How We’re Different
For nearly 60 years, our alcohol and substance abuse addiction recovery program has provided long-term recovery for tens of thousands of individuals. 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 over 1,000 more centers worldwide.
Rather than considering addiction a lifetime “disease,” we look to the underlying root causes of the initial addiction or dependency. We approach addiction as starting from an individual’s unfulfilled longing or that there was a void in their life. The addiction was triggered by deepfelt issues, so unless those issues are dealt with first, 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 while, especially in a highly 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.
Addicts and alcoholics typically start “using” or drinking out of a personal need to cover up some internal issues, such as a need for love, success, forgiveness, belonging, acceptance, a spiritual void, or a lack of life purpose. The individual fills such voids in their life with drugs or alcohol, which provide temporary relief for the mental anguish they are feeling. However, these substances will take hold and build a chemical dependency in their body, taking away any ability for the addict to stop on their own. The dependency becomes too powerful and attempts to get off these substances can often lead to painful and sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
Once invited in, these substances can 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, which 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, employer, or the 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, and that wreaks havoc on the individual and their loved ones. Addicts have to go back to short-term rehabs again and again, until their loved ones have completely run out of money. And in-between, the addict goes right back to their habit, creating a roller-coaster existence for them and their loved ones.
On the contrary, our centers are operated as nonprofits, so our fees are very low. We focus our efforts on permanent recovery, no matter how long it takes. We keep the investment 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 & Teen Challenge programs are so successful.
Why Recovery Can Take A Full Year
The first step is to recovery is detox. It is meant to purge the substances and their immediate control over the addicted individual. This alone can take weeks or even months, depending on the substance, in a highly monitored and daily tested environment. Withdrawal can be an anguishing, difficult and sometimes dangerous. After detox is completed, the real work begins, but change cannot happen from a few days or weeks of counseling. Change 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 the individual makes mistakes and is called out for those mistakes by the staff or peers that have been in the program longer. Time is the greatest tool in our arsenal, along with the wise counsel of our staff, and spiritual renewal. The individuals in our program gradually learn to think and act differently. As in building any healthy habit, repetition is the key to long-term success, so proper thinking and actions become natural and automatic.
We work on underlying person, rebuilding them up from the inside out. The addict learns to “own” their mistakes, solve them, and not repeat them. Along with our staff, peers in the program are a critical force in showing the way, because these individuals who have been in the program longer and naturally mentor and want to lift up the newer residents.
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 of our program, 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. None of us can change our own hearts — we need to cry out to our Maker and put the hard work on His shoulders. Christ and the Holy Spirit become a constant companion to the addict, bringing peace, fulfillment, purpose, kindness, truthfulness and a desire to be clean and do what is right.
At first, an addict or alcoholic 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 to serve others. 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. Most of our staff are former addicts themselves, so they can see through the lies of the residents. 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 or alcoholic 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.
Change Doesn’t Really Sink in Unless it is Lived
After several months, residents in our program are clean from drugs and alcohol, straight with God, and curbing their lying to themselves and others. But 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 positive elements into their life, including service, 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 and their purpose in life. So, several months of hard work needs to happen. Confidence, poise and a healthy vocation must be created for them, and gradually moving outside of the protected, drug-free environment in our facility. 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 & 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 nearly 60 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 & Teen Challenge Outcomes Study by The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- 92% of Adult & Teen Challenge graduates reported good to excellent health a year later.
- 86% of Adult & Teen Challenge graduates reported they were drug-free a year later.
- 72% of Adult & Teen Challenge graduates continued their education upon completion of the program.
- 75% of Adult & Teen Challenge graduates were employed a year later, with 73% being fully self-supporting.
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 Residents Say
“I started using drugs when I was 15 yrs old. It progressed all through high school into my freshman year in college. I had good intentions to stay clean, but wrong choices always lead me back to my old ways. I was running from myself. Every attempt ended the same, jail or rehab. It became a vicious circle and I lost my family and everything in the process. I thought I would never get clean. I hated myself and thought I was better off dead. One day when the pain was too great for me to bear, I cried out to God and He led me to Adult & Teen Challenge. After entering the program, I felt the Lord’s presence and a strong sense of brotherhood. I started to learn what it meant to live a Christ-centered life. The relationship with my family is now restored beyond what I thought was possible. I now have a purpose and identity. Thank God for this program!
“Doing drugs and drinking alcohol was the relief to my pain of the loss of my father at twelve. He committed suicide, leaving me, my brother, my sister and mom. Losing him brought anger into my life. I didn’t know how to control the anger; therefore, I began to use drugs to ease the pain. Eventually I began stealing in order to support my addiction. I was on a path of destruction. I put my family through a lot of hurt and pain. I came in to Adult and Teen Challenge lost, broken and ready to change. Since then, God has renewed my mind and my family relationships are healing. God gave me a second chance here. I give all honor and glory to God for what he’s done in my heart.”
“I was dropped off at Adult & Teen Challenge by my oldest brother brought, who told me, ‘Twenty-five other drug programs wouldn’t take you in because of your criminal record. Don’t mess up this chance. If you quit or run, you’ll be dead.’ The first few days of detox and entering Adult & Teen Challenge were brutal beyond description. I was so depressed from being homeless, friendless, and no options except rehab. Today, I am whole again and can only say a special thank you and prayer for the Adult & Teen Challenge director who said ‘Yes’ while twenty-five other rehabs said ‘No’. ”
“I went through a divorce and turned to drinking. Before I knew it, I was smoking pot and crack cocaine. This only led me to a lonely dead-end road. I was gone two or three days at a time with no one knowing if I was dead or alive. I finally got to the point of stealing, lying, pawning things and could not hold a job. I was having very suicidal thoughts. Since coming to Adult and Teen Challenge, God has restored to me a sound mind. I am looking forward now instead of seeing all my past failure. It has taken some time, but Adult and Teen Challenge has helped me with some of the areas of my life where I needed help… it made me strong where I was weak, given me life where I was dead, and health where I was sick.”
“I was addicted to pain pills and alcohol. My life was going nowhere fast, landing me in jail and rehabs. I came to Adult and Teen Challenge and it opened my eyes and my heart up to Jesus Christ. Now I have a new outlook on life and living. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. My future is looking bright and I’m happy to say, I am redeemed! .”
“I had a good childhood when I was growing up. Unfortunately, I was an angry child and didn’t really follow the rules. I was in trouble a lot at school and had a hard time keeping friends. I started taking my mom’s psychiatric medication and it just went absolutely nuts from there. Life became a blur of parties, drinking and drugs.
In college I continued to drink and take drugs and was never able to settle down enough to focus on school. It was difficult to balance a job, school, and drugs all at once. I quit school and continued to work and do drugs. This went on all the way up until I got arrested for a DWI. While on probation, I continued to use drugs and eventually I got caught. After getting out of jail, I went into a rehab, and then found myself right back where I started. This time my life felt like it was at rock bottom. I found out about Adult and Teen Challenge and knew I had to go. Adult and Teen Challenge introduced me to Christ and my life is now changed, when nothing else was able to do that.”
“When I turned 18, I learned that I was the product of my mother being raped when she was 15 years old. My world fell apart. I started using drugs from marijuana to cocaine. I lost everything and got arrested twice in one year for theft. My parents kicked me out and I was living on my own. I heard about Adult and Teen Challenge and at first, I was reluctant to come, but I had no choice. My first day here I broke down and got on my knees and asked God to save me from this pain. I have never been as joyful as I am today. It is by the grace of God that I know I have a future and I finally have my loving family back, too.”
“My childhood was filled with sports, almost every sport that was offered. As a young boy I attended church regularly. I took my first drink when I was 15 and cocaine when I was 17. Methamphetamines were also a part of my appetite. All of my fun became congruent with my drug habits. Then instead of drowning my sorrow, my drug habit began to drown my happiness. Before I knew it I was a complete mess, spiritually, mentally, and even physically. I had somehow skipped becoming a man. It was time to change.
My Aunt and Uncle knew that I wanted help. They referred me to Adult and Teen Challenge. It was there that God restored me so completely that I feel better than ever. I have several job opportunities waiting for me. I consult with God about every problem I have. He is my hero. He has taken my mess and turned it into a message for others who have lost their way.”
“When I was 13 years old I woke up one morning and my mom had passed away from an aneurism. That was the day my world fell apart. My mom was my best friend, and now she was gone. That day I gave up on life and on myself. After my mom passed away I moved in with my dad, which meant I had to move to another town. By the age of 16 I was a full-blown alcoholic and addict and was in and out of jail. I was hurting! I couldn’t understand why I had to lose my mom. When I was 20 years old, I got into more legal trouble and was forced to come to Adult and Teen Challenge. God has done amazing things in my life since then. He has completely restored the trust and love back in my family and turned my world upside down. I actually like who I am becoming now. God has also put a desire in me to become a youth pastor and that is something I intend to pursue. God is and has done amazing in my life and I can’t wait to see what else He is going to do.”
“I remember one day when I woke up in a crack house with the electricity turned off and people crashed out everywhere and wondered how I got there. How in my journey through life, with all the talents I had, with all of the community support and all of the family love I had, how I could be at this place and think that it was normal?
Looking back, in college I went wild. I met a beautiful co-ed. We drank, we got into drugs, we dropped out of college together and we had an abortion together. When that relationship ended, I met a lovely lady and we drank and did drugs, but this lady decided to keep the resulting baby. I spent the next nine years drinking and drugging myself, moving from job to job and woman to woman. I went to a secular rehab and later moved into a transition home. My roommate was a close friend from rehab. He was a smart, sharp-looking 21-year-old kid who had gotten strung out on crack. Then one day I found him hanging from an exposed pipe by his twisted bed sheets. His suicide note told of his dark journey back into addiction and said that he was handling it the only way he knew how. That experience shocked me out of my temporary sobriety. I didn’t see any more hope, so I went back to drugs.
It took me another ten years to hit bottom, where I finally looked up to God. My mother encouraged me to enter Adult and Teen Challenge. I did and soon accepted Christ’s forgiveness. Finally, I had spiritual and physical restoration. I know that I’ve been forgiven, now God is using me to help give back to others what he has given back to me.”