Advocates decry possible closure of Las Vegas detox center

Christian Hunt reassured himself as he took his first hit of crystal meth that the upper would work like his Adderall prescription for attention deficit disorder.

Five years later, and after almost seven months sober, the 21-year-old Hunt realizes just how wrong he was.

“In a very bad way, it was the most incredible feeling I’d ever felt,” Hunt said on a recent evening outside the T.I.E. Club at 329 N. 11th St. in Las Vegas, where he attends twice-weekly Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings.

Attending those meetings with fellow recovering methamphetamine addicts has kept Hunt sober, he says. But he wouldn’t have had a clue that the support exists if he hadn’t first landed in WestCare’s detoxification center in September.

If the nonprofit addiction treatment center buckles under financial pressure and closes by the end of May, as the organization has warned it might, Hunt said he worries that addicts like him would be left to fend for themselves.

“I didn’t just walk into a (Crystal Meth Anonymous) room,” Hunt said. “I had to go to a hospital, and they sent me to WestCare because I asked for help.”

‘I can’t do this anymore’

For Hunt, drug use began with marijuana and prescription pills at 15. A year later, he and a friend started making meth in his garage, first selling it but then falling under its harmful spell.

Before high school, Hunt was excelling in his science, accounting and graphic design classes. He played video games and liked messing around on the computer.

He lost it all.

“As soon as I started getting high, that’s all I was interested in,” Hunt said.

Hunt is soft-spoken, but he says that when he was high, he had a tendency to “freak out.” The last time he used, in late September, Hunt, intoxicated, ditched his shoes and shirt, vomited and urinated on himself, and passed out on a Las Vegas street next to a homeless man.

When he awoke, he was in in a hospital emergency room — he has no recollection which one — and shortly after was transferred to WestCare’s community triage center at 323 Maryland Parkway.

“As soon as I was out of the hospital, it was like, ‘I need to get clean. I can’t do this anymore,’” he remembers thinking to himself. “I told the nurse that, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”

Continuum of care

For 11 days, Hunt attended meetings at the detox center. He slept, began looking forward to eating again and reveled in the positivity of the sober space.

“It’s a great place,” Hunt remembers. “When I was out there running-and-gunning, trying to get clean, I didn’t know where to go.”

Once he was sober, WestCare provided a door to continuum of care. During his stay, Hunt attended a panel session with Shelby Wilson, who created the Crystal Meth Anonymous meeting group at the T.I.E. Club and who is now Hunt’s sponsor. He calls the meeting group “Life is Bella,” in honor of his daughter, Bella, who he’s been rebuilding a relationship with in his two years of sobriety.

“‘What are you guys going to do when you leave here?’” Wilson asks the group of WestCare clients attending the meetings on Sundays. He tells addicts that help is available.

“We welcome you with open arms,” Wilson says.

While he said it would be “tragic” to lose the WestCare clinic, the only certified detox center left in Nevada, he said it’s important to recognize that getting clean is only the first step.

Merlelynn Harris, clinical director at Bridge Counseling Associates, a nonprofit behavioral health clinic, agrees that follow-up care, like rehabilitation and medical services, is key to getting addicts to avoid relapse in the long term.

“So often, in the traditional detox situation, a patient goes into detox and then get’s discharged, and invariably you’re going to have repeat visitors to a detox,” Harris said. “Just having them go in and out of detox, and that alone, I think that does a disservice to the population as well.”

WestCare fills that role in Clark County, offering case management for people who land on their doorstep and connecting them to primary care services, counseling and inpatient rehabilitation, for example.

Still, about 40 percent of WestCare clients do relapse and return to try to kick their habits again, according to WestCare consultant Dan Musgrove, who called that figure “pretty darn good” at a Clark County Commission meeting on May 1.

Regaining family

Hunt had a close call. He left WestCare on Oct. 10. That same day, his dealer called him.

“And so Christian called me and said, ‘I need help, man,’” Wilson remembers.

Hunt, eager for a fresh start, went to a Life is Bella meeting the next day. He hasn’t looked back since.

“It’s just kind of nuts to see that I got sober and clean, and the person I am now,” Hunt said. He’s stronger now, and responsible, he said.

He has a job as a leasing consultant at an apartment complex and started his own Narcotics Anonymous meetings on Friday evenings.

“I’ve regained my family and personal possessions. I got my life back on track,” Hunt said. “I would never give that up for anything.”

Contact Jessie Bekker at or 702-380-4563. Follow @jessiebekks on Twitter.

Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Meadows School founding kindergarten teacher retires after 34 years at the school
Linda Verbon, founder of the The Meadows School's kindergarten program and the first faculty member hired at the school, retired in the spring after 34 years at The Meadows. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like