Shirley Wieman | Survivor of Addiction

"This wonderful organization is a breath of fresh air in addressing the issues of recovery from alcohol and other drugs."

Twenty-five years ago, my family started on the amazing road of recovery. My late husband said he was sick and that I needed to take him to a doctor. We ended up in the emergency ward at McKennan Hospital. The doctor on duty that night said that my husband had a problem with alcohol and that he needed to go immediately to a treatment center. He was taken to River Park in Sioux Falls. He spent 30 days there. A couple of years after he quit drinking, he quit smoking cold turkey. He had a steel will and once he made up his mind to do something, he did it. He often told me that when he was at the treatment center, Jesus became the Lord of his life. Because of that personal relationship with Jesus as his higher power, he was able to stay on the remarkable journey of recovery from alcohol and cigarettes. At the time of his death in 2001, he had 16 years of sobriety from alcohol and 14 years from smoking.

Three days before my late husband went to the treatment center, I had told the Lord I was tired of the roller coaster ride that we were on. I had no idea that alcohol was the problem or that our family suffered from the chronic disease of alcoholism. I was tired of going up and down and around on that old roller coaster. I had tried to fix our problem and finally just gave up. When I gave up, a miracle happened. The doctor on duty that night had a father that was a recovering alcoholic. The doctor knew he didn’t have any medicine that would fix my husband's problem. The only solution to alcoholism is abstinence from alcohol.

After he came home from treatment center, I wasn’t sure how I was to going to deal with everything that had happened. Our finances were a mess and we ended up moving from Sioux Falls to Marion. After moving, I had an emotional meltdown. I felt like I was a leper and didn’t understand this disease we had. I started listening to Psalms and my mind started healing. My first thought was why there wasn’t any education out there about alcoholism and why was the disease kept in the closet. The only people you could talk to about the disease were other recovering alcoholics. I started to educate myself about the disease and what the Bible had to say about it.

Alcoholism is in my family tree. Even though alcoholism skipped me, I ended up marrying a person that became an alcoholic. I was the classic enabler and that is one my character defects.

After my husband passed away, I found myself entering a different type of recovery...this one was surviving the grief of losing a loved one. The first year was spent in a fog. The pain of losing a mate was like having major surgery on some of your vital organs and having half of them removed. One has to learn to live without all of them intact. The loneliness of having to live alone is the worst aspect of dealing with the death of a loved one. Here I was again on that recovery road. I had been left behind.

Spending time with my children and grandchildren brings great joy to my life. Volunteering is next on my list. Last summer, through a church program, I had the privilege of being able to go down to the Minnehaha County Jail once a week and have a Bible study with the ladies there. This study will evolve into a Christian 12-step program. The majority of prisoners are in jail due to using alcohol and/or other drugs while committing their offenses. It is a humbling experience to listen to their stories and to be able to encourage them that they don't have to continue on with their disease and that there is hope in recovery.

I would like to applaud those that had the vision to start Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls. This wonderful organization is a breath of fresh air in addressing the issues of recovery from alcohol and other drugs. During all the years of my own recovery, I have felt that it is important to be able to share my story and not hide it in the closet. I find great peace and a sense of purpose to my life in encouraging others to get on recovery road. In order to keep the precious gift of recovery, one has to give it away to others that are in need. Volunteering at Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls is a wonderful experience on that journey of giving back to an organization that focuses on recovery from the chronic diseases of alcoholism and other drugs that will help those that still need to come aboard recovery road.

*This story represents Shirley's recovery journey as of 3/3/10.