For Aaron and Kayley, it's a way to “pay it forward” and share their experience, strength, and hope. It's also one way they are hoping to avoid any return trips through the misery of drug and alcohol abuse for themselves and the students they work with, such as Trevor.
Trevor is only 14, but already has been through a battle with a prescription painkiller.
“I hated taking a look at my past and looking at all the crappy things I've done to people, but that's what it required for me,” Trevor said.
Instead of feeling surrounded by toxic temptations of abuse, Trevor believes he has recovery all around him. The school and the alternative peer group can be the brick and mortar allowing the teen to build a much sturdier way of life.
“It's good to have people that are younger who can relate to you,” Trevor said. “And even if I was sober in a public school, I don't feel like there's someone I could run to and say like ‘Hey man I really want to go get high right now,' but I could go into Mike's office any time of the day and tell him that and he'd be able to talk with me.
“These are people who are staying sober with you, around you, who can support you.”
Maddox said, “Once students come in we want them to see some benefits of change, to see how their use of drugs or alcohol has been damaging some part of their lives whether it's family or social relationships, legal issues or their spiritual or moral values.”
Teen Recovery Solutions offers teens and families options and support needed to learn a better way of living in recovery, Oden said.
The program includes recovery therapy groups and parent groups that offer education and counseling with the families.
But there are also activities. They include kayaking, bowling or rock climbing during alternative peer group activities after school and on weekends. These are times that might be especially troublesome for some teens struggling with addictions, Maddox said.
During the recent fall break, the staff and students of Mission Academy took a few days to go to Beavers Bend in southeastern Oklahoma. Instead of opening textbooks, they climbed up in the saddle and rode horses. Instead of sitting in chairs next to a table, they met around a lakeside camp fire. And while Kayley and the others may not remember the words, they likely won't forget the experience — the positive experience.
Maddox said that euphoric feeling they desire to find in alcohol or drugs, will chase them down a nightmarish road. So it's very important to provide teens with those positive experiences.
“We're trying to take them out of that grasp,” he said. “We want to show them there are much more worthwhile things in life.”