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Narconon | Young baseball pitcher loses the game to drug cocktail overdose

A year ago, 26-year-old John C. Odom was a baseball pitcher, good enough to have been drafted into the San Francisco Giants system. On Election Night, John’s partying got out of control, and a cocktail of heroin, methamphetamine, alcohol and the stimulant party drug benzylpiperazine killed him.

As a high school student, John was a “lost youth,” by his own description, who was dismissed from the baseball team. A few years later, he displayed a 90-mph fastball at Tallahassee Community College and made the team. In 2003, he was drafted by the Giants and spent four years in the farm system. He went through the elbow tendon surgery known as Tommy John surgery to enable him to continue to play. Ironically, his unique tattoo over the surgery scar helped the medical examiner identify John’s body after his death.

In 2008, he was released from the Giants and was offered a job by a Calgary team. When that job fell apart, a freakish trade of Odom’s contract for ten maple baseball bats made him a temporary celebrity. A poor performance in Texas seemed to be the beginning of his unraveling. The manager realized that Odom was responding to crowd taunts by becoming withdrawn. After his third Texas start, John told the manager he had to go home. “I really believe, knowing his background, that this drove him back to the bottle, that it put him on the road to drugs again,” said manager Dan Shwam.

When John died in November 2008, no one knew who he was until the medical examiner made an internet search of John’s tattoo. The tattoo featured the Latin words roughly translated as “Pain equals wisdom.”

John’s death is a reminder that all too often, earlier problems with drugs or alcohol can come back to haunt a person when they are faced with serious setbacks.

“The appearance of addiction can sometimes be deceiving,” said Derry Hallmark, the Director of Admissions and Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor at Narconon Arrowhead. Narconon Arrowhead is one of the country’s leading drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, located in Canadian, Oklahoma. “Some people can get clean for awhile but then problems in life drive them back into drug or alcohol abuse. The only safety for a person with this kind of problem is effective rehab that helps them learn the drug-free life skills that prevent relapse. That next relapse can be and too often is fatal.”

The Narconon program helps people achieve addiction recovery for a lifetime with a drug-free, long-term program that first addresses cravings with a thorough sauna detoxification, then provides counseling to help a person restore their enjoyment of life, followed by an array of life skills training courses. The result is that seven out of ten Narconon graduates go on to live drug-free lives.

To find immediate help for anyone who is having a problem with any kind of drug or alcohol, contact Narconon’s free addiction consultation and referral helpline at 1-800-468-6933 or visit their website at The Narconon program was founded in 1966 by William Benitez in Arizona State prison, and is based on the humanitarian works of L. Ron Hubbard. In more than 90 centers around the world, Narconon programs restore drug and alcohol abusers and addicts to a clean and sober lifestyle.


©2009 Narconon of Oklahoma, Inc. All rights reserved. NARCONON and the Narconon logo are registered trademarks and service marks owned by Association for Better Living and Education International and are used with its permission.

augusta free press
augusta free press