk factors, such as home life, school performance, peer relationships and their influence are assessed. We will work with your Probation officer, parents, and other professional interested in your welfare to determine the best plan of action to foster your recovery.

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How soon can I get an interview for placement?

After your needs are assessed, the right placement for you is sought out. Whenever possible, itís good for you to play an active role in finding the service that meets your needs. How long this takes is dependent on the assessment process, the Court calendar, and treatment space availability.

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Can you get me into an in-county placement?

There are very few residential treatment centers in Santa Cruz County. Some male adolescents are placed at Palomares and Tyler House. Female adolescents may be placed at Tyler House. If you are in need of outpatient services you may go to Fenix Services, Youth Services, the PARK program or the GROW program. The decision must be made with your Probation officer.

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Am I a failure because I relapsed after getting help?

There really is no failure in recovery if you pick yourself up and learn from the relapse and get back on track with a program. Treatment providers welcome the return of someone who has relapsed, and see it as a strength, not a failure.

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Jail Transitions

My spouse/ son /daughter is in jail and needs a drug program. How can I get him/her into treatment?

Permission to enter a treatment program comes from the presiding judge. This decision is made during the hearing.

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How does the judge decide which treatment program I should attend?

A Jail Transition counselor will conduct an assessment of the clientís needs, by reviewing alcohol or other drug history and current patterns of use. Other risk factors, such as inadequate housing, lack of support systems, and unemployment are also assessed. A recommendation is made to the judge based on the results of the assessment interview.

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I exited the treatment program I was court-ordered to complete early, without staff permission. What do I do?

Call your probation officer IMMEDIATELY. The Santa Cruz Probation Departmentís phone number is (831) 454-2150. For Watsonville, the phone number is (831) 763-8070.

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How can I get a list of substance abuse treatment programs for California?

A list of local resources can be obtained in another part of this website. For statewide information go to www.adp.state.ca.us, or call 1-800-662-4357.

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Youth Treatment Coordination

How can I tell if my adolescent has a problem with alcohol or other drugs?

Sometimes it is tough to tell. Most adolescents won't walk up to their parents and ask for help. In fact, they will probably do everything possible to deny or hide the problem. But, there are certain warning signs that may indicate that your child may be abusing alcohol or drugs. The information you want to gather will cover several areas.

  • School: Does the adolescent bring home lower grades and seem to have developed a negative attitude towards school? Does he/she skip classes? Has he/she been suspended or expelled?
  • Dishonesty: Has the adolescent concealed drug usage and either denied or minimized it when discovered? Has he/she been caught stealing from parents or shoplifting? Dose he/she lie about friends and activities? The adolescent may resort to cheating at school and forging school excuses.
  • Personality Changes: Immaturity and withdrawal from family relationships are common. Has he/she changed friends, started using foul language, or begun lying about activities? Seclusiveness and avoidance of adults are common. Taste in music may change. Irritability and fits of anger or rage with little or no provocation are common. There is loss of motivation, lowering of ambition, loss of drive toward goals and no quest for excellence. The adolescent becomes selfish.
  • Family Relationships: Does the adolescent avoid being seen with parents or siblings and avoid family outings? Are household responsibilities and chores neglected? He/she may be argumentative or passive, the two extremes. Does he/she accuse parents of "hassling" or not trusting him/her? Is he/she very manipulative, striving to create conflict between parents?
  • Sexual Behavior: Promiscuity is common, with consequences of sexually transmitted disease (including Aids) or pregnancy.
  • Law Breaking: Traffic violations, vandalism, shoplifting, breaking and entering may occur.
  • Physical Appearance: Personal grooming and hygiene may deteriorate, speech and actions may be slowed. Gait and posture along with clothing and hairstyle may change. The adolescent may exhibit a lack of vitality with need for excessive sleep at unusual times. Eating habits may be altered and weight loss may occur.

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Drug Court

Who benefits from our services?

The entire community of Santa Cruz County benefits from the efforts of the Drug Court, including less jail over-crowding, fewer mental health hospitalizations, and fewer emergency room visits. As client attain sobriety, they become tax paying, productive members of our community

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Who are our clients?

Our clients are substance abusers who have entered the criminal justice system for offenses such as possession of controlled substances.

We do not service anyone with violent criminal records of anyone convicted of selling controlled substances.

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How does Drug Court work?

Perspective clients are referred by a Superior Court Judge for assessment. The assessment consists of a criminal background check and an interview with the Drug Court Case Manager.

Once accepted into the year-long Drug Court Program, the client participates in daily counseling, is randomly drug tested three times per week and goes before the judge for a weekly review of progress. In addition, the client must show proof of attendance at 12-step meetings. As the client progresses the intensity of treatment is lessened.

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Who qualifies for the program?

Non-violent offenders with current substance abuse problems that have been charged with under the influence or possession of controlled substances. No previous sales convictions, no weapons convictions or residential burglary convictions are permitted.

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How long is the program?

The current program is a minimum of one year, in three four-month phases with aftercare available after completion.

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What are the requirements of the program?

At the onset of the program, participants are required to attend three counseling groups and one education group per week at the treatment provider location. Attendance is mandatory at a minimum of four 12-step meetings in the community weekly. Court appearances are required as mandated by the presiding judge. There is also random urinalysis throughout the program. Each of these requirements is adjusted in accordance with the participantís progress.

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How much does the program cost?

The fee for the program is $15.00 per week. The fees must be paid in a timely manner to avoid delays in phase progression.

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What happens to the original charge(s)?

If the participant successfully completes the program, the District Attorney will dismiss the primary case which was referred to Drug Court. Any other pending legal matters or probation issues will be discussed with the participant.

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What could lead to termination from the program?

Failure to comply with program structure and violent or hostile behavior could result in termination. Continued use of mood or mind-altering substances, including some prescription drugs, will result in termination. Forging of 12-step meeting attendance slips or a new driving under the influence charge will also result in termination.

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CalWORKs Case Management

If I admit that I have an alcohol or drug problem will my children be taken from me?

No, your children will not be removed from your home unless there is evidence of neglect or endangerment.

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Will I be denied cash aid if I admit to an alcohol or drug problem?

No, your cash aid will not be denied unless you are convicted of a felony.

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How much will I have to pay for substance abuse treatment?

CalWORKs will pay for your treatment in outpatient and residential programs.

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If I have to go to a residential treatment program, what will happen to my children?

Your children will be taken care of while you are in residential treatment. Your input will be important when deciding where your children will live temporarily. It is preferable that you select a family member who can care for them. If you do not have a family member or friend who can, your CPS Worker can assist you with a "voluntary placement" process, that entails temporarily giving up custody of your children until you have successfully completed your program.

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Will transportation or childcare be provided help me to get to treatment?

CalWORKs may provide you with up to $40 extra each month as a transportation allowance to attend treatment or any other approved activity in your "welfare to work" plan. Childcare can also be arranged.

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Do you have Spanish speaking staff?

Yes, there are Spanish speaking staff in CalWORKs and many of the treatment programs to which you could be referred.

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     County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency 1080 Emeline Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
     Phone: 831 454 4000 Fax: 831 454 4770 Hearing Impaired TDD: 831 454 2123
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