Almost three decades ago while astride a speeding motorcycle, Tom Truszinski was en route to making some bad decisions. He was an addict spiraling into darkness. That ride ended when Tom collided with the back of a truck — an accident that smashed a hip and completely severed off the top of his right foot. But the event that could have killed him, saved his life. And since then T has worked to help save the lives of hundreds of others.
"It was the best thing that ever happened to me," says Truszinski. "26 years ago I was set free from 18 years of drug and alcohol addiction"
Truszinski, now a pastor, is the Rochester director of the Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, a nonprofit, faith-based drug and alcohol treatment center that serves roughly 200 men and women in it's residential program.
Their mission is to, "assist teens and adults in gaining freedom from chemical addictions and other life controlling problems by addressing their physical, emotional and spiritual needs."
The organization opened its Rochester facility in 2014, serving 100 men. In 2017, they opened another facility for women. Now the organization in Rochester is expanding again with the addition of a 5,200 square foot gymnasium. Truszinski says that the program has been very successful in helping people recover, but one aspect was limiting. The facility lacked a place where residents could regularly exercise. Physical fitness is not only essential for good overall health, but also it's an important part of the recovery process. Exercise helps people take their minds off problems, it encourages teamwork and it builds self-confidence.
"A lot of people who come through these doors feel like they've failed," says Truszinski. "Meth users whose bodies have withered look in the mirror and see death. But with proper exercise and nutrition their bodies begin to change. Then they can look in the mirror and see life."
He says the new gymnasium is absolute win-win and it will be especially helpful in the midst of winter when outdoor exercise opportunities are limited. Plus Truszinski adds that physical activity helps people when they leave the facility by giving them a sober activity in which they can engage.
Research shows that exercise is an important part of the recovery process. The National Institute on Drug Abuse website notes that exercise, when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy, can help smokers quit. And that it helps deter negative feelings and stress. They say additional research is underway to determine more ways in which exercise may benefit the recovery process.
The Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge Rochester gym, like the other existing facilities, is being paid for by donations from the community. It is scheduled to be completed in February, 2022.
"I believe that this new gymnasium will be a very important and positive addition to the program," says Truszinski.
If you would like more information about the program, visit their website at mntc.org or call by phone at (507) 288-3733.
Vivien Williams is a video content producer for NewsMD and the host of "Health Fusion." She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.