Saturday, October 25, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Couples share stories of addiction, recovery

recovery couples, 9/13/12

Mel and Dave Schrum, photographed at the Unity Hall in downtown Fairfield where they volunteer. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

By
From page D1 | September 16, 2012 |

FAIRFIELD — Mel and David Schrum have an agreement. The first one who starts using alcohol and/or drugs ends their seven-year marriage.

The Fairfield residents are among several couples in recovery who regularly donate their time and regularly attend events at Fairfield’s Unity Hall, which serves as a one-stop shop for people in recovery.

September is National Recovery Month. It is designed to promote the benefits of prevention, treatment and recovery for mental- and substance-abuse disorders. Statistics say nearly 23 million American adults report they have overcome a problem with drugs or alcohol.

The Schrums, “the old-timers” at Unity Hall, are among those 23 million.

Mel Schrum, who started drinking in junior high, has been living a sober life since June 24, 1988.

“I am really proud of my 24 years in recovery,” she said. “If I would start to use, I’d go back to being a crankster. I would lose my 24 years, my friends and my husband.”

During her addiction, which spanned about 20 years, Schrum spent times homeless and in jail.

“I was pretty naive about how bad I was. I kept chasing the high I never found,” Mel Schrum said.

At one point, she was clean for two years and thought “normally.” She got her car back, a job and become a contributing member of society.

“Then I scored some dope and I was back on it harder than I was before,” she said. She was back before the judge again, this time given a second chance and mandated to attend 12-step meetings.

At the time there weren’t too many choices for recovery and the prevailing thought was “once an addict, always an addict,” Mel Schrum said. “It’s come a long way since 1988,” she said.

David Schrum’s story is similar. He used drugs and alcohol for many years. He also spent time on the streets.

“I was in so much pain. I didn’t want to live that way. I thought about committing suicide,” he said.

His sister intervened and saved his life, he said. She called Veterans Affairs and was able to get him into a 28-day treatment program. However, after 16 days, he was going to be transferred to another facility and needed his military discharge papers.

He couldn’t find them. While waiting for a copy, his mother, who had kicked him out of her house prior, let him stay with her. He said that helped keep him sober.

Reflecting on his days using drugs, David Schrum said he did “things he would never do clean and sober.”

His clean date is March 24, 1992. David Schrum still attends two to three 12-step meetings a week. Mel Schrum attends about the same number on a monthly basis.

The couple serves as mentors to those new to recovery.

“Dave and Mel have been so involved with helping others for many, many years. They get so blessed because they bless other people,” said Roger Maryatt of Unity Hall. “When young people come in and are introduced to Dave and Mel it gives them instant hope.”

Shawn Snell and Cindy Crist are among those inspired by the Schrums’ length of time in recovery. Both have been sober for about five years.

Snell, who grew up in Suisun City, was introduced to methamphetamine when he was 17.

“I thought it was the greatest thing. I felt I could achieve anything, that I could do anything,” he said.

Crist was the same age when she was introduced to the same drug.

“I felt pressured into doing it and at the same time, it intrigued me,” she said. “I felt like I wanted to fit in. It made me feel like I fit in better. I felt it gave me self-esteem.”

Within a year of finishing high school, Crist had her first child.

“I used in my last month of pregnancy,” she said. Then, she welcomed another daughter.

She moved home with her parents and would use “every day, all day.”

“My girls were with me, but I was not emotionally available for them,” she said. At one point, her parents threatened to pursue custody of Crist’s daughters.

An abusive marriage made things worse, as Crist was dependent on her husband to get her drugs. When they split, she lost that connection.

Looking back, Crist said she did a lot of things she was not proud of.

“I stole left and right (to get money for drugs),” she said. “I was the type who would steal money out of your wallet, then help you look for it.”

Crist hit bottom on New Year’s Eve 2007. She sat in a hotel room and cried, and when she left, she was pulled over by the police and spent a week in jail.

“I had never been in trouble before,” she said.

Snell had made past attempts in recovery that were unsuccessful. He graduated from some residential treatment programs, would get on probation and “get tempted and turn back to drugs and alcohol.” Like David Schrum, he considered suicide.

“I hated where I was in life. I had no driver’s license. My boss had given up on me,” he said. “I was not going anywhere in life. ”

The couple attends at least two 12-step meetings a week. Crist also volunteers at Unity Hall twice a week. Snell is Unity Hall’s treasurer.

The Schrums, Crist and Snell say recovery is a step-by-step process. “It can be successful,” David Schrum said. “It takes a lot of work.”

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or amaginnis@dailyrepublic.net. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • DeniseSeptember 17, 2012 - 7:20 pm

    My uncle, my hero :) You've come a looooooooooooooong way, baaaaaaaaaaaaybeh! :) Love you....love the article : )

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
 
No new murder trial for Calkins, judge rules

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Optimist Club brings youth together for Halloween golf

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Cut-a-thon to help fight cancer, abuse

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Fall Harvest Festival brings children back to school

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

School board candidates forum set next week

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A4

 
Haunted hikes offered for brave souls at park

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Staying active may prolong your life

By Scott Anderson | From Page: B8

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

.

US / World

Suspect arrested in death of 2 California deputies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
KC-10 from Travis lands in Houston, smoke in cockpit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Reagan astrologer, Joan Quigley, dies at 87

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Jury says castrated sex offender should be freed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Remains belong to missing Virginia student

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Dallas nurse receives thanks, hug from Obama

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

School gunman was Homecoming prince, students say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Lava creeps toward road on Hawaii’s Big Island

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

NY, NJ order Ebola quarantine for doctors, others

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Gunman in Canada attack complained about mosque

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Egypt declares emergency in northern Sinai

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Militant group said to be using chlorine bombs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Putin accuses US of undermining global stability

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Opinion

Return Garamendi to Congress

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Editorial Cartoons: Oct. 25, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

SEIU shouldn’t own Board of Supervisors

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Vote, and make a difference

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Yes on Measure A

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Spering best choice for county supervisor

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My mother-in-law wants me to convert to Catholicism, but I don’t want to

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Hello Kitty turning 40, and the birthday bash will be ‘supercute’

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: B8

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B9

 
TLC cancels its ‘Honey Boo Boo’ series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

P.D. James’ riff on Jane Austen comes to TV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
.

Sports

Vintage rolls past Armijo, 55-8

By Mike Corpos | From Page: B1

 
Mustangs fall flat in rout by Wildcats

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1

Royals beat Giants 3-2 for 2-1 World Series lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Vargas to take on Vogelsong in Game 4 of Series

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Falcons hang with Wolves in 34-8 setback

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Hamilton helps Vanden sink Vallejo, 35-0

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

Unfazed, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh doing it his way

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Lloyd leads US women past Mexico 3-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raiders’ Woodley, Young expected to be placed on IR

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Henley’s putting gets him lead at Sea Island

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Judge halts New Jersey’s sports betting plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Joe Maddon exercises opt-out, won’t return to Rays

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jamie McMurray bests Chase drivers to win pole

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Attorney: NFL, Ravens not helping union in Rice probe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

SCC women’s soccer team falls to Mendocino 3-1

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

US official: Auto safety agency under review

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Ford profit falls in third quarter on truck costs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Procter & Gamble taking out its batteries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
UPS expects double-digit surge in Dec shipments

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

US new-home sales close to flat in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Obituaries

Melvin Tate

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Mark Dean Lindsay

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Dr. Robert M. Takamoto

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
.

Home Seller 10/25/14

Real estate transactions for Oct. 25, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2