FREEDOM FRIDAY: Stephanie Wedel

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 5:03 PM CDT
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NICEVILLE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Newschannel 7 highlights an overcomer of addiction of the Freedom Friday segment.

This week’s overcomer says you should never stop praying for your addicted loved one.

Stephanie Wedel says her mother is a good example of this.

“She’s the reason that I’m standing here today. I attribute my life, my brother’s life, to a praying Mama,” says Stephanie, adding that it took 17 years, but her mother’s prayers for a sober family were finally answered.

“My father was a drug dealer, so we grew up in that kind of lifestyle with people in and out of our house,” she explains.

She says she was doing drugs she would steal from her father by age 11, was drinking alcohol by age 13, was selling drugs by age 15 and became homeless at age.

“I had crashed my car into a tree. It was not the first time I wrecked my car, but it was the last. That tree forced me to change my path,” Stephanie said.

She says a neighborhood friend told her she could do better in life than she was and encouraged her to join the service, so off to the Army she went.

She says it helped her learn discipline, but made her mentally worse.

“I had a traumatic event while deployed to Iraq and adding that on top of all the other things that I had lived through, I continued to self-medicate with alcohol,” Stephanie added.

A college degree later, she says she became a high-functioning alcoholic, but the addiction was no match for her mother’s faith.

She says her mother consistently invited her to church, which she attended on a limited basis at first.

“It took God three years to break through my stubbornness and actually get me to hit my knees and ask him to change my life,” Stephanie said.

This is something that would bleed into the veins of her addicted brother, who she says almost died from IV drug addiction.

“ [He] ended up having two open heart surgeries, spleen surgery, a stroke and the loss of three fingers on his left hand. He actually showed up on my doorstep, said he knew [he] could get help; he could do it cause he saw me do it.”

She says she had to make a tough decision that ended up benefitting her brother.

“He had a warrant for his arrest. We turned him in.” she said, “While he was in jail, he decided to rededicate his life to Christ.”

The family that used to use together now helps bridge the gap between addicts and resources.

Freedom Life Compass is the nonprofit that I founded five years ago,” Stephanie said.

Her brother Rex is now the Executive Director at Project Hope Florida.

Stephanie also opened Freedom House more than a year ago and took over the Celebrate Recovery Ministry in her area two years ago.

Celebrate Recovery is a Biblical, 12-step program and it is for any of life’s hurts habits or hang ups. So it’s not just addictions,” she said.

Their mother also leads a celebrate recovery group.

Stephanie says she’ll soon leave her corporate job to work full-time at Cross Point Church.