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Sobering Station Celebrates First Year

Better avoid: schoolchildren given a tour of the sobering station.
Better avoid: schoolchildren given a tour of the sobering station. Source: Photo: Pärnu Postimees / Scanpix

Tallinn's legendary old 'drunk tank' was closed in the 1990s along with many other remnants from the Soviet era. But a new establishment that opened a year ago has proved more than necessary.

In just a year, the facility has provided substance abuse treatment to 5,285 guests, among them 73 foreign nationals.

The move to open such a facility in the city has led to a great resource, said Deputy Mayor of Tallinn Merike Martinson. "As predicted, problems with people under the influence in the hospitals' emergency wards and homeless shelters were significantly reduced because ambulance crews now deliver them straight to the sobering station."

"The station offers overnight monitoring and medical services, and prevents the homeless who are turned away from shelters because of their inebriated state from freezing on the streets," Martinson said. The highest monthly figure of homeless people admitted was 196.

The facility has 30 wards, each containing two beds. The number of admittances is usually highest in the beginning of each month, when around 30 people need the services daily. The monthly admission record for women dates from March, when 81 women were taken in to recover from effects of excessive consumption.

The facility has a staff of 14, including eight police officers.

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