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The Sobering Center opens new dorm for clients recovering from stimulant use

The Sobering Center said it hopes staff will be able to provide the best possible care in a more fitting environment.

AUSTIN, Texas — After three years of service, the Austin-Travis County Sobering Center is changing things up.

Since it was launched, The Sobering Center has served as a place for local first responders to transfer low-risk intoxicated people who would otherwise be taken to jail or a hospital to sober up. Until recently, admits were separated by gender and allowed to "sleep off" their intoxication. Admits were then released when they were coherent and sober enough to walk out safely. 

According to the center, Executive Director Laura Elmore had a broader vision for how the center could become a true bridge to recovery for those in need. 

"What once was a safe sobering place is now also where someone can access a transfer and bed for addiction treatment," the center said. "When it comes to recovering from addiction, timing is everything, and there’s no better time than coming down off of drugs and/or alcohol."

WATCH: Inside Austin's Sobering Center

“People who have committed robberies or burglaries and things like that, they will tell you that it's out of desperation for more drugs. If someone could have intervened at the point that they're clearly a threat to themselves, or to others, and they could be in a space where they could safely sober up and not lose their minds, it would make all the difference," said Doug Smith, a founding board member of the center.

Part of this shift includes providing an appropriate environment for clients based on what kind of intoxication they are dealing with. Someone using a depressant, like alcohol or opiates, will likely need things like beds and an opportunity to sleep. Someone using stimulants, on the other hand, will have more energy and might be looking for ways to engage.

To address those differing needs, The Sobering Center has launched a fully dedicated space for clients who are coming down off of stimulants and need a safe space. The new stimulant dorm includes things like crafts, bean bags, televisions and other tactile activities.

The center said that it hopes the change will help staff better meet clients where they are and allow staff to provide the best possible care in a more fitting environment.


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