New addiction recovery center trying to calm Tampa community's concerns

Riverside Recovery of Tampa opens next month
Posted at 5:26 PM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 17:30:18-04

An addiction recovering center is opening soon in Tampa, and it has some residents in that neighborhood concerned.

Riverside Recovery of Tampa opens next month in the South Seminole Heights neighborhood. The treatment center, at 4004 N. Riverside Drive, will offer services such as detoxification, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services to help people overcome chemical dependency, like drugs and alcohol, and other disorders.

Some residents are concerned that having a treatment center in their neighborhood means addicts will be roaming the area, potentially looking to steal things from residents to support their addiction.

Residents of the South Seminole Heights community, and neighboring Riverside Heights community, have worked hard to decrease the amount of theft and violence from the area, and some have voiced concern that this center would be a set back. 

"Of course there were a lot of the concerns about it from residents about having a rehab facility on the river, in our neighborhood," says Stephen Lytle, who lives in the neighborhood and is the head of that community's Civic Association.

Lytle helped organize a community meeting on Wednesday evening to give the treatment center managers an opportunity to assure residents there is no threat.

If anything, says Lytle, he sees the new business as a benefit.

"I would personally say you'd probably see more instances of drug use, vagrants living on the property, really it just being in disrepair and being blighted in our neighborhood," says Lytle of the building that was once a juvenile detention center. It's been sitting vacant for about three years now. "So to have someone come in, a responsible business with a good business plan, is very beneficial for us," adds Lytle to ABC Action News.

This kind of concern, especially around drug treatment centers, is well-documented, and even has a term: NIMBY, for "not in my backyard."

There's been a great deal of research about NIMBY concerns. However, a recent study by the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Mental Health studied the data associated with drug treatment centers and incidents of crime and violence, and found that there was no discernable impact to communities compared to any other commercial business.

Riverside Recovery of Tampa co-founder Kirk Kirkpatrick is attending the community's meeting at the Seminole Heights Library this evening, at 6:30 p.m., to explain their mission to concerned residents and "dispel rumors and stereotypes about substance abuse."

The event is free and open to the residents of the community.

Kirkpatrick tells ABC Action News the center is an abstinence-only clinic, meaning they don't hand out methadone, and they only accept people who want to be there, and pay with either private insurance, or pay them directly.

The location is key, says Kirkpatrick. The center is centrally located in Tampa, is less than a mile to two hospitals, if necessary, and has a pretty spot right on the Hillsborough River. The center will employ over 60 people, and house over 100 people.