SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — You’re about to meet two women who defy the stereotypes surrounding meth addiction.
But both lost everything when they were using the drug.
“I grew up in a Catholic home. I went to a Catholic school. My dad was in law enforcement,” Rebecca Skinner said.
“(I) Participated in everything; music, band, every sport,” Rebecca Hungerford said.
Rebecca Hungerford and Rebecca Skinner have more in common than their first names. After they had grown up, gotten jobs and had children they both became addicted to methamphetamine.
“I wasn’t afraid to try anything because I just didn’t think it would affect me,” Hungerford said.
“When I did this drug, I felt like Superwoman, honestly,” Skinner said.
“You just constantly seek that again and again and again,” Hungerford said.
“The first time you do it, it becomes a choice. After that is when you start to realize you don’t have a choice anymore, because it takes such control of you, you now feel you can’t live without it; you can’t function without it. You can’t get out of bed,” Skinner said.
Eventually both women found their worlds unraveling.
“I went from running a luxury automobile business to jumping in dumpsters to find copper; things I could take to turn in for money. It takes everything that you love away from you; including yourself–who you are as a person–including your soul, is gone. Everything is gone inside,” Hungerford said.
“I wasn’t being a parent; I wasn’t being good for them. I was not mom material. As much as it pained me and hurt me and it crushed me to this day; watching my children walk out the door–it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough for me to want to stop at that point,” Skinner said.
But this is where their stories take different turns. Skinner was able to stop using and get her life back together, only to turn to meth a decade later at 40.
“I was living in my car. At some points I had my grandson with me. We were sleeping in the back of the truck in Walmart parking lots,” Skinner said.
The women’s stories lined up again when they were each arrested for drugs within a year of one another.
“I went in on a misdemeanor and I came out with four felonies. I remember walking out and just breaking down. How did I become this person? Skinner said.
“I could not do it alone. The love for my child was not enough. I needed other people who could love me until I learned to love myself again,” Hungerford said.
For Hungerford she found that love at a sober living house in Omaha called the Oxford House.
“We take that for granted, we have all kinds of sober living houses. I can’t imagine getting out of jail and looking up three-quarter houses and not having one,” Alva said.
Jackie Alva is a former Oxford House resident who now helps start them all over the country.
“They took me by the hand and showed me what recovery was about. You have to get a sponsor, you have to work the steps, you have to get a job, you have to pay your rent, you have to do your chores,” Alva said.
Oxford Houses are now in all but three states; soon that number will be down to two. Alva is in Sioux Falls to help Hungerford and Skinner open an Oxford House here. It’s a vision both women discovered they also shared.
“It was just kind of an ‘oh my gosh’ moment. Because it was almost at the same time we both realized and we both said, that this is something we have dreamed of since we started out in recovery,” Skinner said.
“Things started happening and falling into place. The right people started showing up and here we are! Hungerford said.
Those “right people” include Hungerford’s family. They have helped purchase a house in central Sioux Falls and are now all working together to create the first Oxford House here for women in recovery.
“Addiction is not just for the addicted. It is an affliction of family and friends–so deeply affects everyone in the life of the addict and it’s such a beautiful thing for me to share this with my family that they’re all so involved in this because now we get to take the pain and the struggle and turn it into something where we are going to help other people through that,” Hungerford said.
“It’s going to be a safe, sober place for people getting out of treatment; for people coming into drug court–to learn how to live their lives sober,” Alva said.
“There’s no better feeling than being out there and trying to make a difference. And if we can make a difference one person at a time, we’re doing what we set out to do,” Skinner said.
The home will welcome its first residents in July. The women hope it is the first of many Oxford Houses in Sioux Falls. They say they are in need of household items and will welcome everything from appliances to lawn care. If you’d like to donate you can email: Siouxfallsoxfordhouse@gmail.com
Or go to the Sioux Falls Oxford House Facebook page.