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Author lends her voice to teen recovery effort in Oklahoma

Koren Zailckas speaks at Oklahoma City benefit about blacking out as a teen and her long road to recovery from alcoholism.
BY ASHLEY GIBSON Published: October 9, 2013

Best-selling author Koren Zailckas has fragmented memories of the day she blacked out from intoxication at age 16. Zailckas, now 33, recalls partying with a group of friends on a dock and then waking up the next day at home in a hospital gown.

After blacking out on the dock, she couldn't walk or talk, and her parents had to rush her to the hospital to have her stomach pumped. Though the experience served as a serious red flag, it was only the beginning of a long road to recovery from alcoholism, she said Tuesday night to an audience of about 300 people during the Teen Recovery Solutions' “An Evening of Courage and Inspiration” charity dinner.

Zailckas is known for her debut book, “Smashed,” which chronicles her decadelong struggle with alcohol abuse, beginning at age 14, in an effort to explain binge drinking among America's youth.

She served as guest speaker for the dinner hosted at the Skirvin Hotel. The event raised more than $140,000 for the nonprofit organization, formerly known as the Oklahoma Outreach Foundation, which facilitates treatment and recovery programs for teens coping with dependency on alcohol and other drugs.

Teen Recovery Solutions leads Mission Academy, one of 24 recovery high schools in the United States. The students enrolled in the school are able to complete their education while achieving and maintaining a recovery lifestyle. The organization also provides counseling services and supports an after-school and weekend peer group that allows students to build relationships with other teens who have committed to a sober lifestyle.

“I think programs like Teen Recovery Solutions are fantastic,” Zailckas said. “Kids are drinking so much younger these days than they ever did before. The problem is so pervasive that kids need a safe place to turn to so they can recover early in life and move forward with their lives.”

Advocate of therapy

Zailckas said she is an advocate for therapy and unconditional love in the recovery process.

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