ATLANTIC CITY — Melissa Angelo knows the importance of support and detoxification in addiction recovery.
The Margate resident battled a heroin addiction for about five years and was in and out of facilities to work on her addiction. Now sober for about 16 years, she’s the executive director of a new 26-bed, 24/7 detox center opening in the city for people struggling with substance abuse.
“For many people, detox is where it starts,” Angelo said at the center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday. “This is it, so this can really set the tone for where someone is going to go in their journey.”
The doors to the Enlightened Solutions detox center along Albany Avenue will be open starting Monday. Enlightened Solutions opened the center at the location of the former Atlantic City Transportation Center to offer comprehensive and holistic services to people who want to take a step toward recovery, said Jennifer Hansen, co-founder of the Hansen Foundation and CEO of Enlightened Solutions.
Clients will be welcomed at the door for intake and receive a detox protocol that fits their specific situation. A typical stay will average about five to seven days, but clients could stay longer if they need more help, Angelo said.
The treatment offered at the center includes medical services, counseling, introductions to support groups, discharge planning and a holistic approach to healing, including organic foods and therapeutic services such as yoga, acupuncture and massages.
The center is fully staffed with physicians, nurse practitioners and nurses who will be staffed 24 hours a day for ongoing support for clients. They also can refer people to the other places for further recovery help.
“Treatment works,” Hansen said. “And I’m living proof of that.”
Hansen described her own battle with heroin addiction that she had for about 12 years. She has been clean since 1996, but she didn’t see a lot of options for people struggling with addiction in the area to get help.
She wanted to make a change.
Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam said the center’s opening in the city makes him proud of the community. It brings a place locally to assist an urgent matter to a place that needs it, he said.
“When someone chooses that moment in time that they want to clean themselves, there is no time to say, ‘Take a ride,’” he said. “You have to have that person on location, on demand.”
Several additional city and county elected officials spoke about the need for this facility at the ribbon-cutting, including Assemblymen Vince Mazzeo and John Armato, and Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson.
Hansen has helped establish a series of facilities to help people who are struggling with addiction in the area. She previously opened Enlightened Cafe in the summer in Ventnor — a local place to eat that doubles as a place for people to go for outpatient therapy and educational resources on addiction treatment and recovery.
“We’re all in recovery,” she said. “It takes passion to really want to help that person ... to let them know that we did this, and you can do it too.”