Anyone who’s familiar with the criminal justice system knows just how much of an impact addiction can have on a person’s life and the lives of their loved ones. What’s less discussed, however, is how they got to that point.
Recently, we held a webinar with Kyle Dean Houston, a former client who faced life-changing felony drug charges in the mid-1990s. Kyle is now a loving father, a successful businessman, and a newly-published author, but his journey there wasn’t easy.
Raised in Higginsville, Missouri, Kyle was a school athlete.
“Things came easy to me,” he said. “I did pretty well in school, even though I didn’t try that hard. And I think most people, when I went off to explore the world, probably made an assumption that I was going to be highly successful.”
Because of that, Kyle didn’t have the life experience to understand how people could fall into traps and lose control. By the age of 25, he was an entrepreneur, but his success quickly went downhill when he got addicted to methamphetamine. The “why” behind his addiction is a loaded question, but Kyle attributes much of it to his insecurities, his struggle with self-worth, and, eventually, falling into the wrong crowd.
“People see the end result. They see the person, they see them losing weight. They see the poster child, which is a hideous version of what they used to be. That’s not what happens in the interior world. Meth is every bad thing that you can imagine erased instantly. So when I tried it and I was hanging out with people that had a bottomless bag of this powder, it was just a perfect storm for me to get addicted.”
Kyle admits that most addicts recognize the consequences of their drug use, such as arrest and physical decline, but for many, the consequences of not using the drug far outweigh anything else that could happen to them.
“If you can imagine the most nervous feeling or the greatest heartbreak you’ve ever been through or the death of a family member or any of these extremely negative, deeply-held emotions, if you can imagine literally taking a powder and erasing that instantly, then you start to understand what meth does to a human being,” he says.
Kyle explains that, paired with the feelings of “invincibility” it provides, meth’s addictive properties offer a quick route to addiction.
“You do a line and it lasts a day or two. Before you know it, you’re skinny and you’re losing your teeth and you’ve got all those consequences sneaking up on you. But by that point, there’s no way you can quit.”
Decades after the height of his addiction, Kyle has made it his mission to advocate for true justice, both inward and outward, for non-violent drug offenders. Above all, his refreshing honesty serves as an essential reminder of the humanity of the people our system deems criminals. To learn more about Kyle and his new book, Patchwork Junkie: A True Story About Drugs, Prison and Surviving Redemption, visit his website today.