Lifestyle

One man’s recovery from substance abuse sets path to help many others

Scott Weeman's long road back led him to found "Catholic in Recovery" ministry

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Shutterstock/Axel Bueckert

It seemed harmless enough at first. Scott Weeman found in alcoholic beverages a release from the stresses of everyday life and the pressure he put on himself to succeed.

But, little by little, an emotional pain surfaced, which he felt he needed to address with something stronger. So he started using illicit drugs.

That didn’t work, and his growing drug and alcohol addiction merely jeopardized the scholarship the Wisconsin native had won to study in New York.

Scott Weeman/Supplied
Scott Weeman/Supplied

Weeman moved in San Diego and, at age 21, got arrested for drunk driving. He went to a 15-day in-patient treatment program and managed to stay sober for eight months. Things were looking good when he started dating a woman from a “wonderful Catholic family.” Because of her, he got involved with her parish and made friends in an “incredible, thriving Young Adult community.”

But he couldn’t resist the lure of drugs and alcohol, and the relationship came to an end.

“I wasn’t at a point where I had given up my own power and will,” Weeman, 31, said in an interview this week. “I thought there still remained some power within me that could control my drinking, control my drug use and allow me to do so in a gentlemanly fashion. I was unable to get honest with myself and other people and have some of those necessary components of recovery: humility, honesty, open-mindedness, to do what it took to seek spiritual help and by the grace of God get sober.”

But, he said in a previous interview in Christopher Closeup, he eventually found a group of people who were “recovering from the same type of hopelessness. And it was their presence, their encouragement, and the sharing of what they had been through and [their] putting faith in a higher power that helped me get back on my feet.”

One friend from Young Adult Bible study was key to his getting on the right path, telling him that he wouldn’t be able to recover from his addiction without the grace of God.

The more Weeman studied the Bible, the more he discovered that even the holiest people lived sinful lives at some point. He said, “I got to know more of Christ’s teaching and familiarized myself with those who God called in the Old Testament. And I learned about Paul’s conversion from one who persecuted Christians to one who brought the Christian life to new worlds. I found that one need not be a holy, devout person for God to call them to good. And then, getting to know the stories of the saints brought us to another level. They were real-life examples over the past thousands of years of people who have turned their lives around and found that their struggle brought about humility and a sense of devout care for others and for the Lord.”

Weeman found great healing through the sense of community given to him by fellow recovering alcoholics. It taught him that he’s not alone in this battle: “I’m offered a daily reprieve based on the maintenance of my spiritual condition. And I can only maintain my spiritual condition through prayer and community.”

Weeman developed CatholicInRecovery.com, a website where he plans to use video content to reach people who are struggling with addiction, as well as others who simply want to “use the principles given by the 12-step program to better their lives.”

“I also see an online community growing, where others can bring their struggles to reach out for help – and their success stories to give others hope. I [also] want to provide an action plan for people to further strengthen their faith lives.” He wants to share the wisdom found in 12-step recovery programs and the Catholic Church and share his experiences with others who still suffer from addictions.

Weeman plans to build alliances with parishes, dioceses and schools in order to equip leaders “to serve those in need of recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction and other sorts of psychological dependencies such as gambling addiction and pornography addiction.”

Currently, he said, he is working with Catholic high school in San Diego, where he is based, to build a prevention program that helps use restorative justice and a “Christ-like approach to change a culture and keep kids from reaching the point where drug use and alcohol use are attractive.”

At a time when, according to some reports, addictions to illicit drugs like heroin and prescription opioid painkillers are skyrocketing in the United States, Weeman may find himself plenty busy.

“In some ways we have a culture that is in an individual sense becoming more isolating,” he told Aleteia. “We’re not made to live in isolation. People are trying to fill a God-sized hole in their hearts that comes with isolation with a quick fix.”

 

Shawn Neal

John Burger

John Burger is a news editor at Aleteia. He formerly worked at the National Catholic Register and Catholic New York in the Archdiocese of New York. He has also written for a wide variety of Catholic publications.