By Chloe Schultz

“I’m either gonna die or I’m just gonna live a very miserable life and I did not want that for myself,” said Tyler Kline, 19, a resident of Easy Does It (EDI), a transitional housing community for individuals recovering from addiction.

Although 19 is young, Kline has struggled with substance abuse for four years. Dr. William Santoro, chief of addictions medicine at Reading Health System in Reading, Pennsylvania, stated that adolescence is the time to pay attention to early warning signs.

“Early warning signs are things that are different. [Such as] if a 13-year-old is typically going out for sports and now isn’t, hanging out with different people, doing different things than they did before,” said Santoro. He explained that although all adolescents go through change during this period, there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy amounts of behavior change.

Kline was introduced to drugs as a teenager. “I first started using when I was 15 years old. My dad introduced me to it, and it was off to the races from there,” said Kline of his experiences.

He described the change in character he experienced after he started using drugs. “Before I started using, I was a very selfless person. I’d give the shirt off my back to anybody. As soon as I started using, everything revolved around me,” said Kline.

Kline spent almost a year of his life homeless. From January 2014 to November 2015, he lived on the streets. His experiences being homeless fueled his decision to get help. After returning from a rehabilitation community in Florida, he found himself back in his old habits and living at his girlfriend’s house. His girlfriend’s mother asked him to leave after he failed to fulfill promises to get a job and stop his addiction. Living that night on the street reminded him of his past experiences. The next day his friend got him checked into EDI; Kline arrived two weeks ago.

“They’re getting us acclimated to living normally instead of having our street mentality,” said Kline.

The program has helped him improve his ability to take care of himself, and respect the physical environment of the facility. He has learned to manage his health and wellbeing. He was also secured a job and goes to work regularly.

EDI also encouraged Kline to explore his identity and past. “At first I hated having to learn about myself because I thought I was doing nothing wrong, but I found out things in my life that caused me to do this stuff,” said Kline. This process is essential to changing the mindset that addiction can cause.

Before I started using, I was a very selfless person … As soon as I started using, everything revolved around me.

Spirituality is also a topic discussed in many recovery programs; however, it is nothing like a standardized religion. Patients are encouraged to find a higher power of their own understanding. It is left largely to the individual’s interpretation. This can help the individual get out of their own head and see the world from a varied perspective.

“I use my grandfather; he passed away in September of last year. That is who I pray to every night and who I seek guidance from, because throughout my life that is the person who guided me,” said Kline.

He shared his hopes as he goes through the recovery process. He would like to eventually give talks at schools about his experiences.

“There are a lot of kids that I’ve seen throughout my high school career who have struggled with the same thing as me. They have just been less fortunate to not have found this awesome new life,” said Kline. He stressed that the process of recovery is not one that should be experienced alone.

He also hopes to one day have a family of his own, and be present at important family events. He is ready for a change in his life.

“I want to just live a better life than I can on the streets, and do the right thing. That’s my only hope, that’s my driving force” said Kline.