AUSTIN (KXAN) — Over the last five years, the Austin Travis County Sobering Center has helped about 9,000 people.
The 24-hour, seven-day-a-week center helps people with drug or alcohol addictions, as well as people who might get a little too rowdy downtown.
“This is my passion and I am so grateful for the sobering center,” Sobering Center worker Patricia Williams Griffin said.
Williams Griffin said it’s a special place to work, especially since she knows what her clients are going through.
“I have been right where you (clients) are at,” Williams Griffin said. “Homeless, no hope, no home, no place to go, out there on the streets struggling with drugs and alcohol.”
She’s happy to talk to people who show up and let them know there is hope, but people suffering from addiction aren’t the only clients.
“There are really a variety of reasons why people end up here and a variety of outcomes when they leave,” Ashlyn Branscum, who also works at the Sobering Center, said.
The center prides itself on keeping people out of jail.
“They opened the sobering center to divert and take pressure off of the jail, EMS and hospitals,” Sobering Center Specialist Hillary Harris said.
About 70% of clients are first-time visitors, Harris said.
“And then the other 30-40% are what we would consider our high-risk clients,” Harris said. “They are more acute. Maybe they struggled with addiction for years.”
The center partners with about 70 groups and has placed about 200 people in treatment.
“If you ended up here, your night did not go exactly as planned,” Branscum said. “So how do we keep that from happening again, and how do we keep you safe, and how do we make sure you are using responsibly or getting connected to the resources you need.”
Williams Griffin said, for those who are struggling with addiction, she lets them know there is hope.
“I tell them all the time, you made the right step,” Williams Griffin said.
Clients must be referred to the center through community partners.
The Sobering Center is celebrating its five-year anniversary on Friday Oct. 13th. They will be hosting an event at “Sans Bar” on Congress Avenue an alcohol-free bar.