Melissa Angelo had made her life in Florida when she got called about starting a detox center in Atlantic County.
Her friend, Hansen House founder Jennifer Hansen, knew the area needed one.
So did Angelo. But she was pregnant at the time and not ready to make a move.
But Hansen kept going with the idea.
Fast forward a few years — and to a now-4-year-old daughter — and Angelo and her husband are helping lead Enlightened Solutions Detox.
On Friday they celebrated an official ribbon cutting for the facility on Albany Avenue, across from Atlantic City High School.
The rehab will officially open its doors Monday.
The 26-bed facility overlooking the water is the first standalone detox center in Atlantic County.
“We have seen that other programs often don’t offer a complete detox, which often results in them leaving against medical advice,” explained Angelo, the executive director. “What will set Enlightened Solutions Detox apart is offering a complete detox.”
If necessary, they will pay to keep a resident for an extra day to evaluate them.
“Our goal is to completely detox people and educate them while they’re here,” Hansen said.
Their holistic approach includes yoga, meditation, massage and acupuncture.
“We’re as green as possible,” said Kiersten Workman, who has served in various capacities for the group.
Hansen, who celebrated 22 years clean earlier this month, has long worked to help others make their way to long-term recovery.
In fact, she was Angelo’s sponsor when she first got into a 12-step program.
After Angelo relapsed a few years into her recovery, Hansen and her family got her on a plane to Florida, where she found success. She has now been clean 15½ years.
As a result of their own recovery, they know that detox alone will not fix the problem.
So, while people are at Enlightened Solutions, work will be done to change the behaviors that come with active addiction.
It takes at least 90 days to get to that change.
That’s where the 90-in-90 rule of starting a 12-step program comes from.
“Ninety meetings in 90 days,” Angelo said. “There’s a reason for that. That isn’t just an arbitrary number.”
While the center will be for-profit, the group will do what they can to work with insurance companies to help those who want to come to Enlightened Solutions get in. The Hansen Foundation also has partial scholarships.
And, for those who aren’t able to get the funding, calls are answered around the clock and help will be found, the group promises.
For those who do attend, there are plenty of amenities to help in the process, including Dr. Charles Meusberger, Director of Nursing Cindy McIntire, Advanced Practice Nurse Melani Jain, Clinical Director Barbara Rexer and Director of Operations Marc Abreu — Angelo’s husband.
Formerly Hansen’s Bus World, the building has been in Hansen’s family for years. It originally was a lounge for drivers with rooms upstairs, she explained.
“It was pretty much set up perfectly to be a detox center,” she said.
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(NOTE: This story originally ran March 13. It has been updated to reflect the grand opening.)