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TYLER J – Learning from Mistakes

Tyler J is currently a Phase III resident at Turnbridge

Tyler J is currently a Phase III resident at Turnbridge, and resides in our Phase III Wooster Square facility – former home of the Italian Consulate (pictured right) : He spent several years struggling with his addiction, and after stints in two primary rehab centers, he came to New Haven to become a part of Turnbridge’s drug treatment and sober living program. Now, Tyler is making strides with his recovery efforts, and he is able to work and focus on his music without the burden of drugs and alcohol. Tyler’s struggle with addiction began when he and his grandparents relocated for his grandfather’s new job. “When I moved to Baton Rouge I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t have a network,” Tyler said. “The easiest group to get into was with the drug users – all you had to do was use, and I gravitated toward them when I was around 14. I sought companionship, and found it in the drugs they were using to build camaraderie. I didn’t know why they did it, but I wanted that feeling.” This sparked a period of substance abuse that lasted for four years. Tyler was careful at first, attempting to hide the drug use from his grandparents. “I was sneaky with it for the first year or so,” Tyler said. “When I got caught I would stop for a week or so and then sneak out. By the third year, I didn’t care anymore. I would come home wasted, and use in the house.” Despite Tyler’s efforts to remain secretive, his grandparents found out about his addiction and confronted him about it on the day before a big family trip. “I knew I needed help,” Tyler said. “I was sad, scared, and confused. I had no idea how it had gotten that bad. I was not myself. I was a zombie. I didn’t want to talk to anyone in my house, and didn’t want to be positive. I couldn’t smile unless I was too high to function.” Following his grandmother’s suggestion, Tyler then enrolled in a local program, but relapsed within a year of completion. Following the relapse, he spent a short time living with his mother and he reverted back into his old habits. Tyler was eventually ticketed for possession of marijuana while hanging out with a local dealer, and his grandparents registered him for several pre-trial diversion classes as a result. “The classes were very helpful, and by this time I was working with a therapist,” Tyler said. “My therapist told me about Wilderness Treatment Center in Montana, and said ‘you need to go here.’ I took a flight the next day.” Tyler has been passionate about music, production, and dance since his grandmother first took him to see “The Nutcracker” at a young age. He has both taught the craft and performed as part of a larger group, and he was won several awards and commendations for his outstanding work. The desire to turn his passion into a career has been one of the driving forces behind Tyler’s recovery efforts. “My music didn’t flourish during those four years,” Tyler said. “I still used my talents, and I was dancing at the time, but I was embarrassed. I wasn’t dancing as well as I could have. I couldn’t communicate. There were two different [Tylers]; me when I was using, and me when I was with people or performing, but it was all acting. I was a wreck emotionally and mentally.” Tyler was successful at Wilderness Treatment Center, and the staff there recommended Turnbridge for the extended care sober living program. He has already overcome many of the barriers before him on the road to recovery, and he is currently working hard to better his life. As a resident, he is keeping up with the duties assigned to him, working during the day, and going to meetings at night. His time at Turnbridge has allowed him the opportunity to continue progressing with his music, and he currently collaborates with several other residents. The group makes music and videos together, and Tyler has a YouTube channel through which he distributes his work. In regards to his long term goals, Tyler’s first plan is to continue furthering his education. He is currently taking a class at Gateway Community College in downtown New Haven, and in the near future he plans to attend Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. While there, Tyler wants to study music and stage production, and in the meantime perhaps work at one of the many nearby theme parks. “In Turnbridge, I know I’m not the model resident, but I’ve done well,” Tyler said. “I’ve made progress, but I have gotten up late for work, and I’ve slacked off. The times that I work the AA program, when I do the work with my sponsor…I feel really good. I still make mistakes, but I can learn from them, and that’s nothing like how I was two years ago. I couldn’t do the things that I’m doing today.”