Rehab offers free treatment for Tampa woman who wanted to go to jail to get off drugs

Pasco County

A Tampa drug addict’s desperate attempt to get clean got the attention of a Pasco County treatment facility. 

Last week, News Channel 8 brought you the story of Michelle Hildebrandt, a 32-year-old heroin addict who resorted to shoplifting from a Largo CVS in order to go to jail to get off drugs. 

That stolen box of Lucky Charms was enough to turn Hildebrandt’s luck around. New Port Richey-based Rockland Recovery Center saw the story and offered to enroll Hildebrandt in its inpatient substance abuse program, free of charge. 

Hildebrandt checked into Rockland Thursday afternoon, after bonding out of the Pinellas County jail earlier in the day. 

She was arrested on May 5 for stealing a box of cereal and dumping it out on the ground, along with some soda and plastic utensils. Hildebrandt explained that was her third attempt that day to get caught, and she did whatever she could to get the store to call the cops. 

Like so many other addicts, Hildebrandt didn’t have the money or the insurance for rehab. Previous attempts to get clean were sullied when the withdrawals became unbearable. 

“Gosh, it’s crazy, makes me sound crazy, but I had to do what I had to do to go get clean,” Hildebrandt said. “So, I locked myself in jail to make it through the detox.” 

Rockland’s Brian Zitt saw the story of Hildebrandt’s arrest and reached out to see what he could do to help. Someone once gave him a second shot at life, and he’s dedicated his life now to doing the same for others. 

“I was an addict for 18 years,” he explained. “So, I know we can go to some pretty crazy extremes to get help.” 

Zitt went to see Hildebrandt in jail and after a conversation, offered her a full scholarship for rehab. 

“We’ve seen a lot of success stories come out of here, and we intend to keep it that way,” Zitt said. 

Having gone from desperate to driven, Hildebrandt is excited to start her 30 day program and close this chapter of her life. She’s doing it not just for her sake, but also for her 5-year-old daughter. 

“She’s worth it,” she said. “I’m worth it, too.” 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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