DES MOINES, Iowa — It was a life-or-death situation when the president and CEO of the nonprofit YSS made his New Year’s resolution 25 years ago. Years later, he feels happy about his decision.
“I had a great family. [They] taught me right from wrong, gave me every opportunity to be successful, but from a very early age I just had a bent towards delinquency and defiance,” said Andrew Allen, the president and CEO of YSS.
At an early age, Allen said that he was exposed to drugs and alcohol. By his 10th birthday, he faced felony charges. “At 17 and three-quarters years of age, right before I was to become an adult,” said Allen.
Allen said his father fought for him to get treatment. Allen received it at the YSS Adolescent Residential Addiction Treatment Program in Ames.
“For the first time, the staff at YSS held firm and they didn’t allow me to get my way. They broke me like you break a wild horse, and essentially, I had a moment of surrender,” said Allen.
Once Allen surrendered to the process, he gained a relationship with the nonprofit’s founder George Belitsos.
“He stayed on that path for 25 years. He hasn’t relapsed. He has helped many others along the way,” said Belitsos.
Today, Allen is the president and CEO of the nonprofit.
“Most change comes out of a period of pain and adversity. I want my story to be a testament that treatment works, and recovery, long-term recovery is possible,” said Allen.
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