WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 27, 2010, 02:21 PM

Number of people needing detox continues to grow

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - There is an alarming trend at the Detox Centre in Fargo. Since the site opened in 2003, the number of people needing its services has more than tripled. Now it is at 3-thousand people a year. The center has had to adjust to this growing number.

By: Christina Vaughn, WDAY

This is where people have been coming to "sleep it off" for the past two years. Cement walls and floors, and a small thin mattress. The Detox Centre moved here in 2008, when it outgrew the old north side location.

“We've had to go from a single staff to a double staff. So the expenses have obviously gone up to operate the program.”

The center bills the city 80 dollars for every visitor who stays the night. Max capacity is 19 at a time and sometimes, there's no vacancy. Detox numbers have gone up 300 percent over the past seven years, but this year they're starting to level off.

“The answer shouldn't always be to take them to detox. It needs to be what is best for the person there and what's best for the community.”

30 percent of the people who visit detox are considered homeless. Fargo Police say the homeless population in town is growing, due to city expansion and the economic downturn. They say alternatives like the Cooper House, apartment style housing for those battling alcohol problems, is key to keeping detox numbers down.

“We don't want that revolving door. We don't want to be constantly serving the same people over and over again. Just sending them to detox, they go to bed, they wake up, they leave detox, and they continue to drink. We end up in the same spot the next night.”

While there is a slight improvement in numbers, the center's director doesn't know if it'll last.

“I think it's too short of a time frame so far to demonstrate whether this will continue to move in that direction.”

But it's a trend he hopes to see continue. Most of the people who are brought to detox are from Fargo, but if they are from surrounding cities the centre does not bill Fargo.