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 grew up in a good home, but in high school, I started hanging around people who smoked pot. I started to identify myself with that crowd at a time when people are trying to figure out who they are. When I was 17 years old, I was in a really bad car accident. Due to my injury, I was prescribed some pain medication. I liked that…too much…so I became addicted to it. Then when I couldn’t get the meds any longer, I found heroin, which was cheaper and easier to find on the street. So, I fell into a 5-year heroin addiction. When I was younger I had goals and dreams. It’s amazing when you get into this stuff how the goals and dreams go out the window. At a low point in my life, I called Adult & Teen Challenge. I had tried everything else and nothing else worked. Since coming here God has restored my life and my family.”
“I was raised in a Christian home…. active in youth camps and helping in the community. My parents got divorced, but I still had a good relationship with my father and mother. 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 and change schools. By the time I was 15, I had made new friends and started doing drugs to fill the void. Within a year I was a full-blown alcoholic and an 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 trouble, and was given the option of coming to Adult & Teen Challenge or go to jail. Since being here, God has done amazing things in my life. He has completely restored the trust and love back in my family, and turned my world upside down. I actually like who I’m becoming now. I can talk to my family without hiding who I am and what I’m feeling. God has also put a desire in me to become a youth pastor and that is something I intend to pursue.”
“I grew up in a great home where I was taught right from wrong. On the outside my life looked great; I made good grades and excelled in golf. I was even offered a scholarship to play golf in college, but by then my life had gone into a spiral. My junior year of high school I began experimenting with marijuana and alcohol. I soon started experimenting with other drugs and by my senior year I was addicted. Near the end of my senior year I was caught with drugs in my possession and that cost me my scholarship. I began using even heavier; trying any drug I could get my hands on. Then, one day I tried oxycontin and I was overtaken. The oxycontin and Xanax had me bound with no hope. For three years I continued to use rampantly. I was in and out of rehabs, psychiatric facilities, and had acquired numerous legal charges. My family was fed up with me and I was sleeping in my truck. I was dependent on the drugs physically. My life was being completely destroyed by my addiction but nothing was stopping me. Through all of the madness and drugs my mother never ceased to pray for me. Then in an intervention I agreed to give Adult & Teen Challenge a try and that was the best decision I ever made. The Lord has set me free from the bondage in which I was so tightly wrapped and that emptiness I once felt is gone. Because of God and His love I am a new man, full of joy and hope.”