NAMPA — From the time he was released from juvenile corrections at 18 until he was 30, Doug Tuttle was immersed in a cycle of methamphetamine use.
Tuttle lived in Grants Pass, Oregon, where he grew up, and earned his high school diploma during his five years in juvenile corrections. But that was his last real accomplishment at the time, he said. He spent the next 12 years using meth and using the people in his life to get by, staying with family members, friends, or women he was seeing at the time to keep a roof over his head and food in his belly.
“Basically I took and used and pursued after getting everything I could. Nothing was ever enough for me,” Tuttle said. “Food, drugs, women, everything.”
On one occasion in 2008, Tuttle ended up staying with someone he knew in Emmett. It wasn’t long before that person decided they’d had enough with his addiction, he said, and kicked him out. He ended up at the Boise Rescue Mission’s homeless shelter in Nampa, the Lighthouse. Tuttle spent about six months in the New Life drug rehabilitation program offered by the shelter, but he wasn’t in the right place for it yet.
“I gave it a shot, but I didn’t do it wholeheartedly, so it didn’t work,” he said.
It wasn’t until June 2014 that a pastor at his church in Grants Pass got permission from his board of directors to buy Tuttle a bus ticket that would take him back to Nampa to try the program again. It was one of the only programs that he knew was based in faith in God, which he wanted as part of his rehabilitation. It was also one of the only ones that was free. So he went — and this time, he was ready for actual change.
“The pastor had told me, ‘You know, if you don’t stop doing what you’re doing, you’re going to end up dead,’” Tuttle said. “… I just decided maybe enough was enough.”
He dug in to the program for the next year, taking in what it had to teach about the Bible, about addiction and its warning signs and triggers, about goal setting, getting involved in the community and setting up a support system. It was an intense process, he said.
By the end of it, Tuttle was on his way to a different life. Part of it started with his family, and setting out to prove with his actions that he was changing. His family agreed to let him back in — he spent 10 days in July visiting with them.
“I had done a lot of talking before in my life,” he said. “All I could really do was show them that I’m actually finished (with drugs) and do the best that I could with what I have, and definitely not ask for anything from them, but just keep in contact with them.”
But reconnecting with family is hardly the end of his progress. Tuttle enrolled at the College of Western Idaho a year and a half ago, and is nearly finished with a two-year liberal arts degree that will enable him to transfer to Idaho State University to become certified in American Sign Language. Because he has a sister who is deaf, Tuttle was already fluent in sign language, but the official certification will help him in the future, he said.
“For me, to really know about deaf culture and what it’s like, I feel like I can ultimately reach out to deaf addicts,” he said. “To counsel deaf addicts is my end goal.”
In fact, he already has a counseling job at LIFE Counseling Center in Nampa, where he will soon work full time while still attending CWI full time. It’s a full schedule, but that’s something he said helps in his recovery.
“It helps me keep going forward. I’m not stagnant in my recovery because of the fact that I have end goals, and I know the decisions I make will either take me closer to my end goal or further away from it.”
There are little things, too, adding to his feeling of having a new life. Tuttle now has a driver’s license, something he didn’t have for years, and he just paid off his car. He has insurance, a bank account, good credit and even new teeth from services donated by a local dentist. Long-term meth use can have a detrimental effect on teeth.
“That confidence that I have never had in regards to a smile, I have now,” he said.
To top it off, Tuttle plans to propose to his girlfriend within the next six months. And none of it would have been possible without the help of the Mission, he said.
“Every basic life skill that I’ve lacked most of my life, I was able to put an effort into learning there. They took me — someone that used, abused, was just stuck and had been stuck for quite some time — and they were able to give me the opportunity to be a standup citizen,” Tuttle said. “I can’t even really explain how amazing my life is. I want for nothing now, and it’s awesome. And I would not have been able to do that without the Boise Rescue Mission ministry.”