ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – After years without one, St. Johns County finally has a detoxification center to help those struggling with addiction.
Polly Andrews knows the importance of a detox center. Her father was an alcoholic.
"He'd always drink to the point he would pass out," she recalled. She said he would often disappeared while drinking.
"I remember getting a call from the police to 'come get your dad,'" she said.
The police suggested he go to a detox center. He did. However, that's when there was a facility in St. Augustine.
In the late 1980's, the detox center closed.
St. Johns County became the largest county in Florida without a detox center.
Wednesday, that changed.
A new detox center had its grand opening. It's the EPIC Recovery Center.
It's a 24-hour, 7 days a week, 16-bed facility with an outpatient clinic located on U.S. 1 South in St. Augustine. EPIC Behavioral Health will operate the center. EPIC has been working without a detox center for years.
Patti Greenough with EPIC said the need is great in St. Johns County.
"We served 6,000 people last year and there's probably 15,000 people that need help in this community," Greenough stated. "And that's just based on statistics from 3-4 years ago. So you'd have to increase that because our population has increased."
The legislature provided more than $1 million dollars for the facility, and the community stepped up to pay for the rest. Money came from entities such as the county, Flagler Hospital, and the National Guard. Private individuals also donated, to help pay for rooms or items such as TV's.
Many addicts in St. Johns County ended-up in the de-facto detox centers, which were Flagler Hospital or the jail. St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar said he has lobbied for a detox center for 15 years.
"It'll give our deputies another tool, an option," Shoar explained. "Because a lot of the people who wind up in jails today really need to be in a detoxification center or a mental health treatment center."
Andrews' father needed a detox center all those years ago.
"Things turned out so much better for our family because of him not drinking," Andrews smiled.
Her dad never drank again after going through detox. "He was more able to be involved and be a positive impact on our lives."
Andrews believes this new detox center will help other families, just like hers.
"The EPIC Recovery Center is going to be exactly what St. Augustine needs," she said.
The facility will take patients starting next week.