Addict Kyle Crossland changing his life with First Baptist Church of Leesburg's help

Kyle Crossland walked out of the Leesburg detox center in shorts and a shirt and found himself standing by the side of the road with a brown paper bag containing his only worldly goods — some cigarettes and a lighter.

He was 23.

Those soul-stealers called drugs had taken everything else — his precious guitars, his car, his wallet, his clothes. Even the Kyle underneath it all had vanished.

"I have a picture from then. You could see it in my eyes and on my face — I was just gone," he said. "Kyle: just an addict."

Just an addict…

At the time, Kyle didn't know he was also one other important thing — a child of God.

A friend picked him up and took him back to LifeStream Behavioral Center, but authorities there wouldn't let him return. Then, they went to the Samaritan Inn run by First Baptist Church of Leesburg. "We thought it was a free motel," Kyle said.

It's not. The inn is a residence for homeless families, part of the Christian Care Center, which is a series of missions run by the church right along Main Street. It includes a men's residence that offers a five-month faith-based program for addicts.

He walked next door to the women's residence, and eventually two men confronted this homeless addict wandering through the church complex.

"I told them, 'I don't have anything left. I don't have anywhere to sleep,'" Kyle said.

They wouldn't let Kyle stay there either but told him to come back in the morning if he was serious about kicking his addiction.

He did. The date was Feb. 28, 2012. That's when the change began.

Kyle, now 24, is not your average down-and-out homeless addict. Blond, with classically handsome features and a quick smile, Kyle grew up mostly in Orlando. .

He graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in music business and a nasty addiction to prescription painkillers that ruled his life.

"I thought the whole rock n' roll lifestyle was the way to go. I found out pretty quickly that it's not what it's cracked up to be — it's sick and twisted and depressing," Kyle said.

He ripped off friends by pawning their music equipment. They responded by taking the battery out of his car and calling his parents, who made an instant road trip to Miami, retrieved his friends' equipment and tried to set things right.

It didn't work, because even the most powerful love alone doesn't cure addiction. Eventually, Kyle ended up with a conviction for grand theft after helping himself to an employer's open safe one lunchtime.

"I went from college grad to felon within a year, which negated everything I did at school. I had no friends left," Kyle said. "I was the kid who used to have promise and then no one wanted to hang around me."

Still, Kyle stayed on the road to the bottom, in and out of rehabilitation and jail, drunk and high and out of control.

Since coming to the men's residence, Kyle has learned a few things about himself. One involves steak. He loves steak — enthusiastically. They serve it most Saturday nights for dinner at the men's residence as the treat of the week. Kyle began to realize what desire meant in terms of the choices he makes for his life, regardless of whether the desire is steak, women, cigarettes, booze or drugs.

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