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What’s the Deal With This New Sobering Center?

Ed just left the ER. This was his second trip there today. In the past six months, Ed has been to the hospital over 20 times.

Ed’s an alcoholic. His constant drunken state leads to a frequent need for medical attention. His visits, along with many others in similar circumstances, cost the city of Los Angeles a lot of money and resources each year. Often, Ed doesn’t need emergency medical help, but is drunk enough to potentially endanger himself or require some assistance. As a result, he often ends up at the hospital or in jail.

Is There A Better Way?

Los Angeles County officials say yes, there is. Their solution is the new “Sobering Center” recently approved and projected to open in fall of 2016.

Similar centers are already up and running in San Antonio and Portland. The goal of these centers is to provide a place for intoxicated individuals to go, other than a hospital bed or jail cell. This will be an alternative drop-off point for Los Angeles emergency workers to take dangerously drunk people. The hope’s to prevent them from getting arrested or requiring emergency medical attention.

Clinicians, substance abuse counselors and a nurse practitioner will man the center. The design is for very short-term visits, with patients staying between eight and 23 hours…just long enough to sober up. When they leave, patients will be provided with referrals for additional treatment and housing programs. The center will be equipped to serve around 40 to 50 patients at a time. It could help as many as 8,000 patients each year.

A Healthy Investment

The costs to operate the center will run about $3.4 million annually. Initial launch costs will be about $2 million. City officials believe it will be well worth these costs, plus it will lighten the burden on law enforcement and medical facilities.

With a location in the heart of skid row, the Sobering Center offers a hopeful alternative not currently in existence for addicted people in the area. With a safe haven where they can receive minor treatment and sleep it off, those with a drinking problem will be less likely to face incarceration and medical emergencies. Their future will hold more opportunities due to cleaner medical and legal records.

With millions now struggling to overcome addictions and unhealthy dependencies, new recovery resources are generally met with open arms. If LA’s new Sobering Center proves successful in helping people who are struggling with alcoholism by providing individualized attention, obtaining life-saving resources and getting back on their feet faster…it’s a win-win situation.

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