Dave Jansa has been sober for more than 25 years. He's now using his experience to try and help others face their own addictions. Jansa says misconceptions about addiction make it difficult to remove the stigma often associated with it.
"The addict's brain is, to some degree, hijacked. They're in a very puzzled world and they can't see a way out," Jansa said.
Jansa found his way out of a seemingly endless cycle of drinking alone and drinking too much, but he still understands that facing an addiction is a very hard process.
"Sometimes as a society, we look at it and think it's so simple. 'Why wouldn't someone just quit? Why would they go out and do such terrible things to other people in society when it's just so simple, all they have to do is quit.' It's not that simple," Jansa said.
Jansa says that once an addiction grabs ahold of someone, it's difficult to turn things around. For him, it took first accepting that he had a problem with alcohol, before he could take the first step toward recovery.
"My first step in confronting my addiction was to try to quit on my own, which I think is almost universal, is that the addict will say to themselves 'I recognize that I have a problem. I'm a strong-willed individual,'" Jansa said.
Only Jansa faltered on that first step, and the multiple attempts after that weren't anymore successful.
"It almost always has a level of difficulty. For some, it's easier than others. But for some, it can be extremely difficult and even impossible," Jansa said.
It was a final step that finally led Jansa to a life free of addiction. Not addressing the problem, he says, can lead to tragic consequences.
"I think we need to continue to look and ask ourselves if we are serving the individuals that might be addicted in the best way that we can and serving society the best way we can," Jansa said.
As the fight against addiction continues, Jansa hopes that those still struggling with the problem will be able to start on a path to recovery before it's too late.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, help is available through Face It Together by calling 605-274-2262.