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Eau Claire woman celebrates two years of sobriety, shares her story

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - After battling years of addiction, facing child neglect charges and surviving an overdose, one Eau Claire woman is now celebrating two years of sobriety, and sharing her story to let others know that they're not alone and they too can lead better lives with a little help.

"I never thought I'd be two years sober," said Rochelle Weissinger. "I didn't even think I'd make it 24 hours."

The Rochelle Weissinger people see now would be hard to recognize just three years ago.

"I can wake up every morning and feel good about who I am."

In 2017, Rochelle was abusing narcotics and alcohol and having suicidal thoughts. Her lifestyle lead to an overdose, which cost her custody of her children, and charges of child neglect.

Because of those heart wrenching mistakes, Rochelle said she's faced scrutiny from the community both in person and online.

"There was so many years of, 'Is she going to get her life together?,' 'Is she going to make it or is she going to prison?,' 'Is she even going to live?'" said Rochelle.

Her life started to turn around June 17, 2018. That was the day Rochelle stopped using drugs and alcohol. Now two years later, she is sober, happy and continuing to improve her mental and physical health.

"I can't ever just stop working on my recovery," said Rochelle. "I have to work on it every single day, or I could relapse, and that's not what I want. I want a better life, and today I do."

Part of what's keeping her on the path to a better life is Eau Claire County's AIM court, which stands for Alternative to Incarcerating Mothers.

The system is a multi-step program that helps criminally charged mothers struggling with mental health or addiction.

"Prison is not the answer for addicts," said Rochelle. "The therapy, the treatment, everything that they have to offer you is so much better than having to sit behind bars. You're just going to get out and do the same old thing, because they don't give you the opportunity to get the help inside."

Now, Rochelle is able to care for her four-month-old son full time. She also keeps in regular contact with her older children.

Rochelle will graduate out of AIM court in September. She wants others to see that if she can make it out alive and thriving, so can they.

"I never really finished anything in my life," Rochelle said. "I'm grateful to have the opportunity to be able to graduate from a program that has helped save my life.

Rochelle will soon be in her final phase of AIM court, which includes going to therapy and continuing to work on relapse prevention.

She encourages others in a similar situation to the one she was in years ago to seek out the resources the county has, such as AIM court, recovery court or veteran's court. She also said there's plenty of support groups on social media, and it helps to have people in their corner.

Rochelle said getting that help and choosing to be sober is something you have to commit yourself to, but slip ups and relapses along the way are part of the path to a healthier life.

Mary Pautsch

Mary came to News 18 in July 2019 from Sioux City, Iowa where she graduated from Morningside College with a BA in Spanish after attending Iowa State University for 3 years.

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