After purposeful arrest to detox in jail, Tampa woman on path to sobriety

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For Michelle Hildebrandt, every day is a battle, but she says every day is worth it.

The 32-year-old has spent the last 28-days at Rockland Treatment Center in New Port Richey, working on herself and kicking her heroin addiction.

"For the first time in a long time I’m actually happy," she said. "I still have a lot of work to do, but I’ve made a good bit of progress."

Five weeks ago, Michelle was at rock bottom, defeated and looking for help. With no health insurance or money to get into rehab, she decided to use jail time as a way to get clean.           

Michelle was arrested May 5 after walking into a Largo CVS and dumping a box of cereal and box of plastic utensils on the floor.

"I was extremely desperate,” said Michelle. “Addiction puts you in a place where you are completely and totally miserable."

LINK: Addicted and without insurance, Tampa woman breaks the law to detox in jail

Rockland's Brain Zitt heard Michelle’s story and paid her a visit, where he offered her a full scholarship to the center's in-patient treatment program.

"She left with a big smile on her face because she was hopeless when she walked into that jail cell, and after we had a conversation with her she had a glimmer of hope," said Zitt.

Michelle bonded out of jail and checked herself into the facility. As a former addict, Zitt has made it his mission to help people get sober and happy,

"Whenever I see people who are broken, who can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, that's my mission and that's our mission here at Rockland Treatment Center,” Zitt said. “There's light at the end of the tunnel, we're just going to make it as big and bright as we can for you."

Michelle is on her way to getting her life back. She says her family is behind her 100%, including her 5-year-old daughter.

"My daughter is proud of me,” said Michelle. “My daughter, every time she comes here to see me she doesn't want to go."

Michelle hopes to move from the treatment center to a sober living facility in about two weeks. She’s also going to try and get her petit theft charge from Pinellas County dropped.