By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s been a dramatic increase in the number of drug related overdose deaths in the Philadelphia region. Friday the city opened a much needed rehab center.
“Not in my neighborhood,” that’s what you usually hear about drug clinics. Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health worked for years with the community to overcome stigmas and prove that they can be good for business.
Tom Qualters is happy to give tours of the new NET Center for drug rehabilitation that’s opening in the upper Northeast. Tom says, “It gives people a second chance, it shows people we are not monsters.”
Tom who has three children, says he was a drug addict and a nurse for 17 years and that a NET Center saved his life. Now he works for the new one in the Northeast. It’s a neighborhood where opiate addiction is exploding. “It’s everywhere not just in the city, in the burbs, it’s everywhere.” Tom says.
The dedication on Friday paves the way for hundreds of people to get drug treatment services. The city has 13 facilities for 5,000 people getting daily methadone.
That’s not near enough, according to Roland Lamb, Director of the Office of Addiction Services with the Department of Behavioral Health. “If you think of cancer, diabetes or heart disease folks who suffer those diseases have a 7 out of 10 chance of getting treatment they need, when you consider addiction 1 in 10 have a chance of getting treatment they need.” Roland says.
The new NET Center on State Road is not in a neighborhood, but there was still plenty of community opposition, including from the next door neighbor Sweet Lucy, a barbeque restaurant. Brooke Higgins says they were concerned the area would become dangerous, with illegal activities. But she says she was finally convinced the NET Center would take care of security and its clients. Brooke says, “I think they’ll be great neighbors and we’re going to be good neighbors and we’ll have a good relationship.”
Tom has been off drugs for seven years, as a constant reminder of the hell he lived he has a tattoo of the Grim Reaper. He says he feels lucky that he got a second chance.
The NET Center worked with the Holmesburg Civic Association to create a community advisory board to make sure that any neighborhood issues could be addressed.
The NET Center provides a variety of mental health services, including a comprehensive drug rehab program.