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Medical Sobering

Find information about the Gateway's Medical Sobering Center.

What is the Sobering Center?

A safe, supportive, and supervised environment to provide medical care for publicly intoxicated individuals until they are sober.   

Gateway's Sobering Center will add a vital resource to Albuquerque's continuum of care for substance abuse, taking strain off of hospitals and Emergency Departments. The 50-bed center will be one of 40 in the country. The sobering center will be a connection point to longer-term substance abuse resources, both inside the Gibson Health Hub and elsewhere in the Albuquerque area. 



  Available 24/7 to those in need. Patients may stay up to 23 hours.


Operates in partnership with Albuquerque Fire Rescue and other first responders, law enforcement agencies, and substance abuse treatment providers such as the Bernalillo County CARE campus. 


Allows patients to avoid unnecessary interaction with more costly systems.


Care will be provided by specialized medical and peer support staff who build trust with clients and and can make the appropriate referral when someone is ready for a lifestyle change.


Sobering Center floor plan

Research and Feasibility Study

In August, 2021, a Feasibility Study was prepared by the Albuquerque Family & Community Services Department (FCS) at the request of City Council to determine the feasibility of a Sobering Center placed at the newly acquired Gibson Health Hub. The Sobering Center study provides analysis of the current situation, including incidence data; research on best practices; cost consideration; facility size; personnel and staffing ratios; funding sources; community linkages; and proposed recommendations.

This report summarizes the growing need in the Albuquerque community to address emergency response for individuals who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and who are without other acute medical need. It highlights associated costs to the City each time a paramedic or EMT responds to a 9-1-1 call for overdose, unconscious/unknown, or public intoxication, and where a person is under the influence of an unknown substance. The report also summarizes hospital encounter data and patient volume related to alcohol and substance intoxication. Specifically, data from 2018–2020 highlights the total number of substance-related encounters for the 13 local hospital and urgent care sites in Presbyterian Healthcare Services was 21,668. During the same period, UNMH Main and Psychiatric Emergency Services Department experienced 32,788 encounters. Of these combined encounters, the data indicated roughly 6,000 of these cases experienced return visits within three days of the initial visit during the time studied.

The report notes that New Mexico has a long history of having some of the highest rates of alcohol and drug abuse in the country. The problem throughout New Mexico and here in Albuquerque is complex. Adding to the pervasive issues associated with substance use disorders is an increasing impact on Albuquerque’s emergency response and criminal systems. 

Download the complete feasibility study.


The sobering center has received significant support from many partners. The City of Albuquerque is grateful to everyone who has helped bring this important resource to New Mexico. 

Bernalillo County: Contributed $4.35 Million in capital funds for the construction. Read the news release

Senator Heinrich, Representative Stansbury, and the New Mexico federal delegation: $4.2 Million in capital and operational funds.  Read the news release

National Sobering Collaborative: Advice and guidance on site plans and operational best practices. 

Timeline and Next Steps

The sobering center is under construction and will open in 2024.