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St. Francis Mission Recovery Programs…Can you imagine driving more than 90 miles to get to your weekly meeting?  What if you wanted to go to more than one a week but couldn’t because it was either too far away or you didn’t have adequate transportation? What would you do, and more importantly, who would you turn to?  These issues, sadly, are run of the mill problems for those recovering from alcoholism and addiction on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  The reservation is home to the Lakota (Sioux Indian) people, many of whom suffer from the problems mentioned above.  Two recovery centers – the Icimani Ya Waste Recovery Center and White River Recovery Center – are working to help those who suffer from addiction on the Rosebud Reservation.  The centers are run by members of the Lakota tribe / the St. Francis Mission (link:  They help coordinate 12 step meetings for those in need, provide space for those meetings to take place, give referrals to treatment centers and support for the families of those suffering from addiction.  In talking to the coordinators to the two recovery centers, it is clear that the need for recover is strong on the reservation.  Jim Stands, director of the White River Recovery Center, states, the people on the Reservation are affected by the disease of addiction.  Whole families – from great grandchildren to great grandparents – are affected, and in turn, addiction affected the community and the whole Lakota nation (called the oyate).  When an individual wants to overcome their addiction, they face challenges that are above and beyond what someone who lives off a Reservation might face.  One of the open AA groups that meets on Wednesdays at the White River Recovery Center is called the “Out of Towners” meeting for a reason.  Many of the individuals who attend this group live far away from where the meeting is held, but make the long drive every week to support each other in sobriety.  The St. Francis Mission and the Recovery Centers have partnered with the Betty Ford Institute to provide educational programing to address the effects addiction has on the family.  Participants of the Betty Ford Family Program learn to set boundaries, control codependency issues, and communication skills so they can express emotions and feelings in a healthy constructive way.  The recovery programs combine Lakota traditions with more traditional recovery content.   by Corrie Oberdin

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April 2011