|2/9/2018 11:44:00 AM|
The story of an addict in recovery and his hope
When 45 year old Jami Lovaas was 17 years old he gave alcohol a try and found he never met a drink he didn't like.
Then came the drugs as he continued to chase the high.
"You name the drug and I probably took it," he said.
He then became a victim in the worst case scenario. He became an addict.
Trouble with the law followed as well as a long list of personal failures,
Jami dropped out of college because of the alcohol addiction and he started asking around as to "What else do you have?"
When the drugs came into the picture things got worse. He was married with a couple daughters but soon he lost the marriage, his credit, his employment and was facing jail.
He saw friends who were also addicts die and households destroyed. Things kept getting progressively worse.
"My addiction kept me from being a good parent and from being a productive member of society," he said. "My addiction, my divorce, my jail time....it is all public record."
But that did not stop him, at least for awhile.
When his scrapes with the law found the next step for him prison he knew he had to start the fight of his life. But how?
With his family behind him a facility was found in Florence, South Carolina that would accept him. The family split the initial cost and all court matters were put on hold while he would be in rehab.
The facility that accepted him was different from other programs as it was founded and is run by former addicts. The people helping Jami had "been there," so to speak and he soon knew in this one he truly had a chance for success.
The program follows the AA twelve step program. It requires the enrolled addict to find a job, secure a place to live and pay rent. The enrolled addict is also responsible for the costs associated with the program.
Jami has not had to go through the program alone. In February 2016 he started a relationship with Jamie Jelle who is also a recovering addict. The two had known each other while living in the Dodgeville area and ended up getting together. She is now his fiance and they are starting to plan a wedding.
They are facing the rehab together.
"All the things I have done wrong are public record so my recovery should also be public," he said. He realizes there is a stigma connected to addiction but he feels bad things can become good and sick things can become well.
He had sunk so low in his addiction that he spent time in detox and on suicide watch.
"An addict gets so wrapped up in being addicted that there seems to be no way out," he said. "You begin to feel you are no longer useful so why be here? You feel you can no longer contribute or offer a purpose. You feel useless and powerless."
"It became so that I was not in control of anything in my life," he continues. "I was in jail numerous times for disorderly conduct, possession and other related charges. I had no job and I drank morning, noon and night."
He was facing jail time and was researching rehab opportunities when he was arrested again. He thanks his mother who found Owl's Nest Recovery Community in South Carolina where upon acceptance the Court allowed him to go, putting off possible prison.
"It was time to do something to get my life turned around," Jami said. "No one forced me to go but I had no where else to turn. I figured what did I have to lose? My life was a complete mess."
With the support of his family and friends and the $1800 needed for the first session he was off the Owl's Nest.
"I had no insurance but that was not a problem for the Owl's Nest," Jami said. "I had to find a job and be responsible for my life along with going through the program."
Jami has gone through the depression, despair and the misery of being addicted. With rehab now finished he hopes all that is in the past.
He found a good job with a plumbing and electrical contractor and a nice place to live for he and Jamie. The former addicts who handled the rehab program took him through the 12 steps. He found the staff and the community quite loving.
"Owl's Nest is not a government run institution," Jami pointed out. "It helps others and eventually the clients help others."
Besides the hard work that goes with staying sober Jami hopes someday to open a recovery house of his own to help others in the way he has been helped.
Florence, SC is located just above the area of the country known as the Heroin Triangle. Florence is doing what it can to keep Heroin from spreading into the community by being very supporting of recovery and giving people a chance.
"It is a very warm and inviting community," he said.
That is just what he and his fiance need. He finds his time taken up by his work with the plumbing and electrical company and recovery.
"When I am not working everything else is recovery," he said.
Jami has come to view addiction not as a punishable crime but a sickness.
"You allow people with serious illnesses to receive support and care," he said. "It should be the same way for the addict. They need a way out. They need to know they will not be forced to live on the street and end up a victim of suicide. They are broken but they can be fixed with help."
He adds that fear, resentment and guilt are all feelings an addict has and can lead to further use of alcohol and drugs. He says that is a way of escape.
"Society has to step up," Jami feels. "Addicts need to be lifted up and know their lives matter," he said. "They need to know they can be productive in society. Society has to stop punishing and criminalizing and help addicts get the assistance they need."
He would like to see places where addicts can go for methadone treatment, safe injections and needle exchanges while they are detoxing.
"There is a lot of money spent in punishment that could be spent on health care and recovery," Jami said. "When addicts are sent to prison or they die of an overdose they get attention. Attention should be given for those in treatment and successful completion."
Jami sees addiction as an issue of society.
"We are all in this together," he said. "We have to figure out how to rid ourselves of the problem. It works in other countries so why not here?"
Now that he is done rehab he knows it is his turn to help others.
"Part of recovery is spreading the message," he says. "AA and NA are just part of it. We need to do outreach and celebrate recovery. We need to lift each other up."
"Many hundreds have been helped at Owl's Nest and we need more public run facilities,"he adds. "We need to show people resources and open doors for them. I wish we had more facilities like Owl's Nest so others could feel the love I felt when I walked into the place. I never thought I would feel love like that again."
Jami offers advice to those feeling addiction may be taken over them or someone they love.
"Reach out," he says. "Don't keep things to yourself. Keep talking about it and become aware. This is a problem that crosses all lines of society."
"It can be devastating but there is hope," he says. "Tell anyone who will listen."
For Jami the future is clear.
"I look forward to walking that path God takes me."
Jamie and Jami are dedicating their lives to a mission in conjuction with the rehab.
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