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September 17, 2012 07:14 PM

Brothers Face Recovery Together

sioux falls, sd

Dave Jansa does some work at various golf courses around Sioux Falls. But it's his younger brother, Tom, who's the president of Dakota Golf Management. Yet the game isn't the only thing these two share. They've also battled an addiction to alcohol.

"Growing up in the late 1970s, I guess I just look at it as it was kind of a culture of drinking and drinking early," Tom Jansa said.

"Mine started in high school," Dave Jansa said. "I had a very loose high school experience. Back where I went to school, there just weren't a lot of demands put upon us to study and whatnot back in those days."

Dave is older than Tom by seven years, so he actually helped his younger brother get into treatment after Tom tried to kick the habit himself.

"Everyone's story is unique to them.  That's another thing I've learned about this," Dave Jansa said. "And Tom couldn't have been more willing. I thought we would meet some resistance and have to talk him into it, but he was just ready to go."

Yet Dave was battling the same demons himself. And Tom actually helped him come to that realization.

"When he came out of treatment, he came to live with me," Dave Jansa said. "I took him to treatment. He came out to live with me and I was pretty ignorant. I was very ignorant about what addiction was all about, not knowing I was in the throws of it myself."

"I was never overt about it, I probably never said a word in any way, shape or form," Tom Jansa said. "But I think he was well on his way to that realization."

"I tried on my own and failed, just like Tom did," Dave Jansa said. "That's something that virtually every addict goes through. And that's a sign that you might have a problem. If you try to quit, but you can't, that's a red flag."

Dave eventually went to treatment as well. Each Jansa brother has now been sober for more than 25 years. But that's where the similarities end. Dave, for instance, doesn't know when he actually got help.

"It doesn't surprise me that he doesn't know the exact date," Tom Jansa said. "It was easy for me; I went into treatment on April 6, 1984. It's exactly one month after my real birthday."

But all that matters to Dave is that he got the help when he did.

"If you wait until you get deeper into the throws of addiction, you're probably going to need some sort of treatment or counseling. You're going to get sicker," Dave Jansa said.

Now, Dave volunteers at Face It Together as a recovery coach. He says it's instrumental in helping him remain sober.

"Giving back and reaching out to other people is a very fulfilling thing," Dave Jansa said. "It's sort of being part of a brotherhood of addicts."

But the real brotherhood with Tom has helped both of them address alcoholism as a disease, because they believe their struggles have been passed down from other family members.

"It's genetic, there's no question about it," Dave Jansa said. "There's a genetic component to it."

And that's why both brothers talk candidly with their own children about it. Dave has a 24-year-old son, while Tom has two daughters who are 17 and ten.

"I've been very open with both of my daughters," Tom Jansa said. "I've never tried to gloss over anything."

And neither of the brothers is glossing over this day, because when it comes down to it, being addicted to golf is better than being addicted to the bottle.

"It was my foothold or handhold on reality," Tom Jansa said. "It was something I could dive into and I've never looked back."

"We recognize golf for the way it teaches you so many things in life. So, in that way, it's a great game to be associated with," Dave Jansa said.

"The minute I stopped drinking, it just re-ignited that passion in me," Tom Jansa said.

The brothers both say one of the biggest obstacles is getting people to have a different perception of alcoholism. Dave says he specifically remembers hearing people say, 'oh, it's too bad you can't drink anymore,' and realizing that needs to be viewed as a positive and not a negative.

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