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Women’s detox center in Murray reopens after 4-year closure

October 27, 2018
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As Rachel Santizo, former Center for Women and Children client, debates going into the center during the grand opening, Mary Jo McMillen, USARA executive director and Santizo's mentor, tells Santizo that she will take her hand and go with her in Murray, Utah on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. (Kristin Murphy/The Deseret News via AP)

MURRAY, Utah (AP) — Rachel Santizo has the date March 14, 2012, tattooed on the back of her arm.

That’s when she entered a substance abuse detox center for women in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray and began to get her life back on track. She eventually kicked her heroin and meth addiction and regained custody of her two children.

Santizo cried as she told her story this week to a crowd at the reopening ceremony for the Volunteers of America-Utah’s Center for Women and Children, which was closed for four years due to a lack of funding, the Deseret News reports .

“Before I walked into those doors, I was lost. I was broken. I was full of guilt and shame. I was completely confused with no direction in my life,” Santizo said. “I’m so glad that it’s reopened so that other women can go through what I’m going through right now.”

The center was open for 15 years until it shut down in 2014 due to a lack of funding. It reopened this week after Volunteers of America secured $850,000 for renovations and $1 million for operations from the state.

Santizo has been sober for six years and works for several substance abuse treatment organizations. She found the room where she stayed, and remembered questioning if she was worth anything. She said she shot up heroin and meth seven to 10 times a day and had an abusive boyfriend.

She said she was devastated when the center closed in 2014, and ecstatic to learn it was reopening.

“I never knew that life could feel so good,” Santizo said. “And it all started with me walking through those doors.”

Kathy Bray, president and CEO of Volunteers of America-Utah, said the 32-bed facility is a special place because it allows women to stay with their children while they transition into drug treatment.

“The beauty of a facility like this is that people do recover,” Bray said. “They start their journeys here, and then they go on to treatment from here and continue their lives of recovery for themselves and for their families.”

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