Many people describe early recovery as a “pink cloud,”state of euphoria or elation derived from a new way of life without drugs or alcohol. But for some, early sobriety is tough.
Tyler Stewart, the Director of Operations at Foundations Recovery Center, faced many challenges immediately after he got sober on June 1, 2016. Within weeks his son was born, addicted to methadone and with cocaine and alcohol in his system. Tyler still had 15 warrants out for his arrest. But he managed to find work as a mechanic.
“I worked 12-hour days, went to a meeting and went right to the hospital,” Tyler said, describing the months it took for his son to detox. “Early recovery was rough, but we made it through.”
This was not Tyler’s first go-round in early sobriety. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, he began using and selling drugs in early adolescence. He went to treatment for the first time when he was teenager. Despite the help, it didn’t stick.
“I didn’t listen to anything,” Tyler said. “I thought I could just get the drugs out of my system, but that wasn’t the case.”
In the following years, Tyler’s drug use heightened dramatically. At one point he estimates he had to take 18 high-strength prescription painkillers just to feel neutral, even more to get high. His addiction left him homeless, moving in and out of shelters, and finally living in a tent in Anne Arundel County. After an arrest, he sought help again, calling his former stepfather who had multiple years of sobriety.
“The next day I went to treatment,” Tyler said. “I got off of everything. I was a broken devastated shell of a person.”
During treatment, Tyler moved into a sober living house. There, he was able to regain connection to his inner self and repressed emotions. He described a day in treatment when he received a phone call about his son’s mother. She was not in good shape. Sharing about it in group, Tyler began to cry.
“And I looked over at the counselor and she was crying, too,” he said. “I went over to talk to her and she said she could see the pain in my eyes, and that it reminded her of the way she felt when she was first getting sober.”
Since then, Tyler has never questioned the connections one can make in recovery. One such connection is with Matt Paris, Regional Community Outreach Specialist at Fresh Start Recovery center, another treatment facility in the Amatus Recovery Centers family. Paris, too, must have seen something in Tyler.
Before long, Tyler left his job as a mechanic and began working as a Behavioral Health Technician. Over a short period, Tyler was promoted several times, before he accepted his position as the Director of Operations.
“I just did, did, did and showed good judgement. I was eager, I was hungry, and I wanted to learn,” he said. “I had a passion and I cared because I’ve been where the clients have been.”
Tyler believes the care Foundations Recovery Center provides goes above and beyond that of many treatment centers, both during group sessions at the facility, and at Foundation’s sober living community.
“Back at housing, that’s where you see the clients going through everything,” he said. “Taking their masks off and processing. You have to get up and you do all your laundry and cleaning and cooking. Like me, I needed to learn these healthy routines. I never had healthy routines when I was using.”
Tyler, who is one step away from receiving his accreditation as a Maryland Peer Recovery Specialist, is ecstatic about the pace at which Foundations is growing. But the most rewarding part of his job is seeing the same potential in his clients that his counselors saw in him.
“I remember when the clients come in broken and miserable, and the new look on their face,” he said. “Putting the heart back into a broken soul is why I do what I do.”