Real stories about addiction

In this real story about addiction, meet Marylee and Cowboy from the Rosebud Reservation in Lakota Country, South Dakota. They share their story about alcoholism and meth addiction in an exclusive interview here.

minute read

The Fast HorsesMarylee and Cowboy – are a couple in recovery who exude the experience, strength and hope that recovery from drugs and alcohol can offer. Living on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, they share their story to show others who are suffering from drug and alcohol addiction that recovery is possible.


Marylee, who is 7 years sober, is the manager of KINI FM, a local radio station on the Rosebud Reservation that is affiliated with the St. Francis Mission. Cowboy, who is 6 years sober, owns his own construction business. They own cattle, have a house and are heavily involved in church and in their community.

It wasn’t always the case. Marylee and Cowboy are both originally from the Rosebud Reservation, but met in Portland, OR. Cowboy moved to Portland for a job, where Marylee was already living and working. When they first met, he was drinking, but she had been sober for 6 months. They were married just two months after meeting.

Despite knowing that she needed to stay sober, Marylee began drinking shortly after she and Cowboy met. Cowboy said “I brought my drinking and drug use to the relationship.” While in Portland, they began a cycle of drinking and drug use that would drive them both to use meth. Within a year’s time, they had both lost their jobs.

“The bad part of meth and other drugs is that there is so much paranoia. We weren’t getting along, and we couldn’t let each other out of our sight,” says Marylee. “It was a really ugly, dark year. Eventually, I left and came home to the Rosebud Reservation.” Cowboy followed her back to the Rosebud.

Their marriage was in shambles and they stayed on the Reservation, living with relatives while using drugs and drinking. Cowboy turned to selling drugs and was eventually caught, and ultimately, served three years in prison for selling drugs.

Almost a year before Cowboy was arrested for selling drugs, Marylee had decided to get sober. Cowboy followed her down the sober path shortly after. When he was arrested for an earlier drug deal, he had been sober for several months.

The St. Francis Mission, Catholicism and AA all played a part in their recovery. Around the time of Cowboy’s arrest, they were invited to the baptism of a relative at the St. Francis Mission. Marylee was Catholic, but didn’t practice. Cowboy had stayed away from spiritual things, remember that his parents told him “Not to go around churches or sweat lodges while drinking or using.“They went to the baptism, and from that day on, Marylee says, she knew she had to be involved church.

The Fast Horses started going to church – every Sunday – and church has become a big part of their lives. They take full advantage of everything the Mission has to offer – attending Church functions, going to AA meetings at the recovery center, and becoming involved in the community. They enjoy a special relationship with the president of the Mission, Father Hatcher. Before Cowboy left for prison, Father Hatcher gave Cowboy his rosary and asked him to pray for him – and told Cowboy that in return, he would pray for Cowboy.

One of the things the Fast Horses also spoke of was one particular AA meeting they go to – Monday Night Madness, a co-ed group that Marylee started when Cowboy had gone away to prison. The group has grown over the past five years. Because meetings on the Rosebud Reservation are far apart, once a month, they try to take their entire group to other AA meetings on the Rosebud. They also sometimes arrange taking their group community to a social event like the movies.

The Fast Horses work with others, via sponsorship and by visiting people in need. Together, they show others on the Rosebud (and elsewhere!) that sobriety is both possible and joyful.

About St. Francis Mission & Recovery Centers

Icimani Ya Waste Recovery Center is one of two recovery centers offered by the St. Francis Mission. We offer 12 step meetings and a Family Recovery Program in conjunction with Betty Ford. St. Francis Mission is a ministry of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) among the 20,000 Lakota (Sioux) people on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in south-central South Dakota. It is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1886. To learn more about the Mission and its recovery programs for addictions, visit their website.



About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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