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Published on November 24, 2020

Greg Sands

How Greg Sands Found Hope in Addiction Recovery

Greg Sands knows the pain of addiction. Broken relationships. Living one paycheck away from homelessness. Resorting to illegal activity. Consoling himself that at least he wasn’t as bad as “Joe.”

He knows because he’s been there. He also knows the hard work and rewards of recovery.

The Disease of Addiction

“Addiction is an insidious, relentless disease,” Sands said. “But I want anybody suffering from this disease or their family members to know that there’s hope. If I can recover from this, anybody can.”

Sands, owner of Sands Drywall in Sioux Falls, S.D., grew up in a broken home and turned to drinking and drugs as a teen to mask his pain.

“No one says, ‘I want to become an addict and become incarcerated.’ It’s a very subtle road.”

Sands learned the drywall trade and was recognized for his talent and skills – until he didn’t show up for work on a Monday morning. “My boss told me, ‘I don’t care how good you are. It’s irrelevant if you can’t make it to work.’”

He got into dealing drugs. “Most of the drugs I got I took myself.”

Sands recognizes that his arrest and prison sentence for dealing drugs were necessary to stop the deadly path he was on. “It’s what I needed to save my life.”

About a year into his two-year incarceration, he experienced a moment of clarity. “I realized that it was my fault. I needed to take responsibility for my actions. That changed everything.” Ten years after his release from prison, Sands received a presidential pardon.

Paying it Forward

Today, as a successful business owner, he’s paying it forward. “Being of service to God and others helps me stay grounded,” Sands said.

He has generously invested his time and financial resources toward the development of the Avera Addiction Care Center – a residential addiction treatment center in Sioux Falls.

He and other focus group members, many of whom are people in addiction recovery or family members, gave input that helped shape the building design and programming.

Chef-inspired food was a “biggie” for Sands. “That person who has lost their drug of choice needs to find other ways to feel comforted and satisfied. Perhaps they have gone without nourishing food for some time while feeding their drug or alcohol habit,” he said. Residents at the Avera Addiction Care Center enjoy three hearty meals a day with 24-hour access to snacks, bottled water, tea, coffee and soft drinks.

The focus group identified key details for comfortable, private sleeping quarters; indoor and outdoor gathering spaces; and evidence-based programs in an environment that conveyed a sense of respect, confidence and hope. “We were so cognizant of the fact we’re dealing with people’s lives here,” Sands said.

As an employer, Sands is known for his willingness to give someone a second chance; to encourage someone to get addiction help without judgment, stigma or any hint of retaliation.

He credits his miracle of recovery to the grace of God, as well as his own hard work and the mutual support that he and his wife, Pam, provide to each other. “Every day for me is Greg paying attention to his surroundings. I’m careful not to put myself in a vulnerable position,” Sands said.

Getting Help for Addiction

It’s not uncommon for individuals, families or employers to seek out Sands’ advice when facing an alcohol or drug problem. He’ll ask a probing question: “Are you ready to get help? Have you had enough pain?”

He urges individuals and families to consider drug addiction as an urgent, life-threatening condition. “I’ve done three eulogies for people who died from their addiction. I want to tell families to not procrastinate. Reach out to someone and do it fast, because that person’s life is on the line.”

To learn more about help for addiction, call the Avera Addiction Care Center at 605-504-2222 or Avera’s 24-hour assessment line at 800-691-4336.

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