Monday, April 24, 2006

A Barbeque Visit to Detox: By Peter S. Lopez

A Barbeque Visit to Detox: By Peter S. Lopez
Monday, April 24, 2006

     Yesterday, a Sunday, I went to a great barbeque at Detox.  The Comprehensive Alcoholism Treatment Center {aka CATC} is formerly known as the Inebriate Reception Center and called simply Detox by those ‘in the know’. It is operated by the Volunteers of America (VOA) in a big building at 700 North 5th Street near downtown Sacramento in an industrial-zoned area.

     Detox is a 72-hour detention facility for public inebriates determined to be a danger to themselves and/or others and gravely disabled as a result of alcohol consumption as classified by the Welfare and Institutions Code 5170. The facility offers detoxification, treatment, and evaluation services for inebriates of Sacramento County.

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     California Penal Code Section 647 (f) provides that it is illegal to be in any public place under the influence of intoxicating liquor (or combination of liquor and drugs), in such a condition that one is unable to exercise care for one’s own safety or the safety of others. Thus, a police officer can place the arrestee in "civil protective custody" for 72-hours at Detox.

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     In my Christian Ministry, I work with a progressive Christian recovery group called CASA {Christians Against Substance Addiction} and have done so for several years now. We have open weekly meetings every Sunday at 7 PM at the Salvation Army ‘Center of Hope’ Homeless Shelter by the corner of 1200 North ‘B’ Street. I Sponsor a few people and have Sponsees. I believe a good Sponsor should also be a friend to those he sponsors. Thus, my ‘friend’ Ben invited me to a barbeque at Detox in the 700 Club.

     One approaches Detox from the rear by a small little park. Walk up to the high cyclone fence, push the red button on the upper left and the Monitor at the desk will ask the purpose of your visit via a little speaker box. When I did so I told him that I was there for the barbeque and the electronic magnet gate buzzed open.

     In the front reception area there is a large front desk area with a waist high large two-sided cubicle around it. Behind that area are cabinets and other office equipment. To the left right after you walk in, is the Women’s Dorm, then, next to it the general Shower area.

     New incoming clients are given an alcohol-analyzer test and their alcohol level is recorded . One must read a certain level of alcohol to be admitted into the facility. Clients are then escorted to the shower area, strip their clothes off, shower, and are given blue Smurf–type loose fitting pajamas to wear during their stay.

     ID, wallet and other valuables are listed, put in a separate large folder then placed in safekeeping. After they are washed and dried, personal clothing and other stuff are put into a separate large laundry plastic box in storage. No cells phones and other personal amenities are allowed to be in their possession.

     Around the front desk are two small holding cells with locks on them with small windows for clients who are brought in, uncooperative and get rowdy, then, the Sheriffs Department can be called back to take them to the cold cruel County Jail downtown.

     To the left at this point there is a large dining area.  Then, to the right, there is a large TV room for regular male clients. Behind this area are two large dorms with rows of plain bunks, bedding and where clients can sleep it off after a drunken binge.

     The 700 Club is just pass this area and is a large rehab-recovery dorm with a fenced-in backyard area. In the front room there is a large big screen TV, couches, chairs, a card table and bookshelves with recovery materials and other books, including Holy Bibles. By here are two large comfortable dorms that hold a couple of dozen bunks with individual lockers for clients. Nearby is a large restroom and shower area. It is a clean and sober area.

     As a rule, if a client is sincerely interested in his recovery from alcohol addiction and room is available he can go into the 700 Club, not the popular TV-Christian 700 Club! New members are first put on a 30-day blackout where they have to stay ‘in house’. If they have a medical or business appointment they can go with a sober fellow-client on the ‘buddy system’. 700 Club Members can stay there around three months. While there are working on their continued recovery program, securing other housing options or have other exit plans for a sane and sober future.

     At the 700 Club Barbeque we had a great spread of venison, steak, hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, chips and lots of soda. Afterwards, we had some great ice cream. I was stuffed and ready for my own siesta, but we had a CASA Meeting to go to at 7 PM. It was a real blessing to be there. It was great to witness the brothers respecting each other, interacting together and the beauty of the brotherhood.

     A few years ago, I worked at Detox myself for about a year. I enjoyed working with the clients and trying to help them. However, I gradually strayed away from my own personal recovery program and got back into drinking booze after working hours. One time I missed about half of the pay period behind my boozing. The Director of CATC and Pastor Clent Arby must have known I had slipped back into my alcoholism. He called me into his office and I was let go after missing so many days.  I actually thanked him for firing me and waking me up to my creepy cunning alcoholism. We prayed together before I left in shame.

     To be ignorant is simply not to know any better. To be stupid is to know and not act in accordance with one’s knowledge. It is a small miracle I was never picked up and brought into Detox years ago. Today I am proud to say that I have ONE YEAR AND TEN MONTHS OF SOBER PROGRESSIVE RECOVERY. As corny as it sounds, I do it one day at a time with eyes for the future.

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