Sobering Center prepares for possible SXSW influx

The last time Darcy Donovan was intoxicated, was five months ago, on Rundberg Lane. “I don't remember how I got there but I spent four or five days down there,” she said.

She said that weekend, she consumed several bottles of alcohol, and she knew at that moment enough was enough. “I called police on myself. They came and got me and took me to the Sobering Center. Before I had the blessing of being admitted into the sobering center I didn't know anything about it,” said Donovan.

The facility opened on a 24-7 basis back in October, right when Darcy needed them the most. They provide help for clients to get on the track to sober living.

Darcy had a lot of reasons to be transported to the center.

“With some great losses in my life, family members due to suicide and other things, my drinking got worse. I had already lost a job due to my drinking. I probably was going to lose my home, my place of living because I wasn't being responsible,” she said.

The Sobering Center downtown was the first step in the recovery process for Darcy.

To date, the center has saved taxpayers $335,000 in jail booking and EMS transport fees. “We either provide education, do some brief intervention, or we do referral placement, and treatment,” said Dr. Rhonda Patric, executive director at the Sobering Center.

This South by Southwest will be the first one for the center and the staff is prepared to handle any amount of people the police may bring through the doors. “ACL is confined to one specific area and there is a medical and sobering tent at ACL and that has a big impact on how many people ended up coming here. With South by Southwest it's all over the city. Remember we have nine entertainment districts,” said Patrick.

Whether it's South by Southwest or just another weekend in Austin, the Sobering Center staff is always ready to go and they hope recoveries like Darcy's can become more common. “I’m willing to tell my story because as hard as it is for me, it's just as hard for the next person, but if they can see my strength, it's worth it,” she said.