By: Danni Eickenhorst, Content Specialist, Midland Division
Odean Savage, 49, was born and raised in St. Louis, living out his youth as an active member of a devoutly Christian family. “My mother did everything right,” he recalls, but in November of 2009, Odean found himself at The Salvation
Army’s Harbor Light facility on Washington Avenue, searching for direction.
After a 30-year self-described “tailspin” of addiction, Odean found himself homeless and hopelessly addicted. “I had nowhere else to go. I thought life was over for me. I had wasted the prime of my life in drugs, addiction and jail. I had lost a 10 year marriage. I got to a point where I wondered what I would do with the next 20 years I got left.”
At the age of 13, Odean found himself dabbling in alcohol and marijuana with cousins and friends. Through high school, he began using PCP and cocaine. He was able to finish two years of college and to hold down a number of lucrative jobs, but his addiction held ultimate control over his life.
“The types of jobs I had, I should have been able to retire on that income, but I could never hold down one for long.”
Odean tried several recovery programs over the years, but nothing seemed to “click,” and really help him make a lasting change. “I thought I would die in it, my addiction. I thought there was no way out for me,” he says.
Even when he arrived at the Harbor Light facility in November of 2009, he wasn’t certain he would be able to make the change. “I didn’t know if I would make it,” he remembers, “but I was open and accepting to it, and in the end, it was the spiritual component that really made the difference this time.”
Odean entered the Harbor Light’s recovery program and became active in the “Recovery with Jesus” program. “I saw everything I’d done in my life reflected in the bible,” said Odean, “and I started to read the bible and learn more about God. It made me want more of God, and more of God’s will. This is really recovery/spirituality.”
Savage began attending discipleship classes and became a soldier of The Salvation Army on Easter Sunday in 2010. He will celebrate two years of sobriety this November, and now lives a stable life on his own. Despite his incredible success, sobriety has been no easy task for Odean.
“Sometime it’s lonely,” he says, noting that in order to protect his sobriety he has had to cut out all of the people who were once in his life, “but I know that God will put the right people in my life at the right time, and for now I have all of my friends at The Salvation Army.”
The defense of his sobriety and spirit are foremost in Odean’s mind. “It took me a long time to get here. I wasn’t ready for a long time. I knew God, but had to come to Him in my own time. I now protect myself in ways I didn’t before,” he says, recalling that when he first left the program, he came to the Harbor Light every day of the week, just as if he never left, until he was able to feel safe being on his own. Now he comes a few days a week, but is able to enjoy independence, knowing that he is firmly rooted in his temperance.
“I would walk down the street with no money in my pocket, so that if I wanted a drink, it would be a process to obtain the funds to get that drink. Now I know that I can have money in my pocket. I can go out to lunch from time to time. I can do these things and go on with my life.”
Odean has found happiness in a way of life he never imagined would provide such joy. “I now live on about [25%] of what I used to make, but I have my bills covered, and all of my life is devoted to giving back to God. I have such happiness, such peace of mind. I can relax and just focus on loving God… He promised to provide and he does.”
His goals for the future are modest. “It’s the simple things I want,” he says, “I hope to find a wife, a spiritual woman, and to keep living life in the Lord. I’m not expecting miracles, because God has already performed a miracle in me.”
Savage attends church several times weekly, volunteers for Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services, and shares his story with all who are willing to listen, in the hope that he can inspire others to find their path.