For most of Tyler’s life, he was a “normal kid” and had never had any behavioural problems until the age of 14, when someone from high school introduced him to drugs and alcohol. With plenty of drugs readily available in his area, it wasn’t long before Tyler became addicted, and Oxycontin was one of his drugs of choice for several years.
Tyler began stealing money from his grandmother’s store to buy drugs, and the combination of lying, stealing, and addiction led to a breakdown.
“I knew I was caught, so I explained what was going on,” he says. “Physically I thought I was doing okay, but mentally I wasn’t.”
Tyler’s grandmother did a thorough search online for help and found Portage Ontario’s addiction rehabilitation centre for youth in Elora.
“When I first heard about Portage, I was hesitant,” explains Tyler. “I had never been away from home.”
Having completed the program, Tyler has now become an advocate for Portage Ontario. “I have only good things to say about the program, the staff, and how the program is run,” he says. “It changed my perspective about how to look at life, and gave me some structure. I made friends in the program and we still keep in touch.”
Tyler’s favourite part about the program was connecting with people without being under the effects of drugs and alcohol. He’s also proud of the five high school credits he earned while in treatment, and he loved his Outward Bound canoe trip. “The highlight was seeing how everyone came together to get things done,” he said. “At one point it started raining when we were paddling to our campsite, and once we got there, everyone quickly worked together to build a fire, set up tents, and to get the food going.”
He also really appreciated his caseworker, Ken, who supported him throughout his recovery. “I liked how he spoke with people. He challenged my way of thinking.” The program also helped him grieve his mother’s passing and come to terms with some of the issues he had been harbouring for years.
A month after completing his residential program, Tyler enrolled at a local college’s Addictions and Community Service training program, and once completed, he plans to do a two-month school placement at Portage.
When asked what he has learned about himself during his stay at Portage, Tyler says, “I learned not to be so hard on myself, everyone is going to make mistakes, and everyone is human. I learned to work on that level. I learned that I am worth it.”
Tyler is thankful to Portage supporters who helped change his life. “Thanks for donating. It’s worth your money. I’ve seen a lot of changed lives in this program – including mine.”