Published: Aug 03, 2010 4:45 AM EDT
Updated: Aug 03, 2010 1:45 AM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - A Cape Coral man claims he was denied detox treatment because he's in a wheelchair.  But the publicly-funded Southwest Florida Addiction Services insists that's not their policy.

Scott Straub has been in a wheelchair for 25 years; but it was a car accident four years ago that got him hooked on prescription pills.
"I went into detox, and that's what I was gonna do," Straub said.

But Straub claims he was turned away from Southwest Florida Addiction Services just as he was beginning drug withdrawals.

"I told her she needed to stand guard because I didn't feel safe transferring onto the bed at that particular time with the spasms I was having in my legs," Straub said.

"If the patient is not self-preserve or self-care, unfortunately we will not be able to admit him," said SWFAS Detox Program Director Alejandro Garcia-Barbon.

The SWFAS detox director could not talk about this specific case because of patient confidentiality rules, but did discuss the center's admission policies.

"We have admission criteria that, its not looking out for us, its looking out for the patient themselves," Garcia-Barbon explained.

Though SWFAS doesn't take patients who can't take care of their themselves, the center does refer them elsewhere.

"No patient leaves our doors without a list of doctors, a list of telephone numbers of other programs or other facilities or other doctors that can meet the patients' needs," Garcia-Barbon said.

Straub says that referral came too late.

"I couldn't even read the paper, my eyes were so foggy from what I was going through I couldn't read the printing on the paper," Straub said.

Ultimately, Straub worked through the worst of his detox in the hospital.  Now back home, he says he is taking care of himself, like he always has.

"To me, it's a straight-up discrimination case," Straub said.

The SWFAS detox director says the facility is fully handicapped-accessible.  He says a medical director helps decide who is and is not acceptable for treatment.