ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING (August 14, 2020) – If you’ve ever struggled with addiction, you know what an impact that can have on your life and the lives of those around you. For some, addiction is a never ending rabbit hole they cannot escape from. For Austin Arndt, or better known by his stage name YT, his struggle with addiction made him into the person he is today.
From the beginning
At just six years old, Arndt’s mother and father split up. Due to the fact that his father was hospitalized for extreme bi-polar disorder, his mother became a single mother while his father remained in the hospital until Arndt was twelve years old.
“My mom was a single mother of three. My mom worked two to three jobs just to make sure we had food, clothes, whatever. She didn’t want us to go without. That was always a big thing to her, she didn’t want us to go without especially during Christmas. Regardless if she was there because she was working, she made sure we didn’t go without.” Arndt said. “Now that I’m sober I take notes from my mom’s work ethic, and my dad’s kindness. He was kind and she worked hard. I took notes on how to treat a woman. I was raised by mostly women so that was huge.”
The first time Arndt experimented with drugs he was just nine years old.
“I ran around, looked for friends in the wrong places, and got into drugs really heavy. Because of that, I went to nine different rehabilitation centers from here to Texas.”
Although he tried to get clean numerous times, Arndt’s troubles didn’t end there. Due to his drug use, he would go on to experience a very close call with death.
“In the middle of everything that was going on, I ran away to California. I was gone for a year and a half and became Wyoming’s most wanted. I overdosed on heroin, I didn’t have a phone and it was just me, so no one knew.” Arndt said. “I put myself into a coma. I woke up a week later, it was really scary.”
When Arndt came to, he knew he had to do something. Scared, alone, and recovering from a drug induced coma he decided to make a change.
“The first thing I did when I got a phone was, I immediately called Lenny Kaumo. At that moment he was the only person I really wanted to talk to. He talked me into walking myself into jail and turning myself in.” Arndt said. “So I did that and ended up doing about three years. I did some rehab, and then I did probation for another two and a half years, finished it out with a deferral and got my record clean. I could’ve been a felon and taken the six months probation. I could’ve taken the easy way out but I wanted to do it right. I didn’t want to be a felon.”
Coming back to life
Ardn’t emerged as a new man and was determined to build a better life for himself. He wanted to be better, and be an example to his family, and those around him.
“Once I was clean I applied myself. I didn’t have a clear vision, I just applied myself to life. I didn’t think about goals or anything. Everything was just – do, do, do, to strive to be a better person than I was yesterday.”
Coming back wasn’t easy
Although he was clean, Arndt had many relationships to mend.
“It took my mom four and a half years after I got clean for her to tell me she was proud of me again.” Arndt said. “I could’ve moved away, changed my name, but I didn’t want to. Stayed here and realized that addiction starts with a choice and then becomes addiction. Who you’re around, affects that. I started setting boundaries, I made new friends, replaced negative friends.”
“I’ve experienced a lot. I struggle with mental illness. I have depression. I don’t take medication, because I personally believe that everyone needs to feel. If you need to cry, cry. Go handle that, find an outlet. I personally feel you don’t need medication and those side effects to cope. I just use my music. I use it as a major platform for everything in my life.”
To deal with his own emotions, Arndt likes to get away from everyone and clear his mind. He jokingly states that if he has to, he will scream into a microphone and then delete it.
“I don’t want to put my negativity on anyone else. I have darker music, but I use that to express how I’m feeling. I’m not trying to put that out there on everyone else.”
Arndt has been clean off of heroin for seven years, and clean from meth for five years.
“I try to make it cool to be sober and give someone a different outlet especially in this area.”
When Arndt isn’t working, he spends his time working on his music, contributing to numerous charities. Be it organizing benefits, raising money, donating his time and talent at shows, or working with other local artists to help those in need.
“With everything around here and how crazy it’s been, it’s nice to have some positive light to shed on people. Keeping my music right, not being derogatory towards women, race, or the police. There is so much going on right now and I can use my music to carry a positive message during this time and of course I have other music that isn’t as positive and is a little dark but who doesn’t have that side?” Arndt said. “I have to vent and I use my music when I’ve had a bad day. I don’t put my negativity on other people. I don’t do dis-tracks. I’m not saying anything negative about anyone or putting my negativity on anyone. I can be a pretty negative person inside. I struggle with depression and things like that put on the outside. I’m trying to spread that positivity. Especially with the way things are right now.”
“I believe that happiness is self reliant. It is your choice to feel happy or not. Even after my father passed, I forced myself to go and spend time with my family and have a good time. Even through things like that, you can still find a way to make yourself happy.”
As far as recovery from addiction, Arndt credits his fiancee for how far he has come.
“I wouldn’t be who I am without my fiancee. I wouldn’t be sober without her. She supports me in everything I do. Even from the beginning she took a huge leap for me, and what they say is exactly right – behind every man, you’ve got to have a strong woman.”
For anyone struggling with mental illness or addiction, Ardnt states that he is willing to be there for anyone who needs help.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out. I’ll talk to you. Day or night, I’ll talk with anyone. If you need to or need help, reach out. Have faith in yourself, you can do it but also unless you want it, it’s not gonna happen. But no matter what, don’t give up. I did it, you can do it.”
This song is a dedication to Arndt’s cousin, Chad Maheu. “This song is to my big cousing Chad Maheu who was in the North Dakota oil well explosion (2016) and is fighting for his life. I love you cousin, you can fight this fight. This is my heart open for you. My soul open for you. My mind open for you. Please fight harder than you ever have. We are all here for you.
Today, Maheu is doing well. He has opened his own business – LB Services. He strives to take extra precautions to make his rigs the safest so that what happened to him, never happens to anyone else.