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Guest Blogger – Brad Schmitt

For today’s blog post we have a very special guest blogger, Brad Schmitt! Brad is a Nashville based blogger over at Nashville Recovers, and today he will share a glimpse of what recovery looks like and some of the road blocks older peers face when trying to help motivate young adults  to start on a new path. This is his story. 

The facilitator tried to warn us.

“These kids,” she said, “can be, well, uh, a little difficult.”

STARS Nashville started a 12-step recovery meeting for clients ages 13-18, and the facilitator wanted real live recovering addicts in the meeting to share their experiences with these burgeoning addicts (addicts in training?).

So I gathered a handful of 20-something people in recovery, folks who were just a few years away from their heavy drug-using high school days.

Ya see, in my mind, the teens would totally relate to my young tattooed pierced bad-ass recovery friends.

And my young recovery friends thought the same thing.

“I went in kind of like, I’m not too far removed from these kids, and these kids are going to relate to me,” said Nick, 24. “And I’ll relate to them.”

“These kids want to get clean and I’m gonna help them. I’m going to go in there and save them! Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but that was kind of my mindset.”

I think all of us went in there with that mindset. Hooray for us! We’ll save these poor misguided youth.

One small problem – we all forgot that when we were pot-smoking, pill-snorting, beer-drinking teens, we didn’t give a damn about being clean.

And it didn’t matter if we got in trouble. In fact, if we got busted, if we were ordered – by parents, by police, by clergy, by school – to stay away from drugs, that made us want to use even more.

Can you guess what happened when we had our first meetings with these kids?

We recovery folks would be pouring out our guts, being really honest about how drugs took us to dark places, getting emotional.

And the kids, well, they didn’t really give a crap. They talked to each other, they played games on their phones, they texted each other and their friends outside the meeting, they fell asleep.

They even talked back to the recovery folks who were sharing.

“Man, you ain’t no addick,” one teen spit at Nick.

“Uh, yeah dude, I am,” Nick said.

“You don’t look like no addick.”

Nick’s blood boiled. And he wasn’t the only one.

Hey, I was 47 years old when I started going to those meetings, the grown up of the group. And I got frustrated, even angry. I actually walked out halfway through one meeting.

“Dude, where’d you go??” Nick texted me.

“Sorry, I can’t handle it,” I texted back.

“WTF Brad?”

Sigh. WTF indeed.

It became clear that these kids were there against their wills, ordered by schools, parents, courts, whomever. And that became frustrating for us.

But we kept coming back.


“I talked to my sponsor about it,” Nick said.

“He pointed out that not only would I have acted that way when I was their age, but that I did act that way. I’ve been in groups like that at age 16, and I acted like an ass.”

But at each meeting, there was always one kid – it was a different kid each week – but there was one who actually paid attention.

And then a funny thing happened after the meetings – we’d go outside and smoke, and some of the kids, one on one, would approach one or two of us. And they’d ask questions about recovery, about meetings, about being clean.

And those kids would share, would spill out all sorts of details about their drug use, their bad family situations, their struggles and pain.

It was… magic. The after-meeting meetings were places of real sharing, and there, some healing began.

My friend Big Phil started reaching out to the kids individually after the meeting.

“Hey little homie,” he would boom, “what it do?”

I’m not really sure what that means, but I do know it started conversations that had the little homies really talking to Phil.

The hope is that we’re planting seeds. Maybe the kids got nothing out of it.

But we learned about patience, tolerance, acceptance and compassion.

So thanks to STARS for having those meetings. Turns out we recovering addicts are the ones who needed them.

Over at Nashville Recovers, Brad writes everything from his real life experiences to sharing other people’s stories along with providing helpful resources and tools for people who are on the path of recovery. We encourage anyone who is or has someone in their life struggling with an addiction to check out his blog!

Where Else Can I Find Brad Schmitt? 

UPDATED 9.22.2015

Brad’s Blog @  Nashville Recovers

Brad Schmitt writes the Inside Nashville column for The Tennessean, telling personal, insider stories about Music City’s movers and shakers.
Brad also has worked for WKRN-News 2 and worked before for The Tennessean as the writer of celebrity news column “Brad About You.”

Need Support? 

For more information and referrals in dealing with addiction, 24/7, call the Tennessee REDLINE at (800) 889-9789

Local to Middle Tennessee? STARS Youth Overcoming Drug Abuse (YODA) program located in Nashville, TN provides compassionate care for adolescents and young adults with substance use and co-occurring disorders. YODA provides free treatment services to youth ages 13-18 who are uninsured or have insurance that will not pay for treatment.

Visit us at the Youth Opportunity Center, 1704 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203, or visit our website.

For referral & intake call our confidential line: (615) 983-6809

National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

STARS is deeply committed to creating a culture and work space that centers on the power of relationships, that values diversity of perspective and experience, and that honors the dignity, worth, and contributions of all.