Longtime lawman’s daughter graduates from drug court


Drug courts have transformed many lives. KELOLAND News has brought you the emotional graduations from drug court in the past. But Thursday’s ceremony comes with the lesson that addiction doesn’t discriminate.

45-year-old Shawna Severson has battled addiction for 20 years.

“I was prescribed a pill; going from the pills and then the pills didn’t work for me. I went straight to meth and after that it was IV use with methamphetamine,” Severson said.

Severson racked up felony charges and even spent time in the women’s prison.

“After losing everything I was down to just a tote of my clothes and that was it,” Severson said.

While this is her second stint in drug court, it’s her first graduation from the program.

“In my addiction I was lost and today I found out who I am and I’m not lost anymore,” Severson said.

Judge Pat Riepel hugs Shawna Severson as she graduates from drug court

Severson missed out on much of her three children’s lives during her active use of methamphetamine.

“I thought maybe she was never going to be back in my life,” Daughter Allysa Huber said.

Now with a year and a half of sobriety under the her belt, Shawna is rebuilding those relationships. She’s even a grandmother of two.

“We grew so close. I tell her everything. I call her everyday. From not talking at all to now I see her almost every day,” Huber said.

Perhaps most surprising about Shawna’s story is the man proudly observing this milestone–her dad, Jim. Jim Severson spent decades working in law enforcement arresting people, like his own daughter.

“I think that was really hard for him. He’s definitely come around and changed. We’re definitely at a better place today than we were a long time ago,” Shawna said.

Drug court gives participants all the tools they need to find recovery. Once they graduate, it’s up to them to stay there.

“They need to learn to stay strong and they have to really want this to succeed,” Michelle Boyd, Minnehaha County Program and Services Manager said.

“You can overcome meth addiction and you can get your life back,” Severson said.

Drug court started in Minnehaha County in 2011 and has graduated 87 people. There are currently 70 participants

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