For years, I have heard professionals say that relapse is a part of recovery. I have read countless articles from the addiction field that confirm that recidivism is a norm in recovery. When I read my Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” Other translations say, “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation, old things have passed and behold all things have become new.”
I believe as we look at the core program stages that a student passes through in our twelve-month Teen Challenge program, we find clarity and confidence that the reality of 2 Corinthians 5:17 is what we strive to see in our students. We believe one becomes a new creation in Christ and there is no longer a need to live in the past.
One of our graduates, Jeff, was required by his probation to attend AA meetings after graduation from Teen Challenge. Jeff told me that at the weekly meetings everyone in the room would introduce themselves by saying, “Hi, my name is ______, and I am an addict/alcoholic.” They would go on to say how many days it had been since they had last used or abused. Jeff said, every week he had to attend, stand, and say those words. He said, “I knew better, I am a new creation, the old man is gone, I am new, I am free!” However, he went on to say, “I also said it felt like I was dragging a boat anchor around with me every week when I reminded myself I was an addict.”
I am so proud that at Teen Challenge we utilize a biblical basis for our program and can assure the students they are free in Christ! They no longer have to live in the emotions, pain, and memories of the past. There is freedom in Christ, and there is a joy in knowing that you no longer have to drag a boat anchor of hurt and pain around with you. I’m happy to say that Jeff finished his probation, and he lives free from his previous faults and failures.
Teen Challenge centers around the world generally utilize two key approaches within their program processes. Let me take a minute to suggest this is what we see as a norm globally.
First is the Pre-program.
In the pre-program, you will find outreach, interventions, and assistance. These pre-program activities can include assessments, crisis management, detox, and/or referral services. In the coffee houses and other outreach programs Teen Challenge offers globally, we see many of these activities being implemented with excellence. Not every program operates or offers all of these, but many programs will be engaged with these types of activities and services.
Second is the core program.
The core program consists of recovery for 3-4 months, training for 5-6 months, and then reintegration for 1-2 months. Most research literature suggests that drug treatment programs with 12-18 month programs have the highest rates of recovery. Literature also suggests that graduates of programs that are 18 months or longer have the highest rates of success. The success rate can be up to 90% after 18 months. We need to pay attention to these statistics and be vigilant as we present a model of care.
After 60 years, we have learned much about what a student needs to live free when they graduate from our program. We should be acutely interested in the aftercare program and process before graduation for greatest accountability and community involvement after graduation. Community, work, skill-training, and faith are all key aspects to aftercare success.
Can we, as leaders, look to one another and learn what is working best globally? Can we share best practices and look through the lens of a world organization that truly cares about each other and about addicts?
The need is overwhelming:
- 270 million addicts worldwide
- 9,562 die every day
- 7 die every minute
Billions of dollars are directed to solving the problem, yet it continues to devastate countries around the world.
- We, the Teen Challenge Family of Affiliates, have the largest footprint of care in the world.
- We have one of the largest trained staff (3,500) to contend with addiction globally (not including thousands of volunteers).
- We have clarity of vision “To Put Hope Within Reach of Every Addict”.
- We offer effective staff training, both in person and online.
- We offer our programs in culturally relevant formats.
- We, generate over 200 million dollars a year to provide care to addicts... Praise God!.
- We are working together to find sustainable solutions for operational funds.
- We have a proven track record of success.
I am so proud to be a part of Teen Challenge and work with of some of the most committed people in the world. I am so excited by the potential that is before us as we look into the future. We are working on some key initiatives that we believe will help each Teen Challenge leader and center.
Our global team prays for each of you on a regular basis. We take the name of every director and center and pray specifically for you, so continue to share your needs, challenges, and praises.
Jerry Nance PhD
Global Teen Challenge