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Reno Addiction Center Grabs Spotlight After Clinton Visit

Julia Ritchey

When Hillary Clinton stopped in Reno last month, she made a visit to a local substance abuse facility called Crossroads to shine a spotlight on drug and alcohol addiction. As our reporter Julia Ritchey tells us, the presidential candidate pointed to the program as a possible model for battling recidivism.


Two years ago, Morgan Darcy was homeless, addicted to Methamphetamine and alienated from her family back in Oregon. 


All that changed, however, when she got arrested by Reno Police for possession and was ordered to enter a live-in substance abuse center called Crossroads, a public-private partnership between Washoe County and Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada. 


Her initial reaction was anger, particularly toward the judge who placed her there.  


"I was so mad at [Judge] Pearson, and everybody on this property felt how mad I was," Darcy remembers. "It took me a couple of months to calm down and realize it wasn't a punishment, it was more of them helping me." 


Within a few months, Darcy was getting back on her feet and even met her current boyfriend at the center.


Credit Julia Ritchey
Homeless just two years ago, Morgan Darcy now has stable housing and works at Crossroads.

"And in that time that I was here, not only did I get sober and stabilized," she says, "but they also helped me with getting my birth certificate, my ID, my Social Security and housing off the property."


Deputy Sheriff Shawn Marston says Crossroads started six years ago as a pilot program to try to keep people like Darcy out of the local jails and emergency rooms.


"We are not a rehab center," Marston is quick to explain. "We are a supportive housing program."


There is no time limit on how long a person can stay at one of Crossroad's three co-ed campuses, which include 130 beds. Clients also have access to counseling, treatment, support groups and job training.


Marston says giving people a home and providing them with services allows them a better shot at sobriety. 


"When they sober up, whether it’s in rehab or incarceration, when they graduate or leave the jail, we expect them to stay sober, but where do they go? They go back to the same environment they came from," Marston says.


Marston estimates that since 2011, Crossroads has saved $20 million in costs associated with repeat arrests and hospitalizations. For every dollar spent on Crossroads, the county and its taxpayers save about $19. 


Ken Retterath with Washoe County Social Services says the facility has been so successful, they want to expand.  


"I think what really makes this program work," he says, "is that what we've done is we've created an environment where this is their home. They do their own cooking, their own cleaning, they volunteer in our community.”


This innovative program caught the attention of Hillary Clinton, who toured Crossroads during a November campaign stop. 


"The first year they ran it, the county saved $4 million," Clinton said while visiting the center. "Because when you add up how much cheaper it is to put somebody in this program than send them to jail, or have them send them to ER all the time, you'll save money."


During her visit, Clinton also met Morgan Darcy, one of the center’s success stories, who told Clinton that many people don't understand how debilitating addiction can be:


"You get sucked into a hole; you get literally sucked into a hole where you can't find a way out. And a lot of people have a hard time asking for the help."


Darcy is due to give birth to a daughter in February and now works at Crossroads. 


“When I started to get sober again," Darcy says, "my mom brought up a good point to me, telling me, ‘Since you’ve done this, been through this, had the addiction, lived the life, ran the streets did everything that you did, you are able to connect to the clients you are around right now. And wouldn’t that be awesome, to be able to connect with everybody, and tell them, "If I can do it, you can do it."'

Julia Ritchey is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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