People with drug and alcohol addictions in East Baton Rouge Parish have a new place to go for detoxification.
The Baton Rouge Area Alcohol and Drug Center, also known as the detox center, is opening a second location, on South Foster Drive, to some patients on Monday. Administrators hope the new center will gradually reduce the Florida Boulevard facility’s enormous wait list, which fluctuates around 500 people.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Lisa Bailey, the center’s director, noting how the nonprofit has tried for years to find the funds and location for a new facility.
The detox center’s new home used to be a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic. Baton Rouge Area Alcohol and Drug Center Inc. purchased the building for $1.6 million and spent about $700,000 renovating it, Bailey said.
In December, the detox center received its license from the state Department of Health and Hospitals to operate the new facility, paving the way for this week’s opening.
The building, located across the street from Baton Rouge Community College at 216 S. Foster Drive, is more than four times larger — at roughly 37,000 square feet — than the Florida Boulevard location. The South Foster Drive space has room for 48 beds, which will complement the 29 available at the Florida Boulevard location, Bailey said.
All the beds likely will not be available immediately as the new detox center steadies its footing, Bailey said.
The new space will be outfitted with more single- and double-occupancy rooms, compared to the “dorm-style” offerings at the Florida Boulevard facility. It also will have a larger recreation area, with plans for foosball and air hockey tables, Bailey said.
The new facility generally will offer the same services as the Florida Boulevard one. Detoxification usually takes between three and seven days, although some patients stay for up to 28 days.
Bailey said the detox center plans to move its outpatient services from the Florida Boulevard facility to the new location. There also are plans to open a “sobering” unit at the new location if additional funding can be secured, Bailey said.
“We’d give them Gatorade and crackers and a mattress to sleep it off on,” Bailey said. “That’s versus them taking up a hospital bed, or an emergency room bed or going to jail.”
The director described the need for the new facility as “critical,” especially considering the detox center’s burdensome wait list. The nonprofit prioritizes admitting pregnant women and intravenous drug users.
Those who use drugs and commit crimes while awaiting treatment often harm themselves while also hurting the community, Bailey said, meaning the more people they can treat, the better — for everyone.
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