Drinking is a fun, legal, and socially acceptable form of recreation ... until things get ugly. For some people, rehab serves as an alibi for all the embarrassing and damaging mistakes they made while loaded. But many, for whatever reason, really are caught in the grip of a life-threatening addiction and feel like there's no way out. Being broke whether you're homeless and panhandling or working part-time in a café and barely making the rent certainly doesn't make getting sober easier. It's not like you can just dial Mimi Silbert at the Delancey Street Foundation or check into the Betty Ford Center, chill with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears for 28 days, and then pay the clinic 20 grand on your way out. It takes persistence to find low-cost recovery programs, but you can locate the help you need in San Francisco.
True, the bureaucracy is vast and probably intimidating for someone who is facing the shaking, the anxiety, and the possible seizures and pink elephant sightings that come with detoxification. Your next step, after admitting your problem, should be to call Ozanam Detox (1175 Howard, SF. 415-864-3057, www.svdp-sf.org/ozanam.htm), which operates several four- to 72-hour detox centers and only requests a $10 donation. If you don't need immediate care, call the Treatment Access Program of San Francisco (1-800-750-2727). It can help you find your way to a subsidized, low-cost residential program treating people with alcohol dependency. Most programs are free to those on welfare and less than $600 for those who aren't. Participants get three meals a day and lots of counseling.
The Asian American Residential Recovery Center (2024 Hayes, SF. 415-541-9404, www.aars-inc.org) has 24 beds for its six-month to one-year program, and the cost is negotiable.
Baker Places (600 Townsend, suite 200E, SF. 415-864-1515, www.bakerplaces.org) has 90 beds for its 60-day program. It also offers a separate 21-day medical detox program that accommodates 28 people.
The extensive and free program for rehabilitation at the Delancey Street Foundation (600 Embarcadero, SF. 415-957-9800, www.eisenhowerfoundation.org) lasts about two years and includes job training and education. The facility usually only accepts applicants who can't find help anywhere else, such as those who have been in jail or have a history of violence.
Freedom from Alcohol and Drugs (1362 and 1366 48th Ave., SF. 415-665-8077) has 40 beds for men and currently has a couple vacancies. The six-month program ranges from free to $500. You must be clean for three days before entering.
Friendship House Association of American Indians (56 Julian, SF. 415-865-0964, www.friendshiphousesf.org) has 80 beds for men and women and a program specifically for women with children.
Run by Community Awareness and Treatment Services (CATS), Golden Gate for Seniors (637 S. Van Ness, SF. 415-626-7553, www.careforhomeless.org/services/ggate.html) has 16 beds for men and four beds for women. There may be a waiting list, and you must be clean for three days, but no one is turned away due to lack of funds. Its facilities are not wheelchair accessible.
The Good Shepherd Gracenter (1310 Bacon, SF. 415-337-1938, www.gsgracenter.org) has a six-month program for women. Currently, there isn't a waiting list to occupy one of its 13 beds.
The Haight Ashbury Free Clinic Drop-in Center (211 13th St., SF. 415-746-1915, www.hafci.org) is open 24 hours and can find you immediate help. The clinic also operates three residential centers, which can accommodate more than 50 people together. No one is turned away due to lack of funds.
Jelani (1601 Quesada, SF. 415-822-5977, www.jelanisf.org) specializes in family care.