AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. – Through court documents 2 On Your Side took a look at how prevalent methamphetamine and heroin are in the Spokane community. After tracking the number of people arrested in the city with methamphetamine and heroin for almost two weeks, 75 people were arrested with methamphetamine or heroin, and sometimes both.
After seeing the story on TV, Pacific Northwest Adult and Teen Challenge reached out to say they have openings in their program and would like to help those struggling in the community with addiction.
“You know the guy that is riding the bike, the 20 inch BMX bike, with the backpack on his back and looking sketchy?” asked Pacific Northwest Adult and Teen Challenge Executive Director Tyson West. “That was me and I know there's a way out.”
Tyson West is now the executive director of Pacific Northwest Adult and Teen Challenge in Airway Heights. It is a program he went through himself just six years ago.
"I was living on the streets of Spokane. I was a heroin addict, a meth addict, and an alcoholic,” West explained. “But, I wasn't always that way.”
West started out like many teenagers. He played sports and did well in school. However, he says bad choices lead him down the long and hard road of addiction. It is something he struggled with for 21 years.
West said he even committed crimes to support his habit, which is something law enforcement says drives a lot of property crimes in Spokane.
“[I was] in and out of jail, petty theft crimes, picked up a couple of felonies,” West said. “My family, they were heartbroken, so they finally cut me off. They didn’t want to see me kill myself anymore.”
It was not until he was behind bars that West had a change of heart.
"I got to the point where, I wanted out, but I didn't know how to get out,” West said. “It actually took being locked up for me to find that way out.”
West went through 13 treatment programs, but said nothing stuck until he found PNW Adult and Teen Challenge.
The center in Airway Heights is a faith-based, year-long program for men between 18 and 55 plus. It focuses on helping men overcome addiction and continues to help them even after they leave the program and integrate back into the community.
“We have vocational training, so guys are learning how to hold down a job, how to take direction, some guys are put in a position of leadership,” West said.
The center in Airway Heights can hold 50 people. Right now it has 30 open spots. West said they never turn people away for lack of funding.
Tyson said he still sees people he once knew while living on the streets struggling with drugs. He said it is heartbreaking to watch and wants nothing more than to help others overcome addiction like he did. He wants everyone to know there is a way out.
“You are worth it because there's freedom and there's hope,” West said. “There is a way out and it's hard, you just need to take that step get on that path and remain on that path and we're here to help."