addiction treatment

How is Adult & Teen Challenge Different?

The substance abuse addiction recovery program of Adult & Teen Challenge Centers have for 60 years provided a proven long-term and permanent recovery from addictions. It is the largest and longest continuously operated group of addiction recovery centers in the world, with over 200 centers in the U.S. and 300 centers worldwide

Rather than considering addiction a “disease,” Adult & Teen Challenge Centers look to the underlying root causes of the problem. They approach the root of addiction as being an individual’s unfulfilled longing or a void in their life.  The addiction was triggered by these deep felt issues in the addict’s life.  Since any addict can detox and get off alcohol or drugs for a time, the goal is to find long term recovery and success.  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. 

So, the substances destroy the individual’s relationships, trustworthiness, career, finances and their physical and mental health. 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.

So, to unwrap the layers of addition, Adult & Teen Challenge Centers take several steps, and these steps cannot be rushed.  Once you understand these steps, you will see why it takes a full year to accomplish.  Typical high-cost, short term rehabs can be  quite convincing that they can solve additions in a much shorter period of time.  Sadly, we then hear of individuals and celebrities attending one rehab after another — never getting to the root of the problem.

Have you wondered why the rehab industry generally keeps their term short? Here’s why.  First, because it is more palatable for individuals to think they can “fix” their addiction(s) quicker and get back to their life, their family and their job.  Secondly, because most insurance programs will only participate in funding the first 90 days of an inpatient program.  So, the expensive for-profit rehabs can make the most money by having a quick revolving door. 

On the contrary, Adult & Teen Challenge programs are non-profit.  To keep costs low and standards high, they don’t work with insurance companies. They focus their efforts on permanent recovery, no matter how long it takes, not on profits and repeat customers.  They keep the cost for the individuals and families to a minimum, seeking most of their operational funding through donations from the community.  That support gives the program enough time to work with the addict to totally transform their life, for good.  And that is why Adult & Teen Challenge programs are so successful.

Why These Steps Can Take A Year

The first step is to detox and to purge the substances and their immediate control over the addicted individual. This 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 still won’t happen from a few days or even weeks of counseling.  Change happens day in and day out, over many months, while the individual lives in an environment where their lies, negative motivations, and improper actions are constantly challenged.  It happens as they make mistakes and are called out for those mistakes by the staff or peers in the program. All of this feedback helps them to gradually learn to think and act differently.  As in establishing any healthy habit, repetition is the key to long-term success, so it gradually becomes more natural and automatic.

At Adult & Teen Challenge centers, the underlying person is worked on, rebuilding them from the inside out.  The addict learns to “own” their mistakes and works to solve them.  Peers in the program show them the way (this is a major 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 ones).  From the start, a reliance on a “higher power” is emphasized, in this case being a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Addicts cannot change their own hearts — they need to cry out to their Maker and put the hard work on His shoulders.  They have tried to rid the addiction from themselves, but have failed again and again.  They know they cannot change on their own, due to their own feelings of inadequacy and past failures.

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 Christ will accept them as they are, and forgives 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 therefore seek the forgiveness of others, and that is a critical step forward.  Through Christ they gain the strength and desire to seek the forgiveness of others in their life that they have harmed.  Surprisingly, they learn early on that others are more than happy to forgive them, and that’s a huge relief.

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.

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

Adult & Teen Challenge doesn’t leave the individual there, since there is still a partial void in the former addict’s life. Confidence, poise, and a plan for their future must be strengthened or rebuilt.  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.  The addict is assigned work while gradually moving them outside of a protected, drug-free environment. Such service work to the community teaches them humility and yet it is fulfilling to them to produce something each day, no matter how menial.  The work is 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, and the program helps them get launched in that new vocation.  

How Do Adult & Teen Challenge Programs 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.  They have 60 years of evidence that this model works, so the community gets behind them.  They are very successful at transforming individuals who were once enslaved by addiction into vibrant, productive and peaceful individuals who care for others, so the community is very grateful.  

Adult & Teen Challenge Centers Have Among the Best Recovery and Long-Term Success Rates

  • It’s Counter-Intuitive

    Addiction is rarely intuitive, and what makes sense isn’t necessarily what works. The user will often vigorously deny the existence of a problem if confronted. Call us to learn what you can do to get an addict into treatment.  We’ll walk you through the steps.

  • You Need to Say

    You need to speak the truth to an addict — not in a torrent of frustration and rage—but firmly so the message is unmistakable. “You have a problem—you need to change—you need help. I can’t change you. I won’t make any more excuses for you. Help is available, but you must choose to get it.”

In an Adult & 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!

Why Choose This Recovery Program First?

Long-term residential recovery programs like Adult & Teen Challenge differ from typical short-term programs you hear so much about.  Short-term “revolving door” programs are visited again and again by relapsed addicts, never solving the core of the problem.  The addict has to return again and again, costing them, their insurance carrier, or their family tens of thousands of dollars each time.  Every day Adult & Teen Challenge centers take in addicts who have previously attended 5, 10, 20 or even 30 costly short-term rehabs, all to no avail. They should have come to Adult & Teen Challenge first.

So, why is Adult & Teen Challenge different?  It is one of few programs that will dedicate a whole year to work with each addict.  That is a huge financial commitment by the organization and community, but it is time needed in order for the recovery rates to be what they are.  The day-to-day structure, community, and faith emphasis over such an extended period of time brings addicts slowly out of wrong and drug-impacted thinking into an awareness of a purpose for their life and a new way of thinking and living.  Such a new purpose and way of living is one that has no place for abusing drugs or alcohol; addiction is replaced by self-love, peace, happiness, purpose and an excitement for the future.

Will Forced Avoidance of Substances Solve the Problem?

The short answer is “No.”  Detoxing and keeping an individual from drugs or alcohol only lasts as long as the addict is in a very controlled environment.  After that, if other life issues are not deal with, the addict will return to the addiction.  This isn’t because it is a disease — it is a learned behavior for covering up the individual’s hurts and longings and it feels really good, at first.  Yes, Adult & Teen Challenge programs separate addicts from their addicting substances for a longer period, but the harder work they do is to replace the addiction with a whole new way of living.  They gradually work the individual back into the community, with a new goal in life and as they have the strength to avoid negative behaviors and environments on their own.

Adult & Teen Challenge centers also teach responsibility, work ethic and pride in work. More importantly, they instill truthfulness and trustworthiness in each individual, which are the cornerstones of relationships and responsibilities. 


At the core of  the Adult & Teen Challenge program is this principle… 

“God’s love has the power to reach and transform every addict, offering them instead a life of truth, peace and purpose.  Our goal is to clear the addict’s mind and provide the right motivations, environment, training and mentorship to support this transformation.  So, if you or a loved one is on the downward spiral of substance abuse, contact an Adult & Teen Challenge program first.  We promise it will be the last rehab program you or they will ever need.”

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is characterized by an individual’s progressive loss of control over the continuing use of a substance or behavior. The user becomes obsessed with the substance or behavior despite adverse consequences and vigorously denies the existence of a problem if confronted. The user will do just about anything to maintain their addiction, so it affects not only the individual person but can also be damaging to families, relationships, careers, and many other aspects of life. The Adult & Teen Challenge residential programs are designed to provide long-term recovery from addictions.