How We’re Different
Teen Challenge recently changed it name to “Adult and Teen Challenge,” though it has also served adults for decades.
For 50 years, our substance abuse addiction recovery program has provided a proven long-term and permanent recovery from addictions. We are the largest and longest continuously operated group of addiction recovery centers in the world, with over 200 centers in the U.S. and 1,300 centers worldwide.
Rather than considering addiction a “disease,” we look to the underlying root causes of the problem. We approach addiction as starting from an individual’s unfulfilled longing or a void in their life. The addiction was triggered by these deep felt issues, so unless those are dealt with, getting the individual off the substance they are addicted to is just a short term solution. Without life change, they will go right back to the drug or alcohol after a few days, weeks or months. Any addict can go through detox and get off alcohol or drugs for a short time, while in a monitored environment. Our goal is to provide long-term recovery and lifetime avoidance of addictive substances once the individual leaves our rehab, even when hard knocks hit.
Calling addiction a “disease” is short-sighted and only deals with the symptoms of a deeper problem. While it is obvious that drugs and alcohol do affect the brain and actions once they are introduced, and those brain changes make it much harder for the addict to get off the substance, the addiction is actually precipitated by deeper personal issues. Addicts typically start “using” out of a personal need to cover up internal issues, such as a need for love, success, forgiveness, belonging, acceptance, a spiritual void, or a lack of life purpose. The addict fills such voids in their life with drugs or alcohol, which provide a temporary cover-up to the mental anguish. However, the substances will take hold and build a dependency, taking away the addict’s ability to stop on their own. The dependency becomes too powerful. Attempts to get off the substance can lead to painful and sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
Once invited in, these substances can and often do entirely take over the individual and their mindset, mentally or physically preventing them from stopping on their own. The cost of maintaining a habit can sometimes cause the addict to turn to theft (even from their own family) or selling drugs, and that can lead to jail sentences. Usually the substances are needed in higher and higher quantities or more frequently to achieve the same effect, until the addict overdoses or otherwise destroys their own body.
Without a totally new mindset and life focus to fill the void, the addict will return to their addiction again and again, ravaging their relationships, trustworthiness, career, finances and their physical and mental health. The addiction will utterly destroy them.
So, to unwrap the layers of addition, we take several steps, and these steps cannot be rushed. Once you understand them, you will see why it takes up to a year to accomplish. Typical high-cost, short-term rehabs are quite convincing that they can solve additions in a much shorter period of time. They are a joke in the media — we often hear of celebrities attending one after another and never solving their addiction. That is because their life issues have not been dealt with.
Have you wondered why the rehab industry generally keeps their term short? First, because it is more palatable to the addict or their family for the problem to be “fixed” quicker. Secondly, because most insurance programs will only participate in the first 90 days. So, the expensive rehabs make the most money by having a revolving door. On the contrary, we are nonprofit, to keep costs low, and we don’t take insurance. We focus our efforts on permanent recovery, no matter how long it takes, not on profits, insurance and repeat customers. We keep the cost for the individual or their family to a minimum, seeking most of our operational funding from donations from the community. That support gives us enough time to work with each addict to totally transform their life, for good. And that is why Adult and Teen Challenge programs are so successful.
Why These Steps Can Take A Full Year
The first step is to detox and to purge the substances and their immediate control over the addicted individual, which alone can take weeks or even months in a highly monitored and daily tested environment. Withdrawal can be an anguishing, difficult and sometimes dangerous experience. After that period, real change cannot happen from a few days or weeks of counseling — it happens day in and day out, over many months, as the individual lives in an environment where their lies, negatives motivations, and improper actions are constantly challenged. It happens as they make mistakes, are called out for those mistakes by the staff or other peers in the program, helping them to gradually learn to think and act differently. As in building any healthy habit, repetition is the key to long-term success, so it becomes natural and automatic.
We work on underlying person, rebuilding them up from the inside out. The addict learns to “own” their mistakes and works to solve them. Peers in the program are a critical force in showing them the way (another reason why the long-term aspect is so powerful, because individuals who have been in the program longer naturally mentor and lift up the newer intakes).
Deliverance = Reliance on a Higher Power
The addict has failed again and again, on many levels. They know they cannot change on their own, due to their own feelings of inadequacy, guilt and repeated past failures. So from the very start, a reliance on a “higher power” is emphasized. We believe in the life-changing effect that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can have on an addict’s their life. They cannot change their own hearts — they need to cry out to their Maker and put the hard work on His shoulders. Christ and the Holy Spirit become their constant companion, bringing them peace, fulfillment, purpose, kindness, truthfulness and a desire to do good.
At first, the addict feels unforgivable; like a huge failure for all of the hurt and damage they have done. But once they realize that Jesus Christ will accept them as they are, and forgive them unconditionally, a whole new window opens up to them. They again feel worthy of moving on — worthy of being forgiven — because the Creator of the Universe has forgiven them and has taken a huge burden off their shoulders. A deep desire wells up within them to also seek the forgiveness of others, and that is a critical step forward. Through Christ they gain the strength and a burning desire to seek the forgiveness of others in their life that they have harmed. Surprisingly to them, others who see the change in their demeanor and attitudes are more than happy to forgive them, and that’s a huge relief.
Reintroducing Truth To the Addict’s Life
If there is one thing that is common to all addicts it is that they have become the best of liars — to friends, employers, family and even to themselves. Moreover, they are blame-shifters, never taking responsibility for their own actions. Introducing Christ into their life also means introducing truth, where truth had become lost to them. Former addicts can see through the lies of new intakes, so they are a very effective tool of the program to hold the newer peers accountable. Truth and transparency become a pivotal focus from this point forward, often taught with tough love, but always approached with acceptance, understanding and care. Eventually, the addict realizes that the only way to live is to put away their constant lies and approach life from the truth, with the help of Christ.
Christ is the “Sponsor”… the Church is the Meeting Place
In most rehab programs and in the 12-Step model, a sponsor (another former addict who will hold the individual accountable) is needed for the remainder of the addict’s life to keep them from relapsing, along with regular once or twice a week AA or NA meetings. However, in our program, Jesus Christ becomes the former addict’s “Sponsor,” along with the support of a family of like-minded believers in a local church. The Church provide the regular fellowship needed to keep the former addict in line. This family-friendly model continues to build up the individual. Rather than attending AA or NA meetings for the remainder of their life, the former addict attends a church with friends and family. They can move forward in life, rather than constantly being brought back to their difficult past or told that they have a lifelong “disease.”
Change Doesn’t Really Sink in Unless it is Lived
While temporarily clean from drugs, straight with God, and after curbing their lying to themselves and others, they still need a new path forward and a plan or they could fall right back into their old ways. The program therefore shifts toward introducing new elements into their life, including: humility, compassion, vocation and a strong work ethic. There is still a partial void in the former addict’s life having to do with their future. So, several months of hard work needs to happen. Confidence, poise, and a healthy vocation must be built. The addict is assigned work while gradually moving outside of the protected, drug-free environment in our facility. Such service work to the community teaches the resident humility and yet it is fulfilling to them to produce something each day, no matter how menial. The work is initially done in groups, with each member of the group watching out for the others, all the while testing their own resolve to stay clean and to hold each other accountable. Menial work gradually shifts to a focus on finding a fulfilling vocation that the former addict can successfully move into after graduating, if they had none previously. We help them get launched in that new vocation.
How Do We Charge So Little?
Adult and Teen Challenge programs are supported by the community and recoup only a small part of their cost from the tuition that is charged. We have 50 years of evidence that this model works, so the community gets behind us. We are very successful at transforming individuals who were once enslaved by addiction into vibrant, productive and peaceful individuals who care for others. The community is therefore very grateful!
In an Adult and Teen Challenge Outcomes Study by The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- 92% of graduates reported good to excellent health a year later.
- 86% reported they were drug-free a year later.
- 72% of the graduates continued their education upon completion of the program.
- 75% of the graduates were employed a year later, with 73% being fully self-supported by earning their own salary.
Compare these numbers with statistics of most other short-term rehabs, which are typically in the single digits!
- Legal Trouble?
We do accept individuals who have been in trouble with the law or are in jail. Courts have allowed addicts time here in lieu of jail, because they know how effective our program can be to completely change hearts and lives.
- Personal Growth
We help the addict sprout new leafs and grow a new life, free of addiction and the pain that led them to their addiction. We are all about planting the seeds of new life and helping the individual grow into a new creature in Christ.
- Vocationally Focused
We teach humility, care, trustworthiness and the traits of a good worker. We help the former addict find a new vocation and rebuild their future. Having a strong future plan keeps the individual excited about life and self-supporting.
What Our Past Redidents Say
“When I was fourteen years old my uncle kidnaped me, raped me, and a lot of other horrible things occurred during this time. At the age of fourteen, I began smoking crack and using cocaine in order to cope with life. I became addicted to Methamphetamines and a lot of other drugs. I was caught trafficking drugs, and was facing 15 felonies and a lot of other charges, but instead of getting help, I turned to a legal drug — alcohol — instead. I thought I had finally gotten my life together because alcohol was legal. I started going to college, but I could not stop drinking. Then I ended up overdosing on cocaine. The last thing I remember was my friends talking about dropping me off at the emergency room and leaving me there. It was the lowest point in my life. Someone told my parents about Adult & Teen Challenge, so they brought me there. I was reluctant at first, but eventually got with the program. Here, the Lord saved me from my addiction, from destruction, and crowned me with his loving kindness and tender mercies. I now have that peace that passes all understanding and joy that ever floods my soul. I never had such a great love for God and others as I do today, even though I may be facing prison time. I have peace. I came into this program with a heart full of bitterness and hatred, but God exchanged that hatred for love.”
“I spent my entire earlier life addicted to drugs and alcohol, since I was a teenager. I found myself alone, exhausted, and with no self-respect or love in my heart. I was on empty in every way possible. My two youngest boys were taken into state custody and my marriage was falling apart. So, I contacted Adult & Teen Challenge. While there my heart was renewed every day as my relationship with my Lord and Savior grew stronger. My identity changed from being a drug addict, poor mom, and nagging wife into a child of the Most High God. My husband and I renewing our vows, our family is fully restored, and I will be spending the rest of my life loving and ministering to others.”
“God has delivered me from the bondage of addiction, anger, fear, depression and self-loathing. Adult & Teen Challenge made it possible for me to lift my head with real hope for the future. I used to depend on the bottle in my hand for survival, but now I’ve thrown the bottle away and I’m holding on to Jesus.”