Avera Medical Minute: Solving substance abuse at the Avera Addiction Care Center

Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 3:32 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Avera Addiction Care Center has been assisting patients with substance abuse disorders for about two years. Now, the voluntary program has helped more than 500 people and has proven to be beneficial in limiting substance abuse. One of those 500-plus stories includes Norma Spanton. Throughout her journey, she says it has always been similar to a road trip. It has its stretches of peace, sometimes there is a wrong turn, but it is all part of the trip.

Norma says she never cared for alcohol growing up and her first drink came at about age 35. Roughly a year later, alcoholism began to take effect. She looked for help to overcome the issue and was able to string together five years of sobriety. Much like the aforementioned peaceful stretch on the road trip, things were going smoothly until one night Norma’s life came to a screeching halt.

“The turning point was my car accident,” Norma said.

Staff at the Avera Addiction Care Center say a relapse can be part of the recovery process, and it does not mean progress up until that point is for nothing. It is actually the opposite according to Avera Addiction Care Center Manager Malia Holbeck. She says, “When they do return to their day-to-day life, they have built the coping skills they need to be successful once they transition from our program.”

It made all the difference for Norma when she did not have to beat herself up following her relapse. Knowing that she was just continuing along her initial path instead of starting at square one was pivotal for her.

“This time what I did have with my relapse was a really bad car accident, but this time what I also had was really good tools,” Norma said. “I also had the knowledge that I didn’t have to start back at day one. I also knew in my head [and my] heart that I couldn’t have any more relapses. No more.”

She is almost two years sober and has a lot to look forward to as she pursues a master’s degree at the University of South Dakota, has a job she is proud of, and continues to spend time with her supportive family.

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