The Association of Alcoholism and Addiction Programs (AAP) grew out of the ad hoc committee called “Eastern Washington Alcoholism Programs,” which first met in Wenatchee on July 26, 1973, with directors of 10 Eastern Washington alcohol programs present. Major issues at that time included implementing the Uniform Alcoholism and Intoxication Act and health care policies at DSHS which required public patients go to the first available bed rather that the most clinically appropriate facility.

This ad hoc group continued to meet and began to formalize into a corporation in December of 1976, when it adopted the name “Washington State Alcoholism Program Association” and appointed George DaFoe of Okanogan County Alcoholism Program and Peggy Gulick, Director of Klickitat County Alcoholism Center as co-chairpersons. Among the founding members were Linda Grant (Kittitas County CAC), Herb West (Yakima County Alcoholism Programs), Merrill Scott (Sundown M Ranch), Jenny Bixler and Patsy Anna Wilde (Benton County CAC), Diane Anderson (Community Personal Guidance Center – Spokane), Virgil Meyer (Lincoln County CAC), Alan Hanks (Adams County CAC), Eric Smeltz, and the directors of Walla Walla CAC and Yakima Valley Council on Alcoholism.

In 1977 the Association completed the first survey of salary and benefits of chemical dependency program employees in Washington State. By August 1978, the Association incorporated as the Association of Alcoholism Program Directors, with membership from programs all around the state to provide personal and professional development for program directors, advocate for treatment, the alcoholic and family members, and to provide a mechanism to share mutual concerns and problems and take united action. Revis Smith of Grays Harbor County Community Alcohol Center became the first president of the Association.

The firm of Barbara Vanderkolk and Associates was hired in 1980 to assist the AAP in expanding health care coverage to include outpatient and family chemical dependency treatment. Legislation was not successful, but a dialogue with the Insurance Commissioner’s Office was started which eventually culminated in the adoption of health plan regulations defining acceptable minimum benefits.

In 1981 the Association hired a full-time Executive Director, responsible for lobbying and governmental relations as well as carrying out the administrative functions of the organization. In 2002 the Association moved from full-time staffing to place its resources in professional contracts, including professional lobbying support.

The membership meets on the third Friday of each month to establish the policy and positions of the organization, discuss common issues, and establish action strategies. The organizational members recommend serve as a committee of the whole to recommend legislative and public policy positions.