Dunn County (WQOW)- Sometimes the scariest demons are those that can't be seen, and the hardest fight is the one happening within oneself. In the Chippewa Valley one of those battles is with addiction. All too often we hear the horror stories of those losing that battle. Now survivors are speaking out, to bring a different story, one of victory.
One of those survivors is Stephanie Dolan. Dolan, 28, is a mother to a beautiful, healthy four month old son. But life hasn't always been so picture perfect.
"When I say losing grasp of reality, I created my own reality. I thought the mailman was a cop, the paranoia that comes over you. I had blankets over the windows, I had nails in the doors," Dolan said.
For ten years Dolan's days were defined by police sirens, broken down doors and jail cells.
"Meth took my soul, I don't know how to explain it. You get a craving for it that is unexplainable and you can't function without it. It's just something that has to happen and you'll do anything to get it," Dolan said.
After ten years of running and hiding, Dolan found herself bruised, broken and four months pregnant inside those familiar caged walls.
"I was so tired, I was so tired. That's the best way to describe it, I was exhausted, and I knew if I kept going I was going to die," Dolan said.
Dolan spent two and a half months in the Dunn County in-patient treatment program. While there she gave up everything, from her hometown to her social group. But in the process of losing everything she found herself. Marshfield Clinic Substance Abuse Director Sheila Weix said it's like taking back what drugs stole.
"It changes ones focus from taking care of their kids and going to work and having a place to live to seeking the drug, and ultimately that becomes the only thing that's important. And yet, that other person who valued those other things is still in there, if we can get the drug addiction piece managed to the point where that other person can come back out," Weix said.
Dolan attributes her success to forgiveness and self-acceptance, which Weix said is crucial to recovery.
"The behavior is not the person, I don't even like the term addict I don't use it, because the people have to come first. When you put labels on it reduces a person to a label. That doesn't help how the person feels about themselves," Weix said.
By letting go of guilt she grabbed a hold of a new life that's bigger than addiction.
"These goals I've had, you know people talk about an American dream and what you expect out of life, I'm living that now. I have a house, I can come home, I get to cook dinner, I have a son, I have a job. I have that now and it's not something that I thought I would ever have. I feel like that chapter of my life is finally coming to an end," said Dolan.
She's lit up her past path of darkness with a beacon of hope and carrying the message to never give up.
"Anybody deserves recovery, anyone. You just need to want it, and if you want it bad enough you're going to do whatever it takes. Don't give up hope, there's always hope," said Dolan.
If there's someone struggling with addiction in your family, Weix said the best thing to do is reach out to local physicians in order to better understand the addiction and to get set up with support groups.