TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - A local high school student is doing what she can to help her peers cope with a loved one's addiction. Lanee Dillion is a senior at Terre Haute South High School and has recently begun a peer support group. This group is meant for those who have family members who are struggling with addiction.
Dillion has already made a huge impact on her peers within the first few months of the support group. It all started three months ago and school administrators jumped on board quickly to give her the support she needed.
Four years ago, one of Lanee's parents was struggling with alcohol addiction. She wished she had a peer support group to confide in during this tough time. Three months ago, she asked her dad what it would take to start a support group for Terre Haute South students going through the same thing she did. After her principal approved the idea, they got support from the Project Aware Grant for Vigo County School Corporation.
They also have Gibault counselors who sit in on the group meetings. Lanee's goal is to give students a safe and open forum to share and to learn about the dangers of addiction. "I wish I had this going through high school," Dillion said, "I just want to be able to help students get through this very tough time in their life."
"I'm really proud of Lanee for coming forward and starting this," Project Aware Coach and School Psychologist Dr. Megan Kirk said, "She recognized the need for not only herself but for her peers and shared her voice in it."
Lanee says that addiction affects every family in different ways which is scary. No matter how big or small, she simply wants to help her peers. "Even if one person shows up to the group, that means I know in my heart that I was able to help someone in my community," she said, "Hopefully by the end of this year, we'll have this program in all the high schools. That's one of my main goals."
The group meets every Friday in a closed-off and safe area. A counselor sits in on every session teaching students about the dangers and effects of addiction. It's also a time for them to share their thoughts and feelings about their situations. Dr. Megan Kirk says this is vital for students.
"To have that common space, that safe space, for them to share what they are going through and to hear that others are going through the same thing. . . to have that mutual support...I can't really describe what that does for a student," she concluded.
While it's just the beginning stages, Lanee says the group is off to a great start and is growing. The goal is to keep making a positive impact on her peers' lives. "I think it is very successful so far," she said, "We've had a lot of students participate and I think we are getting a lot of headway with it and I feel like we are really helping and affecting these kids lives."