PLATTSBURGH — Bobby Tressler knows firsthand how tight the grip of addiction can be.
“I was pretty bad into drugs. I know people who were worse than me, but I was definitely going down a bad path,” he said.
He credits the Teen Challenge program — specifically the encouragement he received at the Johnson, Vt., campus — with helping him overcome substance abuse before falling into the open arms of faith.
Tressler, who was 19 when he sought treatment, said an ultimatum from his parents opened his eyes and helped him realize he needed help.
“I had basically hit rock bottom,” he said. “They told me, ‘You have to go (to Teen Challenge) or you’re going to have to move out.’”
His parents, born-again Christians, heard about the program from another family in their church whose son turned his life around at Teen Challenge.
The Granville native was nervous and uneasy when he arrived at the campus about three hours from his home in New York.
But seeing a large cross hanging on the center’s living-room wall became his inspiration to break free from the cycle of addiction.
“I saw it on the wall, and I just broke down,” he recalled.
But change didn’t come easily for the teenager, who found his new sober life was hard to sink into, at first.
“The first few days were hard. It wasn’t so much the drugs I missed. I really wanted a cigarette,” he said.
The program has restrictions against smoking, drinking coffee and facial hair.
The struggling new student said he simply stuck to his schoolwork, finding faith through reading other addicts’ testimonies and stories of survival.
He soon realized recovery might just become his new reality.
“My faith sparked, and I thought, ‘OK, maybe there’s something to it, and I am going to give this program a shot,’” he said.