You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth saying again and again: Addiction does not discriminate, and it can happen to anyone.
In rural North Dakota, it’s happening to kids. Those that are struggling now as adults, started out young, trying to kill time in a town where it’s either the norm, or there’s no one around to warn you of the consequences.
Pete Dewald shared his story: “I grew up in Wishek, North Dakota. Small town, about 1,000 people. When I was about 12 or 13, I drank alcohol for the first time: vodka, I drank to get blacked-out, I did. And by about age 14, I tried meth.”
Dewald says as time went on, it only got worse. The meth became an everyday habit, and by 25, he was using IVs.
“Looking back, I mean I think I was just missing something inside. I’m not sure why. I was just looking for a way to escape reality,” he added.
Out in rural North Dakota, it took 10 years before the consequences hit. With little resources around, he moved to Bismarck in 2016 to try to make a change.
“Me and my parents, we didn’t know of anything to do. You could maybe go to the hospital, but you know, that’s maybe a day or two,” Dewald explained.
But it took more than one try. Dewald dropped out of treatment and started selling meth as a way to make money, and to make sure it was always available.
“It was a fear of running out. You know, I wanted to be high and stay high all the time. It was the only way I knew,” he shared.
In 2018, Dewald was federally indicted.
“And that’s when I went to jail. And even after being released on pre-trial release in 2018, I couldn’t stay sober, even with fear driving that, you know ‘I need to stay sober. I’m out on bond,'” he shared.
The solution was inpatient treatment at Heartview, and now, he’s been in a sober living home for several months.
“I mean the amount of lives you touch. You don’t realize it at the time. I mean I’ve now gotten a chance to look at that and accept responsibility for what I have done,” he explained.
In the end, it took a change of mindset, that many in recovery say, isn’t easy to come by in small towns.
Dewald says you have to have something driving you to get to where he’s at. For him, it’s his family and wanting to stay alive.
He says for those who really want help, there are resources, but you have to be honest with yourself. And right now, you have to be willing to move to the city.