In the early 1970’s, a group of dedicated men and women recognized the importance of investigating adolescent drug and alcohol use and the associated factors that negatively affect a healthy family lifestyle. Based on preliminary observations, the volunteers conducted an extensive survey of the level and frequency of drug and alcohol use among high school age youth in Inglewood, Centinela Valley and Redondo Beach Unified School districts of Los Angeles County. The intent was to discover the circumstances affecting use, and if a problem existed to assess where assistance was available to meet the challenge. These data identified a community need providing the group the evidence needed to apply for a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Initiation and Development grant with which the volunteer contingent transitioned to a professional service organization with a definable mission and structure.

Originally incorporated as the Centinela Valley Drug Abuse Coalition in 1973, the agency offered outpatient substance use disorder (SUD) counseling in Inglewood, through a State-funded, County-administered contract. By 1974, the Coalition emerged as a leader in the drug/alcohol treatment community. To meet the growing need for developing innovative services for drug problems the program expanded with a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) grant. The initial outpatient services for SUD were supplemented with outpatient services for alcoholics, residential care for SUD patients and social model detoxification for alcoholics. The organization was officially renamed Behavioral Health Services, Inc. (BHS) on May 23, 1975 to reflect the broader range of services offered.

Throughout the years, BHS has been awarded numerous contracts for substance abuse services through the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health – Division of Substance Abuse Prevention and Control. BHS now provides services from 26 locations encompassing 3 inpatient withdrawal management programs, 1 sobering center, 5 residential and 10 outpatient SUD treatment programs, 8 primary medical clinics, 3 outpatient mental health clinics, 1 mobile medical clinic providing both physical and behavioral health services, 4 recovery bridge housing programs, and 1 transitional housing program for HIV-positive women. An extensive, comprehensive network has been built upon which services could be broadened and tailored to meet ever-changing community needs. Today, the agency’s vision is “a comprehensive system of human services available and affordable to all through our model programs and a coalition of community partners.”

Realizing the diversity throughout Los Angeles and the need to address the unique needs of various populations, BHS augmented services to include special programs such as: persons with first offense driving under the influence (DUI) convictions; persons addicted to heroin and other opiates; pregnant and postpartum women; persons dually diagnosed with substance abuse and mental health problems; persons with HIV and AIDS; prison parolees; youth and adolescents; batterers and victims of domestic violence; recipients of Medi-Cal, CalWORKS and General Relief (GR).

The success of BHS over the past 50 years has been demonstrated by numerous awards and formal recognition, through continued and sustained funding of services, and through its continuous accreditation since 2000 by CARF, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. However, the most significant signs of success are the outcomes of its patients. Today, systems are in place at BHS to measure the clinical outcomes of patients and their satisfaction with services. Patients are involved in their care and recovery from intake through participation in graduation and alumni activities. Its extensive network of service sites and specialized service delivery systems, distinguishes Behavioral Health Services as a community based, integrated healthcare provider, offering a full range of effective and comprehensive services from primary medical care, SUD and mental health prevention and treatment and recovery, to maintenance of quality of life and productivity in the community. BHS transforms lives by providing hope and opportunities for recovery, wellness, and independence.