|“THERE’S PROBABLY SOMETHING WRONG WITH HER BRAIN. YOU KNOW HER MOTHER IS AN ALCOHOLIC”.|
Annual Appeal 2015
This comment is one of Chloe’s earliest memories. They were the words spoken about Chloe by one primary school teacher to another. She didn’t even know what an alcoholic was. The comment was made because she was the only child in the class who didn’t know her home address. She was just 5 years old.
Chloe has lots of memories of her childhood. Her parents separated when she was just 2. She remembers trying to get her mum out of bed each morning, so she could help get her ready and take her to school. This happened most days, and most days she was late for school.
Chloe remembers the nights when she would ask her Grandma if she could stay up late. Chloe just wanted to see her mum and would wait for her mum to return home from her job as a bartender. Grandma would tuck her in to bed and reassure her that everything would be alright. Chloe still remembers the vivid nightmares she used to have of her mum lying dead across a bar, never to come home again. While her fears were never realised, Chloe’s childhood was filled with anxiety about her mum’s wellbeing and concern about being abandoned.
After a while, the local school crossing lady noticed what was happening and began to help Chloe get to school on time. One morning, the crossing lady brought another woman along with her. This would be a turning point. Chloe later guessed that she was a case worker from Child Protection, as the woman told her Mum that,
“if she didn’t get her act together, they would be taking
Chloe away from her.”
This was the catalyst her mum needed. They soon moved into a short-term, residential rehabilitation program together and Chloe’s mum began her journey to recovery.
This story is common among the families that Odyssey House works with in our programs but it doesn’t end there. While Chloe’s mum did overcome her drinking problem, find work, and go on to live a full and meaningful life, the effect on Chloe was longer lasting. She started her own counselling at age 8, but her issues with anxiety persisted. At age 17, Chloe came to see our Youth Services Team. She was smoking marijuana heavily and binge drinking every weekend. The evidence suggests that children like Chloe are at higher risk of developing their own addictions and mental health issues. However, following 2 months of work with Chloe, she has finally learned to manage her anxiety without turning to alcohol or other drugs, and she is much more positive about her future. So are we!
At Odyssey House, we know that families need support when someone has an addiction problem. Unfortunately, recent funding cuts have affected our Youth and Family Programs. While we will continue to support families as best we can, we need your help. As one of our supporters, we ask that you help break cycles of addiction by making a donation today.