Choosing drug treatment over jail

- Chad Jelonek carries scars of his former heroin habit. He tells me his 44th birthday on May 13 was his first clean and sober birthday since the age of 12. He intends to have many more.

He is just one of 45 men in recovery at the Camelot Counseling Center on Staten Island. Most chose it because it is better than jail, and some believe it's their last chance.

Group counseling sessions are part of the full daily schedule. There is also one-on-one counseling, continuing education, and medication to support treatment.

Most clients are nonviolent offenders with drug problems. They're required to do chores, maintain the grounds and keep their rooms clean. The treatment focuses on building self-esteem and knowing it is okay to ask for help.

Michael Sapio, 32, tells me he has been in and out of treatment since he was a teenager. He voluntarily checked himself in to Camelot and says he was lucky to get a spot.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a package of bills to help local agencies deal with the drug crisis. This center's director says it's a step in the right direction but what is really needed is an immediate disaster response.

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