Scheduled Opening Summer 2018
1213 Sabine Street, Austin, TX

Mission

The Sobering Center provides a safe environment for publicly intoxicated individuals to sober up and, when appropriate, initiate recovery. It aims to enhance public health and public safety by providing an alternative to the emergency room and jail.

Who It’s For

The Sobering Center is for persons who meet the legal definition of intoxication. Individuals may only be referred and transported to the facility by law enforcement or emergency medical services. It is not a place where friends or family members can bring someone to sober up.

ANTICIPATED USERS

75%

ONE-TIME USERS
  • College students
  • Convention goers
  • Festival attendees

25%

REPEAT USERS
  • People with chronic substance use problems, many of whom are homeless and unemployed
  • People with substance use disorder who have other critical health care needs and mental health diagnoses

Why We Need It

Binge drinking is worse in Austin than in other cities.

In 2012 Austin was named the 5th Drunkest City in the nation. The prevalence of binge drinking amongst Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area adults has been consistently and notably higher than Texas and U.S. binge drinking averages (see chart below), according to Texas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data.

BINGE DRINKING AMONG ADULTS
Austin MSA

17.3%

Dallas MSA13.9%
Houston MSA14.9%
Texas14.6%
US14.7%
SOURCE: CENTER FOR HEALTH (CHS) STATISTICS TEXAS BEHAVIORAL RISK FACTOR SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM SURVEY DATA, 2010. AUSTIN, TEXAS: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES

Binge drinking can lead to public intoxication and that’s expensive — for everyone!

Furthermore, arresting and caring for people who become Publicly Intoxicated doesn't allow them to get the treatment referrals that could help them avoid public intoxication in the future and increase their quality of life.

Public Intoxication leads people to the criminal justice system. The Sobering Center can help avoid that path.

Transporting individuals to the Sobering Center takes much less time than arresting a person. It's anticipated that because of this, the number of bookings for public intoxication will drop. Current statistics indicate more than 2,000 bookings for public intoxication every year in Travis County. Additionally, many in law enforcement prefer a non-punitive solution to the problem.

THE COST OF PUBLIC INTOXICATION
Emergency Room

$1,400

per visit (average)
EMS Transport

$876

per transport
Jail Booking

$152

 
Officer Time

$55-97

per booking
The Sobering Center will have an officer back in the community policing in less than an hour where arresting, transporting and report writing can take hours away from their shift. Reducing the number of P.I. arrests could result in a potential saving of $145,795 - $258,893 per year based on 2016 bookings of 2,669.

Drug and alcohol dependence is a serious public health issue

At the Sobering Center an individual can learn about options for recovery from alcohol and drug dependence or addiction.

What is Binge Drinking?

  • For men, 5 or more drinks consumed on one occasion.
  • For women 4 or more drinks consumed on one occasion.

DRINKING TOO MUCH CONTRIBUTES TO INJURIES AND DISEASES, INCLUDING:

  • Unintentional injuries (e.g., car crashes, falls, burns, drowning)
  • Intentional injuries (e.g., rearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence)
  • Alcohol poisoning; HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
  • Cardiovascular, liver, diabetes diseases

BINGE DRINKING KILLS:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States accounting for an estimated average of 80,000 deaths and 2.3 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) during 2001—2005.
  • Binge drinking accounted for more than half of the excessive alcohol consumption deaths and two thirds of the YPLL.

LEARN MORE:

https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/pdfs/ alcoholyourhealth.pdf

How It Helps

For Individuals:

  • Provides a safe place to sober up
  • Prevents a criminal record for first time offenders
  • Offers Peer counseling
  • Provides referrals for treatment

For City/County services:

  • Frees up police to return patrol to handle more serious offenses
  • Reduces crowding in jails and wait time for officers booking other offenders
  • Reduces utilization of Emergency Rooms
  • Saves booking costs: In 2016, there were 2,669 bookings for Public Intoxication for a total cost of $400,350
(BASED ON AN ESTIMATE OF $150 PER BOOKING)

Location

1213 Sabine Street, Austin, TX
(Starting late Spring 2018)

The Sobering Center will be located in the building that currently houses the Office of the Medical Examiner of Travis County. It’s centrally located and in close proximity to medical and psychiatric services, as well as public transportation. The Center is near a medical complex in a non-residential area. It’s also outside of zones where there are high numbers of drug or alcohol-related crimes.

1213 SABINE, CURRENTLY THE OFFICE OF THE MEDICAL EXAMINER