State Legislator Hopes Daughter’s Addiction Recovery Can Inspire Others


South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is pledging to take on meth addiction.  During her State of The State Address earlier this week,  Noem said she’ll work to expand prevention and treatment programs in the state. That’s an encouraging set of proposals to one South Dakota lawmaker, who takes meth addiction very personally.

Jean Hunhoff is a Republican State Representative from Yankton.   She knows all about the emotional trauma families go through when a loved one is struggling with addiction.  Her only daughter was arrested for meth possession as a teenager.  Hunhoff credits a faith-based program for helping turn her daughter’s life around.

Representative Jean Hunhoff says she was devastated when her teenage daughter Abbey ended up in a juvenile lockup for meth possession.

“She had an orange suit on, she’s a sophomore in high school and she got scared.  That was the first time that I saw this this was really hitting her,” Hunhoff said. 

It was a time when meth was just gaining a drug-trafficking toe-hold in South Dakota.   Abbey, who’s now 30, went through treatment at Keystone in Canton and then to the faith-based program Teen Challenge in Illinois.

“It was a horrible trip.  I cried the whole way because here I was, leaving our daughter in a place that I didn’t know what it was like,” Hunhoff said.

But Hunhoff says her daughter’s time at Teen Challenge made a huge difference.   Following treatment, Abbey Hunhoff went onto college at Mount Marty and received her Masters Degree from USD.  She’s now a mother of two and works with addicts at Lewis and Clark Behavioral Health in Yankton.

Representative Hunhoff says her daughter’s recovery can give other families hope when it comes to overcoming addiction. 

“Things happen for a reason and I always believe that no matter how traumatic or how bad, there is a silver lining and I think this experience grew her.  Terrible way to experience and grow, but she is giving so much back now,” Hunhoff said.

Representative Hunhoff would like to see more treatment options available for women and girls.  Teen Challenge has a facility in South Dakota,  but it’s for men only.   KELOLAND News recently profiled the Brookings program

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