Eye on KELOLAND: A personal story of how The Link can connect


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Link in downtown Sioux Falls has now been open for nearly six months. It helps connect people with resources for substance abuse or mental health care.

27-year-old Dylan Doescher of Sioux Falls came to The Link for a few days earlier this year.

“It was a brief, not even a week,” Doescher said. “It was three days I was here, just for the detox process.”

These aren’t easy topics to discuss in front of a TV camera, and Doescher took KELOLAND News up on the offer to have his face in a shadow for this interview. He explains that he came to The Link because he was battling alcohol addiction.

“I was withdrawing from alcohol ’cause I suffer from alcoholism and just addiction in general,” Doescher said.

He describes The Link as “the perfect fit.”

“It was somewhere else besides institutions like [Avera] Behavioral Health and jail where a person can go who is in that position to get over those withdrawals to go through the detox process in a safe environment with trusted staff,” Doescher said.

“The vast majority of our clients come to us that are needing care related to addiction and substance use issues,” said Madeline Miller, nurse manager at The Link. “Sometimes folks are intoxicated, and they just need a safe place to be monitored until they become more sober. At that time we have the ability to offer them connections to local resources to support them or offer education about withdrawal management or recovery and treatment services.”

Miller says that as of mid-November, The Link had received 1,775 visits. Among those 1,775 are 763 different people.

“The other main service offering that we have is a medically-monitored detox program,” Miller said. “So we have an inpatient program where individuals can come and stay for a few days to visit with our care team, get through withdrawal.”

“One thing that I was very surprised to see is just the level of the need,” executive director Bill Earley said. “I mean, we expected there was a need, but it’s been very high.”

The Link is financed by both public and private money. Sanford Health, Avera Health, the City of Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County have all come together in this project.

“If The Link didn’t exist, we would be back to the pre-Link days and those who did not perhaps commit a crime or very low-level offender would end up in the Minnehaha County Jail,” Earley said. “They might end up in our emergency rooms.”

Dan Santella: If you didn’t have The Link as an option, what do you think would have happened with you?

“Well, as the big book says, jails, institutions or death,” Doescher said.

He spent the night at The Link where he became better acquainted with acceptance.

“I was just coming out of the denial stage, and this is where I started moving towards the acceptance,” Doescher said. “This was a very necessary stepping stone in that process to get me to where I am today.”

Given the sensitivity of these topics, KELOLAND News offered Doescher the opportunity to not have his real name used in this story; he declined. We asked him why.

“Because addiction thrives, it’s been hidden, it’s been pushed into the dark for so long,” Doescher said.

It’s approaching that time of year when we might more often wish people well: maybe a “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays” or “Happy New Year.” Doescher, too, has wishes.

“I hope anybody who does see this, if they are struggling with addiction, whatever that chemical or substance is, I hope you reach out, I hope you get help, and I hope you find the peace and the love that you deserve,” Doescher said.

He shared these thoughts with us days before Thanksgiving. But his world can be measured by time periods much shorter than 24 hours.

“I feel great, I mean, I take it day by day, sometimes moment by moment, second by second if I have to, but I’m doing better than I ever have before, and it just gave me clarity, and I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Doescher said. “So I’m getting to the point where I can possibly be okay again, and that’s really what I want is just some calm peace in my life.”

Doescher tells KELOLAND News he has been sober for more than two months.

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