Recovering meth and heroin addict seeks help to end homelessness from UGM

Recovering meth and heroin addict seeks help to end homelessness from UGM

“I kind of had like holes and bruises on my face,” said 25-year old Tyler Burnett as he described, what he calls the lowest moment in his life.

“I was using meth and I was using heroin,but the meth really got out of control for me. It does weird things to people where they start to pick at their face.”

A decade of drug abuse landed him in the hospital again, this time battling another life threatening condition, caused by that constant picking. Sepsis.

“I woke up and I was like I can’t do this anymore. It’s ruining my life. I don’t have much of a life,” shared Tyler.

For the four years that his addictions were at their worst, Tyler says things like food and shelter did not matter.

He added, “you know those recycling bins? Like the big ones where you put cardboard? I’ve slept in those.”

Sick and tired of being sick and tired, Tyler reached out to his grandparents for help. After researching options, Tyler’s grandpa brought him to the Union Gospel Mission.

“I’ve been at rock bottom for so long, I’m ready to start climbing up that ladder,” he said.

Tyler and his grandpa met with Dean Whisler, a social services manager with the Mission to come up with a plan.

“I case managed him and discovered what he’s dealing with and we put him in the employment ready program temporarily while he’s waiting for the long term recovery program,” Dean explained.

Part of the UGM program is figuring out the why of a persons homelessness.

“I tell them you are going to have heart surgery. They are going to pull your heart out and help you get rid of that stuff that caused you to drink and drug,” added Dean.

For Tyler, it will involve revisiting his childhood. At 3, his mom chose her abusive boyfriend over him and his sister and put them up for adoption.

Tyler shared, “I think it was so traumatic and I was so, so young. It just stuck with me. I never got it.”

In his teens, he learned his father had been killed as he was trying to track him down.

He added, “it kind of leaves a lot of unanswered questions.”

“To be honest, his first few weeks here and knowing the horrific story, things he’s dealt with and all the years of homelessness- his youth. I’m like, oh boy,” said Dean.

So far, Tyler has defied the odds. proving himself to be a dedicated hard worker. He’s risen in to a supervisor position in the cleaning department at the Mission and is on track to be enrolled in the long term recovery program in April.

“I’m feeling confident. I’m ready to be over this chapter of my life, so I can have a life and not be stuck in this cycle,” added Tyler.

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