By REBECCA HAZEN
Adult & Teen Challenge Mid-South, located in Chattanooga, is a non-profit recovery center that provides adults ages 18-50 with a faith-based avenue for overcoming drugs and alcohol-related addiction. Adult & Teen Challenge serves a 50–mile radius, which includes Dade County.
“We have been here for 43 years,” David McNabb, President and CEO of Adult & Teen Challenge said. “We are looking for individuals that say ‘I have tried everything, and I am willing to give God a try.’”
People who come to the Adult & Teen Challenge campus are asked to make a four–month commitment. The program is extendable up to 12 months.
“Our focus is not on the addiction as much as the underlying cause. When people are younger, sometimes they just make bad decisions, but in many cases there has been trauma, or medical issues, like when opioids have been prescribed and then they just take over,” McNabb said. “We are replacing all of the things that caused the addiction with a relationship with Christ.”
McNabb noted that the program is not a 12-step program, and it’s not a medical related program. He just hopes that everyone comes away with a personal relationship with God.
Adult & Teen Challenge is a national non-profit, with more than 200 residential centers within the U.S. and Canada. In Chattanooga, the program has a 65 bed maximum capacity, for 42 males and 23 females.
The campus is comprised of four and a half acres with and seven buildings, two dormitories, and a dining hall.
Each day is structured for those in the program. Four hours every day is devoted to some manner of spiritual exercise, which includes chapel services, personal worship and prayer meetings.
There are also individual studies in a library-type setting. They work through self-pace studies that deal with their specific issues. There are group lecture classes on topics such as anger, forgiveness, temptation, obedience to God and relationships.
“The studies they do on a personal level are geared to their needs. Everyone comes here with different baggage,” McNabb said.
The people who go through the program also have various chores in the afternoon. For instance, they have a lawn crew that takes care of outside maintenance.
“They have free time on weekends, but almost every day their time is scheduled. Most of them have come here with their life completely out of order. Our idea is to add structure to that,” McNabb said.
Someone does not need to be sponsored to join Adult & Teen Challenge. To enter the program, one has to fill out an application online, and provide a negative COVID-19 test. Also, any legal matters that the person may have need to be settled.
There are fees, but there are scholarships available. Because they are a non-profit, they do not accept insurance. Donations are welcomed.
Another way to help is to donate to America’s Thrift Stores, which is located at the Northgate Mall. For every pound of goods donated, Adult & Teen Challenge receives five cents.
“The best way to help the community is to spread the word. For those who have a family member or a neighbor is struggling, and they think there is no one to call, pass the word that there is somebody to call,” McNabb said.
McNabb hopes to strengthen the relationship with the local community.
“A whole lot of folks don’t know who we are and what we offer. We have been kind of associated with just the Christian community, but the general public doesn’t know,” McNabb said.
Addiction is not respective of any social, economic or religious stereotype, and McNabb wants people to understand that addiction can take over someone’s life. McNabb hopes that the stigma attached to addiction, particularly in the faith community, can be overcome.
“Ten years ago, some of us probably could think of someone maybe once or twice removed that had a problem with addiction, and now probably all of us can think of somebody by their first name that is struggling in some way,” McNabb said.
McNabb continued, “Coming from a Christian perspective, having sit behind the desk at a church office, and understanding the limitations I had as a pastor, it is a tremendous asset to the community to know that someone can come here and be instructed and told how to get their life back.”
Anne Long was a Dade County resident when she went through the Adult & Teen Challenge program.
Long, who now lives in Chickamauga, dealt with addiction from pain medication.
“My struggle with addiction wasn’t typical. Growing up, I never tried drugs; I was never into alcohol or anything like that. I got my bachelor’s degree and had two children,” Long said.
Long continued, “Essentially, through the doctors, I was put on pain medication for an extended period of time, almost a year and a half straight. My body was completely dependent on it. I tried to come off of it several times, and it was such a strong pull. I would go through roundabout ways to get it. I altered a prescription.”
Long’s parents heard about Adult & Teen Challenge through their friends, who had a family member who was on the board of directors.
“We were Christians, so my parents felt like that was a good route to go, and the length of the program was appealing,” Long said.
Long was at Adult & Teen Challenge for a full year. She noted that she had prior experience with a 28-day program, and did not have success with that.
She feels that the difference between typical drug rehab programs and Adult & Teen Challenge is that it is Christ centered.
“You’re never out of danger, but at the same time Christ is with you,” Long said. “I think that is the most essential part of program, is that relationship with Christ.”
For more information about Adult & Teen Challenge, visit www.tcmidsouth.org.