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St. Johns County is the largest county in Florida without a detox center

7:11 PM, Apr 8, 2013   |    comments
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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- Patrick Morrissey owns Gypsy Cab Company, a St. Augustine landmark.

"I like it," he said, "It's fun to be with people."

However, the life of a restaurateur was not on the horizon when he was younger.

"I drank until I blacked out every day," he recalled.

He said the only thing he thought about was how to get his next drink.

"I ended up living on the street when I was 21 or 22 years old, and I wondered how to have a better life. I didn't know," Morrissey remembered.

He eventually went to a detox center in the 1980's when there was a detox center in St. Johns County, and he got sober.

If not for that detox center, Morrissey said, "I probably would be dead, probably wouldn't be here right now."

In the late 1980's that detox center in St. Johns County named Twin Oaks closed. The county has been without one ever since.

"We're the largest county in Florida without a detox center," Patti Greenough stated. She's the executive director of EPIC Behavioral Healthcare. EPIC is proposing a detox center that the non-profit organization would run.

"It would be a 12 bed, detox facility open 24/7 for people to access right in their own community," Greenough described. "We're looking for a building with 8,000 square feet."

Greenough said while St. Johns County was ranked as the healthiest county in Florida, it's also ranked fourth when it comes to adult binge drinking.

She said currently the de-facto detox center in the county is the jail or the emergency room at Flagler Hospital.

"We're currently in the senate budget for $1.3 million for operating the center. We are not in the house budget," she noted.

She said a detox center change people's lives, and Morrissey agrees. He's thankful for the help which took him from a drunk on the streets to a man with a respectable restaurant business.

"That's why there is such a need for a detox facility here," Morrissey said. "It's to try to get people to understand they can't do this alone. They do need help and we can provide the help. We're a community of helping people."

For more stories from Jessica Clark follow Jessica on Twitter at @JessicaFCN or Like her on Facebook.


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