The 39-year-old woman looked like she’d been in the gym.
Her hair was tied in a bun and she wore sneakers and workout clothes.
“I’m Dominique,” she said in the reception area. “I’m an alcoholic.”
It wasn’t an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting she was addressing, but a group of Manatee County citizens at the end of an hour-long tour at Manatee Glens Hospital and Addiction Center, 2020 26th Ave. E.
“That girl was telling the truth,” said Eddie Senior, a future volunteer at the private behavioral health hospital and outpatient facility.
“She just seemed so normal,” said Faye Butler, a real estate broker.
Which was one of the things Mary Ruiz, president and CEO, and Cheryl Libera, director of the addiction center and outpatient detox, tried to impress on Wednesday’s visitors.
“We see every day people experiencing life issues and problems, who are unable to cope with those problems,” Libera said.
“They turn to alcohol and drugs to try to cope those daily problems.
“Addiction does not differentiate from a highly successful professional to a housewife to a teenager.”
Or a health care professional like Dominique.
This was her second extended stay at Manatee Glens.
The last one was 35 days; this one will be at least that long.
“I was here 11 months ago for alcoholism and, it being the first time I went through this, I just thought I needed to not pick up another drink and that would solve my problem,” Dominique said.
“I didn’t use the tools given me and eventually I picked up drinking again. So this time I’m really listening to suggestions they’ve made for me.”
Ruiz said if a client adheres to the entire program, then there is a 79-percent success rate.
“Our frustration is when clients leave us before we know they’re ready to make it on their own,” she said.
“Dominique, or anyone like Dominique, needs to stay in treatment until they’re ready to live in society on their own,” Libera said. “We recommend staying in treatment six months to a year, while gaining the tools necessary to living a life of recovery.”
It includes counseling and support groups in addition to AA or Narcotics Anonymous.
“There’s no going back to being a normal drinker,” Dominique said. “When you’re an alcoholic, you’re an alcoholic.”
Her words resonated with Eddie Senior.
His late father was a recovering alcoholic.
“Alcoholism, in my experience, is very destructive,” he said. “I remember my father and the trauma and bitterness and hiding from neighbors and trying to not let it get out. It affects everyone in the home.
“I’m glad they let her speak.”
So was Faye Butler.
“It lets me know the program is working,” she said.
“What I like about this place is not only are they taking care of them inside this facility, but how it gets them ready for the outside world, to face the things they’re going to meet that put them in here in the first place.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.
Manatee Glens administration: 782-4299
Outpatient admissions: 782-4150
Inpatient admissions: 782-4617