Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you describe your childhood for us?
I was born in Mankato, Minnesota and grew up in a middle class family. I was raised mainly by my mother as her and my biological father were never married and they had separated while I was still a youngin. When I was around 4 years old my mother met my stepfather and they got married and decided to move to Oregon. Moving to a new state where I knew nobody wasn’t easy but as I got older I made my circle of friends. The kids I chose to associate with probably wasn’t the best choice as nowadays most of them have either passed away from drug overdose or have been in and out of the corrections system. As a kid I always remember my mother trying her best to make me attend school but I had a defiant personality and that rarely happened, instead I chose to run around the streets with my friends, skateboard, smoke weed and raise hell. My juvenile like behavior continued until about my sophomore year of high school when I had an epiphany that I needed to change and wanted to do better for myself. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to graduate but didn’t have enough credits to earn my diploma, so I attended night school and eventually earned my G.E.D.. I started hanging around a whole new group of guys that were a much more positive influence on me and therefore my late teens and early 20’s I managed to stay out of any serious trouble.
Can you share with us how were you initially introduced to your addiction? What drew you to the addiction you had?
I believe I was introduced to my addiction through prescription pain pills, Vicodin to be exact. I remember I had gotten into a fight and fractured a few of my ribs, every breath I took I had felt a sharp shooting pain in my side and needed to go to the emergency room. I left the hospital that night with my prescription pills and loved how they made me feel, I was hooked from this point and it was all downhill from there. The thing that drew me to the pain pills was the feeling of escape and numbness to any problems I had going on, there was a sense of euphoria that I had never experienced or felt from anything like it.
What do you think you were really masking or running from in the first place?
I believe I was masking my depression. Whenever I was high it didn’t matter how bad things were going for me in my life, I was on top of the world, until the effects wore off, then it would be time to get high again. After living this lifestyle for a period of years I became mentally and physically dependent , not only did I want the pills but I needed them in order to stay functional and do everyday tasks like getting out of bed and going to work.
Can you share what the lowest point in your addiction and life was?
The lowest point of my addiction came from desperation and not wanting to be sick so I would use heroin in order to prevent myself from going into opiate withdrawals. Other low points was just the type of questionable characters I would hang around and the shady things I would do to hustle people, even if it meant ripping them off to make money to feed my addiction.
Can you tell us the story about how were you able to overcome your addiction?
Basically I was sick and tired of being sick and tired so I reached out to my family to see if I could come stay with them under the condition that I check myself into a rehab facility and get clean. If I was ever going to get this addiction under control I needed to get as far away as physically possible from the drugs and all enablers. At first I voluntarily checked myself into a detox facility and from there entered a 30 day in-patient program to ensure that I would have enough time to get through all the withdrawals and have some clean time under my belt. I wouldn’t say I’ve beat my addiction as the cravings will always be there but I’ve definitely learned how to at least manage it.
How did you reconcile within yourself and to others the pain that addiction caused to you and them?
I reconciled within myself and to others by showing them change. I got healthy and showed people that I was serious about this and it was time for a new Dustin and a fresh start. I began hitting the gym and losing all the unhealthy weight I’d gained and the big dark bags under my eyes even started to disappear. I was starting to look good again, like my normal self and was not only talking the talk but walking the walk.
When you stopped your addiction, what did you do to fill in all the newfound time you had?
Working out and going to the gym became my new healthy addiction and was filling in a lot of my down time. I also started to work more hours at my job to increase my social life and made honest money a higher priority in my life.
What positive habits have you incorporated into your life post addiction to keep you on the right path?
I found that trying to eat right and caring more about my health and physical appearance has been a great positive habit. Hitting an AA or NA meeting from time to time has also been something I found to be a good habit as it helps keep me in perspective and on the right path.
Can you tell us a story about how your entrepreneurial journey started?
The way I got started was actually through a friend of mine from the gym who has a clothing line, he asked me if I’d like to do some modeling for the brand and its Instagram page, of course I was flattered and said “yes” . After we had finished doing the photo shoot my friend had told me that he thinks I should make my own personal Instagram page, as at the time I didn’t have one, I took his advice and now here we are today.
What character traits have you transferred from your addiction to your entrepreneurship? Please share both the positive and negative.
To start let’s begin with a positive trait, I would say my people skills and the hustle within myself that helps me confidently make deals with different brands and companies. A negative quality however is my lack of trust that I have within people and it makes it hard for me to want to work with certain people because I sometimes feel as if they don’t have my best interest although maybe they really do.
Why do you think this topic is not discussed enough?
I think people either feel embarrassed or ashamed of their addiction or maybe they have a certain public image or reputation they are trying to uphold. Sometimes you have to open up, reach out and make yourself vulnerable to your loved ones in order for them to understand what’s really going on with your situation so that they can attempt to help get you on the right path because when you’re in an active addiction your judgement and choices are a bit skewed.
Can you share three pieces of advice that you would give to the entrepreneur who is struggling with some sort of addiction but ashamed to speak about it or get help?
My top 3 pieces of advice would be to not be afraid to reach out and ask for help, there’s people out there who love and care for you and genuinely want to see you succeed. Attend some AA or NA meetings when you can as everyone there is extremely welcoming and accepting of any suffering addict. They will help provide you with the coping skills and knowledge that it takes to manage your life. Last but not least live your life one day at a time, dont worry about staying clean next week or a month from now, just worry about the present day and before you know it you will form a clean streak. Sometimes looking too far into the future can be discouraging if you don’t fully believe that you’re capable of doing it. You got this!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find me on Instagram @iamdustintyler