MANATEE -- Nancy Vollick picked up her daughter from a six-month stint in jail June 19, and she's already worried her 22-year-old middle child will resume her drug habit.
Vollick's daughter has a rap sheet of drug-related crimes. Most recently she was charged in February with possession with intent to sell cocaine, according to Manatee County jail records.
Vollick said she believes her daughter has been using drugs for eight years, and she has been trying to get her help for five years with no positive results.
"I watched her go from a beautiful girl to 90 pounds, skin and bones and picking at her face," Vollick said. "It's awful."
When Vollick's daughter was still a juvenile she had to go through court-ordered rehab, which didn't stick. Since then, Vollick said she has tried to take her to Manatee Glens a few times, and each time officials told Vollick they were full and they'd have to come back.
"We're a middle-class family, and I can't afford how much those treatments cost, and they're the only option I know of with public funding," Vollick said. "They told us to come every day at 6 a.m. and maybe we could get the spot of someone coming out. But she's an addict, and I can't keep making sure she's up at 6 and take her there every day."
Melissa Larkin-Skinner, chief clinical officer at Manatee Glens, said they'll sometimes tell people to come first thing in the morning to hopefully get a spot faster.
"We're just so full all the time that it's hard," she said.
Vollick called the Bradenton Herald with her daughter's story after a series about heroin use was published last week focusing on the difficulties of addicts and cuts to funding for law enforcement, treatment and education.
Manatee Glens has 19 detoxification beds, seven publicly funded, and 14 beds in the residential program, including seven publicly funded. Detoxification lasts a little less than a week to safely get drugs out of an addict's system. The residential program is about a month, teaching addicts tools on how to stay clean in everyday life.
CEO Mary Ruiz of Manatee Glens said 20 additional publicly funded beds are needed to properly handle county addiction treatment. They already have to make up for deficits in addiction treatment by taking revenues from positive margins in their hospital operations.
"We're bringing the issue to the forefront. People are realizing what a problem it is," Larkin-Skinner said. "People kept calling this week, referencing the series, trying to get help."
Gov. Rick Scott, however, last week vetoed $300,000 in funding for a Manatee Glens psychiatry residency program. The program would have provided additional doctors to Manatee Glens, which treats mental health issues and addiction.
Treatment for addicts is time sensitive. Deaths by overdose are becoming more frequent, increasing from eight deaths in 2012, to 19 in 2013, to 63 in 2014, to 54 through mid-May 2015. Parents like Vollick say without treatment, they worry their children will become statistics.
"You can't sleep at night because you don't know if your child is alive," Vollick said.
She said she kicked her daughter out of the house after years of issues, including finding burn marks and her daughter constantly stealing to fund her drug habit. Vollick said she filed her daughter's first felony charge after she stole her son's Xbox.
Susan Ferrarccio, 55, said she knows what it's like to wonder whether your child is alive. She also knows what it's like to learn your 26-year-old son is dead.
"I was at the dentist when the call came that he was gone," Ferrarccio said, tearing up. "I thought it would be a case like before, that I would get there and he would be OK, but then I got to his apartment. ... He was laying in his bed as if he was sleeping. I ran to him, and he was cold, his lips were blue. He was gone."
Chris Barnett died of an overdose in April 2009, the fifth overdose of his short lifetime. Ferrarccio said he started experimenting with drugs and alcohol at 13 years old, and from there it got worse.
She said she tried to get him help at the hospital but could never connect with the right people. After he turned 18, she said he refused help and said he'd figure it out on his own.
Eventually, he turned to what he referred to as an "addiction specialist," but Ferrarccio said it was a pill mill -- a place addicts could be prescribed strong painkillers they didn't actually need.
Barnett died after an overdose on those medications, leaving behind a girlfriend with three children. His girlfriend, Ferrarccio said, is still mixed up in drugs.
Ferrarccio officially adopted the couple's three girls, now ages 6, 7 and 9, soon after her son's death. All three have health problems as a result of their mother's drug use during her pregnancies, Ferrarccio said.
"I think with each child, the addiction was a little more intense. The oldest child ... suffers from intense migraines," Ferrarccio said. "My middle child has (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and has learning disabilities and (sensory) and memory issues. The youngest child has been in speech therapy since she was just a toddler and (occupational therapy) since she was 2."
Six years after her son's death, Ferrarccio said she can't shake the sadness of losing her eldest child. Given her options, she doesn't know what else she could have done for her son, she said.
"By the time his addiction was in the open, he was living on his own, and my hands were tied," she said. "I would call the courts, call the sheriff's department. I reported the doctor and nothing ever came of any of it."
That's the struggle many parents and loved ones of addicts suffer in Manatee County. Too few places to turn for addiction treatment means they feel alone addressing a problem even treatment experts say is difficult and complicated. Parents such as Ferrarccio said they find there's nothing they can do for their adult children.
Even if parents still have some control, they're caught between keeping an addict in their homes, who could be a safety threat, and kicking them out, fearing the addicts might die.
It's a fear Vollick lives with daily as she frets about her daughter's potential return to drugs.
"I think if she goes back, she won't survive it," Vollick said. "But I don't know what I can do to stop her."
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter @KateIrby