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3 min read

From Mere Survival to Chasing Dreams: Tyler’s Story

“Meth makes you really fidgety, hyper-focused on the smallest things. So, I picked at my face when I was using...and I gave myself sepsis.”

Tyler was 25 when he came to his darkest hour. He remembers waking up in the hospital, his grandparents standing over him, crying. The doctors did not expect him to survive.

man in hospital bedHis grandparents had been the only consistently loving people in his life. Born into an abusive home, he was taken from his mom and stepdad when a daycare worker discovered giant bruises on his back. His grandparents adopted him and his older sister.

Tyler on a couchHowever, unhealed trauma kept Tyler and his sister desperately seeking to fill a void. “I was really close to my sister; she took care of me when I was younger and I trusted her with my life. It’s not her fault, but I feel like I followed her down the wrong path because of our closeness.” As teenagers, they started using drugs together and ultimately got kicked out of their grandparents’ home. “It was a tough love situation. I don’t blame them.”

For a while, he and his sister sold drugs so they could afford a hotel room every night, but it caught up with them. “We started using what we were supposed to sell. I stole what I needed to eat, we slept where we could. At one point, Tyler slept for a week undiscovered in a laundry room. “Then I stole a tent to sleep in until someone stole the tent from me.

“Being in that culture was a struggle; you’re trying to work toward something every day, but you have to start over every day because you always lose your stuff.”

Tyler was existing in complete chaos, barely surviving, living for the next hit. “Just roaming the streets, doing anything I could to get high.”

2L7A1054And then he fell ill with the skin infection.

“I was in the ICU for a week or so, and then my grandparents told me about UGM. I was pretty skeptical at first because I’d been to other recovery programs and they never worked out.”

But he gave it a try. “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Tyler walking in to the MissionWith few other options, Tyler quickly decided to enter UGM LIFE Recovery, dig in his heels and do whatever it took to finish the program. Plus, he says, “At UGM, surrounded by friends, I started having a really good time. I felt loved, like if I were to disappear, it wouldn’t be the same. And one day I just started to see that I didn’t need all these drugs to enjoy my life.”

Discovering the joy and fulfillment of healthy friendships and doing the hard work of looking through his past and deciphering where his addictions began helped Tyler see himself in a new light. “For me, it was a spiritual problem. I didn’t like myself. I thought I wasn’t special; didn’t think I was unique in any way. At UGM, I found my identity in Christ. I found I was fearfully and wonderfully made. I am capable of anything I set my mind to.”

Tyler in conversationAnd Tyler set his mind to do many, great and impactful things. In phase four of the LIFE Recovery program, he started a business practicum which lead to an Employment Training Opportunity (ETO) in administration at UGM Motors. “I feel like there was even more of an impact on me when I started working at Motors. We would all start the day with a group study, talking about God. It was a great way to start the day. The repetitiveness of learning who God is and what He has done for us… How welcomed they made me feel, how accepted I was, and all the love they showed me the whole time I was there.”

Tyler kept working at UGM Motors, quickly becoming an integral member of the team. He finished the Recovery program, rented his first apartment, got a car, and started showing interest in applying for a full-time position working at the Men’s Shelter, right where he had first found hope. “Today, I know I’m a child of God. I’ve discovered that I’m funny and really caring, I have a passion for helping people, and I want to give back what was given to me through this program. I think that staying with UGM is a really good way to give back and help people.”

“Today, I know I’m a child of God.”

Tyler on a brick wallTyler’s journey from drug addict to contributing member of society has been a journey of discovering his true identity as a child of God with inherent dignity and worth. “Today, I am hopeful about life. I have things going for me, my future looks certain, and I feel like with the people I have around me now, I’m going to be able to succeed.

“I used to think that all there was was getting high and chasing that next hit, but now there’s so much more to life: moving forward and chasing your dreams.”


Watch Tyler’s story on video and discover more stories of real life change below.

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