It's the number one health issue in South Dakota, but most of the time it goes untreated. An estimated one in ten people suffers from drug or alcohol problems. And those who do get help sometimes struggle to find the support they need after treatment.
For a Sioux Falls woman, part of that support came in the form of a sober community, specifically a sober house. They really are a buffer between treatment and real-life, and without them, Carrie Nielson says she wouldn't have made it.
“It's easy to lie to men; it's easy to lie to people who aren't in recovery. But addicts, especially other women, can see right through your lies, so it really helps you to be honest,” Nielson said.
And Nielson says it’s what she needed. She moved out of 30-day in-patient treatment program right into a sober house full of other women just like her. She started a program and began learning to cope with everyday life while concentrating on recovery.
“A lot of people, if they go back to their life they came from, it's just a set-up for relapse,” Nielson said.
So for four months, Nielson lived in the house, next door to neighbors with families in an ordinary neighborhood. The house is in some ways its own village among the city's streets. She says sometimes people hear the word "sober house" and think violence. In reality, the houses are places for people of all walks in life who just need some extra support to stay clean and sober.
“It's like a 3/4 house. It's not half way. It's like you're almost back in the world, but surrounding yourself with a buffer that helps you stay and get into that habit of going to meetings and being honest,” Nielson said.
Some houses are for men; others are for women. All of them are communities of like-minded people just trying to make it through those first tough times after treatment, working a program, making a conscious decision to stay sober so eventually they can go out on their own.
“I needed that support system, and I especially needed women,” Nielson said.
Nielson was in the house just four months, but she says other women have lived there for up to two years. Each struggle with addiction and recovery is unique to each individual.
We will share stories from all walks of life in an hour-long special Monday night on KELOLAND Television at 7 p.m.