15-Year Old Recovering Addict Working Wonders with Other Teens


All of us here at Cleared2Drive wants to salute Hallie Odom of Nashville TN.   Read and see why.

They come from the poorest and wealthiest of neighborhoods. They wouldn’t hang out if it weren’t for what they have in common. And none of them can talk about what is said.  All of the 10 teens in the group have parents who battle drug and alcohol addictions. Most of them have at least one parent in prison. And most have developed alcohol or drug addictions themselves.  Their leader is Hallie Odom, the 15-year-old daughter of a psychiatrist mother and a recovering alcoholic physician father.

The group is Alateen. Hallie’s is one of two of its kind in Nashville and one of 2,300 worldwide, according to Alcoholics Anonymous, the group’s umbrella organization. There are an estimated 18 million alcoholics nationwide. These are their children.  “The group offers the kids a place to heal,” said Ann Charvat, interim director of Reconciliation Ministries, where the meetings are held. “Compassion becomes an option to self-loathing.”

For Hallie, a St. Cecilia Academy sophomore, alcoholism wasn’t about beer and wine. Her father had quit drinking before she was born. But he had a short temper. He didn’t know how to deal with not drinking, she said.  Hallie, who was adopted as an infant, isn’t sure why she started drinking, using drugs and partying.  But, at the age of 12, her parents already didn’t know how to handle her, she said.

Sent to treatment

She was first sent to treatment when she was in seventh grade. Everyone thought she was pregnant. She wasn’t. Her parents, who have since divorced, sent her to a 9-month wilderness program in Utah.

She slept outside. Ate with sticks. Went to the bathroom in the woods. She was forced to write her life story. It ended up being 36 pages. “I had to live in my own head for once,” she said. “I was forced to realize all the pain I had caused my parents.”

She was next sent to a horse camp in Northern Utah. She was gone for a total of 15 months. When she came back, she and her family went to hours of therapy each week with two therapists. She’s still learning about herself, her parents and why she does what she does. But she wants to help others.

Over the summer, she started the local Alateen group in West Nashville. She attends the other Nashville group, as well. Alcoholics Anonymous sent her a packet, complete with its famed serenity prayer and 12 steps. Her role is not to counsel these teens, but to share her struggles and, most importantly, to listen.

“Hallie offers a unique perspective because she’s had more training than most adults who lead groups.  She’s been there. She’s experienced the solution. She’s more than competent to share it. She illustrates that these kinds of problems don’t discriminate. They affect all kinds of people,” Charvat said.

The group’s mission is to help teens turn their focus on themselves and away from the people and things in their lives that can’t be controlled.  “It’s more just me pushing them to talk,” Hallie said. “There’s such a strong tendency to hold everything in.”

‘We are not powerless’

Hallie talks like a therapist. She knows exactly how to eloquently express her feelings and is quick to analyze why she feels the way she does. She’s not ashamed of her story, only hopes that others see her as an inspiration.

She whispers, though, when she is asked about the teens in her group. “I don’t think they have any idea how much I really get out of talking and listening to them,” she said. Because all the expensive far-away camps and the clinical jargon of the hours upon hours of therapy can’t compare with the simple lesson that she learns in Alateen:  She is not alone. “We are not powerless over our lives,” she said. “We are not powerless.”

No,  she definitely is not.  Kudos to Hallie!

Advertisements

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: