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