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Mary Ruiz is the president and CEO of Manatee Glens, a nonprofit organization specializing in mental health and addictions.
East County Wednesday, Jul. 11, 2012 5 years ago

My View: New hope for addictions

by: Mary Ruiz

In 2005, Angela (we’ll use first names to protect privacy) was in a serious automobile accident. She was sent to a pain-management clinic where she was prescribed numerous pain killers —opiates — as well as muscle relaxers and sleeping medication.

“About six months later it became unmanageable, and I couldn’t function in daily life,” she told me.

It started as a medical issue and became a problem of addiction. Over the past few years, Angela went to several detox centers and treatment facilities, but they didn’t work for her. It wasn’t until she came to Manatee Glens that she realized she was an addict.

For Lisa, drinking was a social thing when she was in her 20s, then it became a daily occurrence in her 30s. When she reached 40, it was out of her control. The tragedy of the 9/11 attacks propelled her over the edge.

“I had been in New York City for my birthday Sept. 9. I left Sept. 10. One of my friends was killed in the World Trade Center.” That was the end.

She lost her friends, her good job, her nice lifestyle and her home. Her family wouldn’t send her money anymore.

“I felt like there was no hope. I had given up,” said Lisa. “I really didn’t want to understand addiction. And I had to hit bottom and become homeless in order to ask for help.”

“I hit rock-bottom when I had an accidental overdose and my heart flat-lined,” remembered Angela. “I realized that my only options were jail, institutions or death.”

She chose life.

It’s important to note that neither Angela nor Lisa woke up one morning and said, “I think I’ll be an addict
or an alcoholic.” What we teach at Manatee Glens is that addiction is a problem of the wiring of the brain. Like diabetes, it is a chronic disease that has no cure.

“It’s not my fault. I have to live with this the rest of my life, and that’s something I wouldn’t wish on anyone,” added Angela.

“I thought I was weak because I couldn’t just stop drinking,” explained Lisa. “Manatee Glens gave me the tools so that when I leave here I will be able to cope.”

At Manatee Glens, we believe the client and loved ones should be at the center of care. We treat the whole family. Often, family members inadvertently contribute to the people who have alcoholism. We recommend groups such as Al-Anon to help the family be a part of the recovery process.

Manatee Glens provides inpatient and outpatient detox and treatment. Not everyone needs inpatient services. It’s a matter of talking with a counselor to find what works for the client.

Because of the services of Manatee Glens, wonderful people like Angela and Lisa have the opportunity to become productive members of our community who are involved and engaged. They have hope where before there was only darkness.

As Lisa stated, “Manatee Glens saved my life.”

Mary Ruiz is the president and CEO of Manatee Glens, a nonprofit organization specializing in mental health and addictions.

1.The prescription pain-pill epidemic has fueled a 78% increase in indigent detox admissions at Manatee Glens in the last three years

The economic downturn resulted in the loss of health insurance for many Manatee County families resulting in increased indigent Adult Baker Act admissions of 13.7% and child indigent days of 26.5% in the last three years at Manatee Glens

 Manatee Glens stepped up to the need by:
A. Accepting 2,300 cases a year from law enforcement as a diversion to jail;
B. Accepting more than 400 transfers from hospital emergency rooms to help reduce hospital indigent care;
C. Assisting in reducing the jail census from more than 1,300 a day to less than 1,100 a day;
D. Assisting in holding down the census at the Juvenile Detention Center.


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