‘It’s time to face reality’: People in crisis get help from Spokane Regional Stabilization Center instead of going to jail

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Spokane Regional Stabilization Center opened in mid-October and will soon expand to help more people in crisis.

Since its “soft opening,” it’s helped 50 people so far.

The center is meant to help divert people from jail and get help for mental health or substance abuse instead. Most of the people who go to the center are taken there by police after an encounter or are referred by the court. People in need can come in and get help on their own, too.

Center director John Hindman says the stabilization center is what they call “low threshold,” so it’s easy for people to get help. Those in need will have to be evaluated to see what services they’ll need.

For those in need of detox and mental health crisis stabilization, they can stay overnight for five days while getting services. For co-occurring, which includes substance abuse and mental health needs, they’ll be there for about 28 days.

Beckie Wilkie is in for co-occurrence, She’s been there for the last two weeks and three times a day she sits in meetings trying to better herself. She’s been an alcoholic for the last 25 years and it “gradually got worse and worse.”

A few years ago, she ended up getting in trouble with the police and was on probation.

“I kept violating my probation. The last time I violated my probation, it was either here or jail,” Wilkie said.

She’s been in jail before, and she’d much prefer to be at the center. The stabilization center is a voluntary program, Hindman said. Since they’ve been open, he says there have people who just come in to get services and then leave.

It’s been difficult for Wilkie to overcome her disease, even getting help twice in the past.

“A few times, you end up crying, but that’s good because it helps you let everything out,” she said. “But, I want to come to terms with it. It’s time. It’s time to face reality and get on with it.”

Wilkie is one of nine people currently getting help from the center. The rest of the center will open up next week, Hindman said. That means they’ll be able to help 46 people at a time.

During their stay, they’ll be introduced to services tailored to their needs. Hindman says they’ve also helped people find a home, go back to work or even reconnect with families.

For those who do get taken to the center because they’ve violated a law, Hindman says it’s possible their charges could be dropped if professionals deem them better after completing the program. It is ultimately up to the prosecuting attorney’s office and law enforcement, he added.

“They’re making better decisions. They’re getting into housing, and they’re just not returning to the streets,” he said. “It’s pretty rewarding to see our staff just connect with these guys and make a big difference.”

Wilkie should be done with the program in just a few weeks, just in time to be home for Christmas. She told 4 News Now she feels like she is getting better.

“When you’re an alcoholic, you’re always going to be an alcoholic, but I’m feeling pretty good about this. Really good about this,” she said.

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