Pierce College addiction studies students to honor Dr James Crossen at Graduation

Graduating students from the Pierce College Addiction Studies program will gather in the Great Hall May 27 to receive their diplomas and honor a professor they have all grew to love James Crossen.

The Addiction Studies Program is a clinical psychology program with a philosophy to de-pathologize individuals struggling with co-occurring disorders, and to provide an in-depth understanding of the impact of diverse addictions on the individual, family, and community.

The program prepares students to effectively address the trauma from which many individuals struggling with addiction suffer, which can include domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, sexual abuse, and dislocation. Students learn to become advocates for healing and transformation, employing prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies utilizing strengths-based perspectives and evidence-based practices.

Upon completing the addiction studies program at Pierce, students are certified to be Chemical Dependency Specialists and may adopt the informal title CDS. They must complete a minimum of 36 units in the program and have 100 hours of field work.

Students must also demonstrate complete understanding of a 12-step program for recovery and demonstrate what the program calls the three C’s: competence, charisma and commitment.

Paul Karlbon, who has been to prison three times for selling drugs, is now graduating from the addiction studies program and aspires to be a drug addiction counselor.

He said it has been hard for him to get a job with his criminal record, but he knew he could prove that he had really made a change in his life by pursuing addiction studies.

“When I got out of prison, I felt I had a chance to turn my life around,” Karlbon said. “I want to clean up my record and give back to the community.”

“I’d say about 80 percent of students in the program have had addictions of some kind,” said Judy Davis, an instructor in the program and a licensed marriage and family therapist.

The ceremony will also honor  Dr.James Crossen, as he retired last June and also passed away this past April from Pneumonia. He was 80.

Crossen was a pioneer in his field, and created the Addictions Study Program Jan 15 1976 at the Medical Center of North Hollywood where he taught a class. He brought the program to Los Angeles Mission College in 1990 before coming to Pierce in 1999.

Though he has a doctorate in psychology, he dedicated himself to the field of addiction studies, partly due to his personal experience.

He wanted “to be of loving service,” distinguished from those who pursue money, prestige and power.

Crossen was presented last spring  with a lifetime achievement award by LA city councilmember Richard Alarcon.