Frank Boudewyns, founder and CEO of Alternatives Inc., the leading psychiatric and chemical dependency program for the GLBT community, died due to complications of hepatitis C on October 26 in Palm Springs. He was 56.
A native of Minnesota, Boudewyns was a crusader in the war to reduce substance abuse among gays and lesbians, and his passion for his work was a testament to his 30 years of sobriety. In 1973, Boudewyns and his partner, Michael Ralke, began as grassroots organizers of the state-funded Christopher Street treatment center in Minneapolis. They created a program that addressed not only the physical and psychological aspects of chemical dependency but also offered a sober environment in which gay men and lesbians could begin to redefine themselves socially. This two-year experiment provided needed help to several hundred patients and created a pool of talent, which is still active in recovery and social service organizations nationwide.
After moving to California in the late 1970s, Boudewyns and Ralke continued their community-based work at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center's Alcohol Dependency Program and other social service centers. In 1983 they helped create a chemical dependency clinic at Los Angeles Midway Hospital with Summit Health Corporation. By 1987, the parallel epidemics of AIDS and addiction in the gay community led to the formation of a multifaceted treatment team consisting of HIV, mental health, and chemical dependency specialists. This effort led to the opening of their first residential gay and lesbian recovery center in Los Angeles's Silver Lake district.
In 1993, as a result of their national prominence in the treatment of gays and lesbians, Boudewyns and Ralke, along with other associates, established the first national company to address the complete range of mental and physical health issues for gay men and lesbians struggling with chemical dependency and psychiatric problems. Alternatives Inc. continues to carry on Boudewyns's commitment to the highest-quality comprehensive treatment through its national program.