NEWS9 Special Assignment: Beating the Addiction, Josh Lytle
They try drugs for the first time to fit in, or feel like addiction wouldn't get a hold on them.
It's been a common trend among the stories we've shared in our series all month long, called Beating the Addiction. This is one final story of a local man who left the Ohio Valley to get clean, and came back to bring others on board. Someone just told us about Josh Lytle's story as our Monday night series came to a close. So while it's Wednesday, we had to squeeze this one in.
And you'll see why.
“I couldn't smile; I couldn't laugh,” Lytle said of his addiction. “I couldn't look in the mirror. I hated the man that I was. I hated that I was a failure. I hated that my parents couldn't look at me with pride.”
Lytle has come a long way in the last decade. He's reclaiming a life he lost control of as a teen living in Weirton.
He went on to college for a time, where his friends were his foe.
“I hated the fact that his lips would be blue, he'd almost be dying, his heart would be stopped, we'd throw ice under his arm to try to get him to wake up and it was a sad thing,” Lytle said of the man that put a needle in his arm the first time. “He looked at me and said, ‘Josh, you do this, you're going to be just like me.’ ’’
Before he knew it, Josh was addicted. Drugs, in part, led to the aftermath of an accident in July 2005.
“My shoulder was crushed,” he said. “When I came to, I was looking at the tread of my shoe, my leg was completely in half. I was looking at my car cut in half with the Jaws of Life. It was like something off a movie. They life-flighted me to Pittsburgh, found out my hip was reconstructed with cadaver bone.”
Today his scars tell the story. But Josh admits the accident only scared him. It didn't spur change. In fact, things only got worse.
“Oxycodone, perks (Percocet), PTSD medicine for quadrupole trauma, so I just got right back. I was just able to sell those pills for heroin, and get a lot more,” Josh said.
As a result, he found himself in and out of jail.
“I asked a guy, ‘how long you been coming to jail?’ He said, ‘man since I was 17/18 years old.’ He was in his 60s and it just clicked in my mind. ‘What are you doing? This is your life if something doesn't change.’ ’’
Josh went away for 14 months to a drug and alcohol rehab program in Princeton, West Virginia.
He got clean and motivated. He even worked there for several years until he felt compelled to come home and make a difference.
He is now working with his family's faith-based organization, “Family Care Excellence.”
Just last week, dozens gathered to share stories of sobriety. The organization took Josh into the Columbiana County Jail to meet with inmates who need guidance.
One such inmate was James Acord, the man behind the wheel in a now-infamous photo made public by the East Liverpool Police Department after he and another woman were found overdosing in their car with a 4-year-old child in the back seat.
“I didn't even know it was him the first few times we met,” Josh said, “until I saw his name on a piece of paper, and it connected. I said ‘man, this looks nothing like him.’ ”
Acord is serving a 360-day jail sentence on charges of OVI and endangering children. Josh says Acord is a man that needs love.
“This is a man that needs to know that he can change, even though he's 50 something years old. He can change,” Josh said. “He can have a future; he can have hope, a good life. And he can be a great example to so many people of how you can change.”
Josh goes to the jail twice a week to meet with Acord, and says he's seen a change.
“Just in talking to him, seeing tears running down his face and drip off his chin, talking about his failures, and he shared a story with me,” Josh said. “He said ‘man couple days before that photo came out, I love this little boy to death.’ He said, ‘I laid my head in my hands and prayed.’ He said, ‘I'm not a religious person.’ He didn't go to church. He said, ‘I prayed and said God if this boy wants any chance at having a future that's good, that's not like mine, something has to change.’
“He said, ‘I didn't want this to happen, but 2 days later, this happened,’ and he said, ‘I'm really taking this as an answered prayer, because I'm in here, the boy is in good hands, I'm getting the help I need. I'm learning that I can be forgiven.’ ”
Josh is hoping the viral photo is only a snapshot, the start of a success story.
“I do want him to get it, I am pulling for him,” he said. “But I pull for everybody that I work with because to me, it's another story of hope.”
And while overdose stories seem to plague Ohio and West Virginia, Josh's work is just beginning.
“The way I look at it, that's a chance of a redemption story of a story of change of a story of what can happen,” Josh said.
In Josh's work through Family Care Excellence, he is looking to bring Freedom Homes to the area -- a men's and women's center where addicts can stay for 30 or 90 days and receive training on recognizing temptations, anger, money management and more.
He says big things are on the horizon for his organization. If you want to learn more about it, click here, or contact Donny Lytle, Director at 330.362.0224 or 304.670.2788 or Josh Lytle, Vice President at 330.362.0232 or 304.952.6405.