Teen Challenge effective treatment!
by Ned Wicker
It’s an amazing American success story. David Wilkerson established Teen Challenge in 1958, and since that time the program has expanded outside the borders of the United States and become one of the most effective treatment options for teenagers struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.
The Teen Challenge story is chronicled in the book “The Cross and the Switchblade,” written by Wilkerson with John and Elizabeth Sherrill in 1963. The book became a film in 1970, starring Pat Boone as Wilkerson. Secular critics panned it, but according to World Film Crusade, the film has been seen by more than 50 million, in over 30 languages, in 150 countries.
Five years ago, an estimated 18.6 million teens, 12 and older, were in trouble and needed help with their alcohol problem. Likewise, 7.7 million were using illegal drugs and needed help. Teen Challenge reaches out to these kids and young adults, in both a residential and non-residential setting, giving them hope and a solution to breaking the addiction cycle.
Most of the people in residential centers are 18 and older, which is understandable considering addiction is a process of going from a healthy life to a life in ruin. Their reputation for successful outcomes is reflected in the accommodation they have received from several United States Presidents, law enforcement, judges and elected officials.
In a world that is growing more secular each day, Teen Challenge offers a Christian approach to addiction. For those entering the Teen Challenge program, life has been rough. Family relationships are shattered, and they have likely had run-ins with the law by running with the people who perpetuate the drug and alcohol problem.
Teen Challenge is the opposite of what they have experienced, to the world a radically different approach. The program is based on Christian discipleship and is well organized and developed. The organization also runs prevention programs in the community, schools and churches.
Turning their lives around
Teen Challenge is designed to help teens turn their lives around, rebuild relationships and, most of all, break the cycle of addiction and not relapse. A byproduct of this life rebuilding process is a reduction in drug and alcohol crime in the community. The reduction in crime has a positive economic impact on the community.
Many alcohol treatment centers offer short-term programs, but Teen Challenge is unique. Many of the centers offer a one year program, and during that time, the residents do not hold down jobs. Recovery is their job. The Christian teaching of the program helps residents understand that their lives can be transformed; that there is hope.
There are strict rules and discipline in the centers, and each day’s schedule includes Bible teaching, chapel and work assignments on or near the grounds.
The program is effective because it isn’t just about breaking the addiction cycle. The long duration of the program, a year to 18 months, along with the Christian teaching of the program, are keys to helping people through. Teen Challenge calls it the “Jesus factor,” the formation of a close, personal relationship with God.
All Kids are Welcome
Non-Christians may come into the program, but the program is based on Christian teaching from the Bible. People voluntarily choose to participate or not participate. They may or may not experience a conversion to Christianity during their stay.
For 50 years, Teen Challenge has been making a difference in a constructive, positive way. People’s lives have been rebuilt, families have been restored and communities have been given the benefit of strong citizens. Teen Challenge shines God’s light. We encourage you to go to their web site, perhaps locate a center in your area and make a call.
Web Site: http://teenchallengeusa.comInformation E-mail: [email protected] National Directory: http://teenchallengeusa.com/locations.php Phone: (417) 862-6969.