A small moment in time led to thirty-plus years of heavy drug-usage, risky behaviors, and addiction.
What started as a casual trip to a concert for then 14-year-old Lyle Driemeyer, Jr., resulted in a long battle to drug addiction and a recent road to recovery. As a child, Lyle grew up with hard-working parents, who were also business owners. “When I was a kid, everything started coming down on me,” says Lyle. “I was being raped. I didn’t go to people, because you didn’t tell anyone about it at that time.”
Looking for a way out and a way to cope, Lyle found an option that couldn’t have come any easier to him. “I went to an AC/DC concert and a lady came over, handed me a drink and a handful of pills; that’s where it all started.” That small moment in time led to thirty plus years of heavy drug-usage, risky behaviors, and addiction.
“Once I found the drugs, I found an easy way to get away. I liked how they made me feel. From there on, I only wanted bigger and better.”
A Life Centered Around Addiction
The more drugs Lyle tried, the more he felt a need to get higher and experience that rush again. “It was easier to use at first and then sober up,” says Lyle. “But the more you use, the more you want, because you’ll never get that high. You always want a high, you always want an escape.”
As Lyle became more addicted, his life began to revolve around the drugs. “I would eat out of the dumpster and save what money I could to buy more.” He continued to crave that escape and to be higher than he was the previous time. He began to experiment with many different types of drugs. Pain pills, heroine, coke, and sheets of acid all came and went throughout Lyle’s life. But Lyle found his favorite, methamphetamines, and stuck with it for thirty years.
As the addiction increased, Lyle’s outlook on life took a dark turn. “I was depressed, very bitter, and very hateful toward life… God… people… everything. I didn’t want people around; I thought if they weren’t around, I couldn’t hurt them. They didn’t know what was going on or what I was doing. In the long run, I hurt them more.”
The consequences of Lyle’s addiction and the risky lifestyle he was living eventually caught up to him through jail time. He served five years in prison for a crime he did in the county jail and did solitary for two years. Even in prison, he was able to find the drugs and continue his habits. “Eventually I didn’t care if they arrested me,” says Lyle. “It was a game. It was a place for me to stay.”
The Fire and the Morning Everything Changed
During one of the darker periods of his life, Lyle found himself caught in a fire – literally. The group he was with at the time rushed him to Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls, which was 45 minutes away from the scene of the accident. They dropped him off and drove away, with all his skin hanging down from his body. He ended up being transferred to the McKennan Burn Unit, where they tried to use morphine to ease the pain.
However, Lyle had such a high volume of meth in his system, no pain pills would work – he was immune to them. Lyle even kicked his mom out of the hospital. “I wasn’t going to die in front of my mom like this,” says Lyle. Eventually, the health team had to attach two pain patches used for cancer patients to his neck to numb his body. Approximately 80-85% of his skin had melted off.
“It wasn’t fun anymore, but I was hooked.” Lyle’s mom took him to treatment institutions over the years, but he continually kept playing the game to get out and get back to the existence that had consumed his adulthood.
Then, one morning – it all changed. “I had blacked out and didn’t remember the night before,” recalls Lyle. “I had done a lot of meth. I went into my friend’s room and told him I was done. I couldn’t do this anymore. I didn’t care about going to jail, prison… it would just give me a place to rest.”
The game he had been playing for years with himself, the cops, and other drug users had caught up to him. He was burnt out. “I literally wanted to die,” says Lyle. “I had a syringe full of heroine. I debated for a long time if I wanted to end my life. The only thing that stopped me was that I was thinking of my mom.”
This time, when he went into treatment, it was different. He was ready – physically and mentally. He can recall his eyes being sunk into his head and feeling that he had given up, because he knew he was going to die. “I knew I had to do something for myself. There was a choice. I could die or live. Dying is easy; living was the hard choice.”
Horizon Care Behavioral Health and Lyle
Now, Lyle has been clean for just over a year and he has faced his share of withdrawals and temptations trying to stay that way. As he went seeking treatment and for help to change his life around, he found it difficult to find a place he was comfortable with and staff that he could truly connect with – until he found Horizon Health Care.
Lyle learned about Horizon’s Yankton clinic while going through treatment at Lewis and Clark Behavioral Health in Yankton. He references how comfortable the entire staff has made him feel since his first visit, but there’s one person, in particular, who has made a difference in
his life and has helped him reach this point in his journey. Angela Steffensen, a Licensed Social Worker for Horizon, is located in De Smet, but is able to support Horizon patients around the state via telemedicine.
“I knew I had to do something for myself,” says Lyle. “I looked into Angela’s eyes and I knew I had to trust her if I was going to make it. I’ve been through treatment and I’ve went to other behavioral health places, but Angela’s different. She talks to me, but she lets me give her the answer. Others just pushed me; you can push me, but you can’t push that hard. She has taken the time to just be there for me.”
According to Lyle, becoming clean and leaving the life that had overtaken his entire adulthood behind, has been the biggest challenge he has went through. “I’ve ran into so many people who want help, but they feel like there is no other help,” says Lyle. “They’ve broken all the bridges with the people in their lives and they want or need someone they can trust.”
As someone who suffers from MRSA, himself, Lyle also references the difficulty for addicts to find help when they are dealing with other diseases on top of their addiction. Many treatment centers can’t help with the medical issues on top of the addiction, so finding a medical clinic that offers behavioral health services has been beneficial for him.
Even though he’s accomplished a year of being drug-free, Lyle is still dealing with the effects of his past decisions, as he describes the toll drugs have taken on his mind and body. “I hurt a lot now. I have sores, I itch, and I have severe arthritis. My joints don’t have cartilage anymore, its bone-rubbing-bone. The meth and drugs ruined my body and sometimes my brain is like a TV screen when it’s all snowy.”
Living with the Effects and Finding New Hope
The memories and nightmares from what Lyle has put himself through continue to stick with him, but one of the most vivid memories is the number of kids he has seen living the lifestyle he once did.
“Look at the innocent kids out there, not people like me. They have parents addicted to drugs; they love their parents and don’t want to be taken away. A lot of the people I dealt with have kids and I saw the way they were suffering and living. They needed help.”
Today, Lyle continues to take positive steps in his new life, with Angela helping him through it. Lyle has four children, including a now 30-year-old daughter in Minneapolis, who he plans to meet for the first time this spring.
“I got myself into this, so now I have to deal with it. Angela is a godsend. I still have drug dealers
coming to my door, even though I’m clean. She helps me work through it. They need more places like Horizon out there and more people like Angela.”
If you know someone like Lyle, or are struggling with addition yourself, Horizon Behavioral Health is here are ready to help.