Zane is nervous as he tells his story. In his words, "it's not all that pretty."
The handsome young man, described as "charming," "suave," "sneaky," "manipulative" and "in charge" most of his life, is clearly uncomfortable, twisting his interlaced fingers around each other and shifting nervously. Still, he makes steady eye contact and, though his Adam's apple bobs a little, he is obviously trying to tell his story without glossing over the painful parts (something, he said, he used to "make an art form").Zane started drinking when he was 15, dropped out of school, and at 18 made cocaine his best friend. By the time he was arrested at age 24, he was a "confirmed liar," constantly hurting family and friends in a quest to sate his addiction.
"I couldn't be counted on for anything," he said. "I was falsifying identification, forging checks and well on my way to prison. In fact, I was literally on my way to county jail."
He wanted to sever his addiction but didn't know how and was "too out of control to do anything about it."
The court took away his options. So for the past 10 1/2 months he has made sometimes painfully slow but still noticeable progress at Odyssey House, where he is in residential treatment for substance abuse.
"We can't just treat the addiction," said Glen Lambert, Odyssey House executive director. "We have to take a holistic approach and deal with a lot of issues. If we cure the abuse and the person is still restricted from a normal, productive life, we haven't done the community or the person a favor."
Odyssey House's adolescent treatment program has about 25 slots, and adult treatment can handle about 50. It's self-contained and offers various therapies, psychiatric care, education, specialized programs, recreational services and vocational rehabilitation.
Vocational rehabilitation is important to the residents and to the program's survival. Besides imparting marketable skills and work-ready habits, voc rehab pays for treatment for 10 people who couldn't afford it. And by working so that others can get help, patients learn empathy and caring for their peers.
Zane works in the upholstery shop. Others do carpentry, landscaping, construction or work in a moving company. Some learn accounting skills on the financial/office side of business.
The money is crucial. The non-profit organization must raise about $450,000 a year in addition to grants it receives in order to operate. The biggest fund-raiser is the annual Spring Fling, which will be held April 30 at Green Street from 6-10 p.m. The $25 admission includes a buffet and entertainment by the Alter Ego band. Corporations and stores have donated items for auction.
"It's been frustrating, trying to pick things up," Zane said. "But I'm getting there. I'm finishing school - with a 3.8 average - and I can get up in the morning, work a full day and still feel good." I'm dealing with frustration, and I'm able to control and separate my emotions. I've put it back together with my family; they've been wonderfully supportive. I know I'll be able to hold down a job, and I'm finally through running."
"An odyssey is a journey," Lambert said. "This one takes great courage because it's very hard. To graduate requires a lot of change. I admire these people."