My name is Tyson, and like most people who struggle with a substance use disorder, I dealt with some traumatic experiences at an early age. My father was shot and killed when I was four by a man who worked for us. My mom was young, and the tragedy sent her on a path of alcohol and drug abuse. So, I was raised in my mom’s drug lifestyle. The cops raided our home frequently, and kids talked. I also had very Mormon grandparents and participated in Family Home Evening every week (a church tradition). So, I lived in duality and played both parts well. I became an actor and chameleon at an early age.
In high school, I started partying and doing the things that most teenagers do, but I also knew all the drug dealers, so I was the supplier for my friend group. I could take the substances or leave them until I wrecked my dirt bike and got prescribed OxyContin. The pain pills were that “it” factor for me, and I was hooked right off. I bought a home early and was always selling pain pills—my prescriptions as well as others.
I established a reputation with the local police because I manipulated the system, and they knew it. I ended up being sent to federal prison for four years and spent another five in and out of jail. In total, I spent nine years incarcerated and 17 years on probation. I have seven DUI convictions and many other charges. I went through a prison program, and I completed federal drug court, but none of these got me sober.
It was the last DUI that changed my life. I was looking at going back to prison, and I could not buy or manipulate my way out. So, I asked myself, what have I not tried? What was I never willing to do to stay sober? The answer came to me. I had never gotten a sponsor and worked the 12 steps. The night before my sentencing, I got down on my knees and prayed for the first time in years. I said that no matter what happened the next day, I would get a sponsor and work the steps, either in prison or—if I was gifted the chance—at a treatment center. I was going to do this.
The next day, I went in front of the judge, and I was honest with him. I told him that he probably should not let me out because I was a seven-time repeat offender, and if I killed someone on the road, that would be on him too. I also told him what I was going to do with my life, regardless of what he decided that day. The judge gave me the chance to come to Wasatch Crest, a place that changed my life. I got a sponsor and have upheld the declarations I made to the judge that day.
I took the opportunity that I was gifted and ran with it. Today, I’m lucky enough to work for the place that saved my life as the Uinta Program Director. I was employed with other centers, and out of all the places that I’ve been, Wasatch Crest has the biggest heart by far. We genuinely care about all of our clients.
I’m currently a college student with a 4.0 GPA, working towards a degree in business, so I can help people with substance use disorders obtain housing and employment. I’m also a Certified Peer Support Specialist. I get to bow hunt, ride dirt bikes, and fly fish. I haven’t been arrested or put on probation since I’ve been sober. I started by just not wanting to use anymore or go back to prison. I can tell you that today, my life is better than anything I could have imagined sobriety to be like, and I’m just getting started! That is what I tell myself every day, “I’m just getting started,” and I’m excited every day to see what this journey holds.
If I could give you all some advice, before you go into a situation in early recovery, ask yourself if this is different than what you usually do. If the answer is yes, it is different, then you are probably on the right track. Take suggestions, ask for help, tell on yourself, and voice those crazy ideas that are going on in your head. That leads me to my next piece of advice—get out and hit a lot of meetings! What better way to voice those thoughts that are trying to take you down? I could go on and on, but I’ll sum up with these three principles—be rigorously authentic, do hard work, and surrender to the outcome.
About the Author
Tyson Allred leads Wasatch Crest’s transitional living program, where he helps clients create a life worth staying sober for. A certified peer support specialist, Tyson leads therapeutic groups and works with clients to develop practical life skills. Tyson draws on his recovery experience as a Wasatch Crest alum and empowers clients to believe that their recovery is possible. Tyson fills his free time outside in the Wasatch Range — trail running, bow hunting, dirt biking, fishing, and camping. He also tries to compete in at least one Spartan Race every year.