Jamie Donaldson | Survivor of Addiction

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I’m James (Jamie) Donaldson and I am an addict. My life before drugs and alcohol was pretty good. I grew up in Dell Rapids and had a fairly happy childhood. Somewhere in my freshman year of high school I went to a party and had my first experience with drinking alcohol and loved it.  After that I began drinking every weekend and around my senior year whenever I could get alcohol.

Around this time (1987) I started to play drums in a rock band with my cousin and a couple friends. We became good enough to start opening up for bigger bands at street dances and bars and I became swept up in the lifestyle. There was lots of drinking and partying and I was introduced to pot and other drugs. I was hooked and became not only willing but excited to try any new chemical I was offered. A couple years after high school we were living in a party house, getting into bars and my life was a blur. I lived to use whatever I could find and stayed messed up on whatever I could for those years.

There came a point where I knew I had a problem. I thought if I got away for a while I could stop drinking so much and maybe get away from the drugs. I started and within a year drank and used myself out of college and got kicked out of the band. I went to work on the road only to discover that no matter where I went this problem with drugs and alcohol always followed.

Sometime in 1991 I ended up meeting and started dating my future wife. At that time she didn’t drink and helped me to stop. Besides pot, I managed to stay away from the harder drugs for a while. We moved in together and got married. The next year someone introduced us to meth. I think we both were hooked after about a month of using it. After about a year we knew things were getting bad; we lost our apartment, our jobs, and ended up living with her mom. We managed to clean up for about a couple years after that and had two children and moved back to Dell Rapids.

Like I’d discovered in the past my problem always followed and within a year the using and drinking followed. We ended up divorced and my now ex took off, leaving me to raise the kids alone. I know that had my mother not been there for the next few years to help me out, I’d have lost my kids. At 34, I went to treatment for the first time. My mom took my kids while I was away and things got better for the first time in years.

I managed to stay clean and sober off and on, going to 12 step recovery meetings for a couple years. Life was a struggle but I managed ok until 2010, when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Within the next two years things got very bad. As her cancer got worse, I started drinking and using more and more. After her passing, I was lost. She was my safety net and now she was gone. My children suffered and I lost all control. I couldn’t stand who I was anymore and came to believe that everyone including my children would be better off without me.

I was working for one of the hospitals at this time and had seen a presentation for Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls. I was desperate and scared but I called and the lady that answered saved my life!! She was compassionate and talked me into coming in and meeting with her. After our meeting she and the staff at Face It TOGETHER got me resources and contacts at my work to secure my job and get me into outpatient treatment through my work. And my life changed like I never imagined it could!!  I’ve been totally clean and sober for over a year now (the longest I have ever been) and am happy and recovering from this horrible disease for the first time in 25 years.

Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls helped change my life and I love what they stand for, the people that work and volunteer there, and their mission to wipe out addiction!!!! I’ve been blessed because they were there to help me so now I am honored to be able to help out and share in their mission by becoming one of their volunteers.  Thank you Face It TOGETHER!!!!!!!!!