MANATEE -- Nancy Vollick picked up her daughter from a six-month stint in jail on 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, and most recently she was charged in February with possession with intent to sell cocaine, according to Manatee County jail records.
Vollick, 55, 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 three or four 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 as a series about heroin use was published last week, focusing on the difficulties of addicts and cuts to law enforcement, treatment and education.
Manatee Glens has 19 detoxification beds, seven of which are publicly funded, and 14 beds in their residential program, seven of which are 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.
Mary Ruiz, CEO of Manatee Glens, said they would need 20 additional publicly-funded beds to properly meet the county's needs in addiction treatment. They already have to make up for deficits in addiction treatment by taking from the positive margins in their hospital side.
"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."
Despite that, Gov. Rick Scott last week vetoed $300,000 in additional funding to Manatee Glens for a psychiatry residency program. The program would have provided additional doctors to Manatee Glens as a whole, which caters to mental health issues as well as 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. And parents like Vollick constantly worry that without treatment, 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 that she kicked her daughter out of the house after years of issues, including burn marks in her home and her daughter constantly stealing things to fund her drug habit. Vollick said she filed her daughter's first felony charge, after her daughter stole her son's Xbox.
Susan Ferraraccio, 47, 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 or 14 years old, and from there it got worse.
She said she tried to get him help at the hospital but could never get connected 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 that 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 is ADHD and has learning disabilities and (sensory) and memory issues. The youngest child has been in speech since she was just a toddler and OT (occupational therapy) since she was 2."
Six years after her son's death, Ferrarccio can't shake the sadness of losing her eldest child. But given her options, she doesn't know what else she could have done for her son.
"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. A lack of places to turn for addiction means they feel alone in trying to address a problem that even treatment experts say is difficult and complicated. Parents like Ferrarccio find that there's nothing they can do for their adult children.
Even if parents still have some control, then they're caught between keeping an addict in their homes, who could constantly be a safety threat to everyone else, and kicking them out, then fearing that the addicts themselves 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 of her 22-year-old daughter. "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 or at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter@KateIrby