Part Three: A Friend and Reason for Hope

Just joining us? This is part three of a five part series. Start from the beginning.

Kyle Boyer

Kyle Boyer, 15-year-old prescription drug addict, duped his parents once again, faking a stomach ache to stay home from school. But instead of staying in bed, he went out to do what had become his norm – breaking into houses and stealing whatever the medicine cabinets within had to offer. Only this time he didn’t get away with it. This time the cops caught up with him.

Kyle pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted breaking and entering. He was placed on 24-month probation and three months of house arrest.

The house arrest was only a little better than Youth Detention Center. The loneliness was almost overpowering at times, Kyle said. Whenever he’d try to get sober, detox was awful.

“Physically, at their worst, the withdrawals hurt every bone in my body,” he said. “Every muscle was cramping and it was like the absolute worst flu possible, times two.”

High was no way to live, Kyle knew. Neither was detoxing though.

For Kyle, getting high was the default mode. It seemed like the norm. In his world, it was so less weird than what was about to happen.

This kid who sat next to him in class thought Kyle should come to church with him.

Kyle had a brief recollection of going to a small, country, Baptist church as a child. And he hated it. He believed there was some supreme creator, but he was against the idea of organized religion. And even though this kid was nicer to him than any sober kid had ever been, the thought of going to church with him -- that was just weird.

After his arrest on the attempted breaking and entering charges, Kyle cut ties with his friends who used drugs. No one else really wanted to hang out with him, so the loner was at his loneliest.

“It had been hard enough for me to make friends with the friends I had,” Kyle said. “Now, I was having to isolate myself even further.”

So this Chris Collini kid started to seem not so bad.

On the surface, there was no reason this nice church kid and Kyle, a troubled addict, would hit it off.

“I knew he wasn’t at a place where he needed to be,” Chris said. “I’d heard all of the rumors of him being in trouble with the law. But I’d been raised around drugs. Both of my parents are recovering alcoholics and they run a recovery center in town, so I knew all about people dealing with drug addictions. It made me want to reach out to Kyle even more.”

Kyle didn’t make it easy.

“He’d have to hear me talk about drugs everyday, but he was always nice to me. He kept inviting me to church and I kept not wanting to go,” Kyle said. “We hung out a few times at his house, but I was not going to go to church with him.”

Eventually, Chris’ persistence won out.

“It was June 2010 when I finally went.” Kyle said. “I thought it was the weirdest thing in the world, going to youth group on a Wednesday night. Everyone there was so loving and accepting. Everyone was talking to me. It was an acceptance I’ve never felt outside of grandma’s hugs and kisses. And I liked it. I didn’t have to do anything but be who I am and they accepted me, even though they didn’t even know my name.”

So he went back the next week. And the next.

He heard about a weeklong summer camp the youth group was having. He wasn’t sure he was really ready for that level of Christianity, but with house arrest and the now-intensely attuned parents, Kyle wanted a week out of the house – even if it was with a church group.

“The first night, I was sitting there listening to the youth band’s lead singer play acoustic guitar and sing. It felt so peaceful and nice. The next thing I know, I was lying on my bed at 2 a.m., thinking that this is the most fun I’d had in a long time. I couldn’t wait for the rest of the week.

“I felt like something big was going to happen. That Monday night, I went to bed happy for once, with all these people accepting me and making plans to hang out with me after camp, not because they want something from me, but just because they wanted to be around me. I’d never had that from peers before.”

The next day, the group played games at Swift-Cantrell Park in Kennesaw, Georgia with kids from a day care center. Then that night, the group got together for a time of worship.

“That night was insane,” he said. “I decided to tell where I was in life with struggles with addiction. It was tough for me to do it. Everyone asked if they could pray for me. It was kind of weird, but the presence of God showed up and it was powerful.

I felt this joy and peace flow in my heart, and I felt 100 pounds lighter, like I wasn’t carrying this weigh on my back.

“Here they were, these 20 dudes praying for this one guy, and most of them were crying. I thought it was weird, but I knew it was right.”

Continue reading: The Joy and Struggles that Come with Staying Sober.
Multimedia credits: Clay Duda

Recovery schools offer kids support

Teens trying to stay clean from drugs and alcohol may do better by going to a Recovery High School. There are more than 30 of these specialized schools across the United States. Fewer than 20% of students who have gone through drug treatment programs remain sober once they return home, according to the Association of Recovery Schools. A blog from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called explains that the 23 year old program combines education and support.  The program allows students in recovery to get course credit towards a high school diploma or a college degree.