‘I’m not a criminal, I’m just a drug addict’: Man’s search for a fresh start | Feature Stories

Christopher Eichelberger is hard to miss. Covered in tattoos, with a head full of dreadlocks and an affinity for brightly colored clothes, he will be the first to admit he is a different person today than when he was trapped in a cycle of addiction and crime.

At age 13, Eichelberger began taking pain pills and soon he followed his parents path into heroin addiction.

“I felt like we were closer,” he said of his parents. “So I continued doing it for that reason. And then it became something I enjoyed.”

He came to Williamsport for a fresh start.

After being released from his first stint in prison, Eichelberger tried to break his addiction. He made it two months before falling back into his old habits.

“Some of it was because I went back to my old place with old friends and bad influences,” he said. “I needed a fresh start … so I tried this place.”

He went to a second time and after this prison sentence the now 27-old Eichelberger knew it was time to turn his life around and that he couldn’t do it on his own.

The Bethesda House in Williamsport first opened for male residents on Oct. 6, 2021 as a program of the Transitional Living Centers. It is a contracted state facility similar to a pre-release center, or a “jail without bars,” said Cleveland Way, program director at Bethesda house.

The Transitional Living Centers offer home plan options for incarcerated men and women to make a positive and productive transition back into society, according to Nicole Miller, the center’s executive director. She added that the case managers will help reentrants with their goals of eliminating substance abuse, enhancing their mental health, finding employment, managing their finances…

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