A Fresh New Start

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It all started for Stephanie at the age of ten when her parents got divorced and her picture-perfect family was gone in a moment’s notice. She felt her identity slipping away as she left the home she grew up in to be with her mom, leaving her dad and two older siblings behind. Things turned for the worse for Stephanie when her mother got into an abusive relationship. The man’s cousin, who was staying at their house, sexually abused Stephanie for four years until she decided to leave.

Everything that happened was all too much for a young girl like her to carry. She felt as though she had been stripped off of everything that she held dear to her heart…her family…her home…her purity. She had nothing left but pain, confusion and shame. With everything that she’s been through, it was easy for her to find comfort in alcohol and drugs.

At first it felt good. Her addiction made her feel as though she was in control and it made her forget the bad things. When she was drunk and high, she didn’t remember the pain of losing her family. She didn’t remember the shame that she carried from being used and abused. All throughout Stephanie’s teenage years and into adulthood, she hid her pain behind hard liquor, cocaine and meth.

What started out as partying in the weekends began to take over every area of Stephanie’s life. Through the course of her addiction, she lost her home, her job and custody of her firstborn son. She has become so miserable. Nothing about alcohol and drugs was enjoyable anymore and no matter how much she tried to stay clean and sober, she just could not stop drinking and using.

After giving birth to her second child, a daughter, she thought she could change for the baby. She was wrong. “I kept getting drunk and getting high. I couldn’t stop. I just looked at her and I knew my life was headed nowhere. I was physically and mentally unable to be a good mom to her. I needed help. I wanted something better for her.”

It was then that Stephanie decided to come to Teen Challenge knowing only God could help her. When Stephanie first walked through the doors of Teen Challenge, she was very scared. She had been drinking so heavily and her body had become physically dependent on alcohol. She knew she was going to have to go through the detox process. “The moment I came in the program, God healed my body. I didn’t go through any physical pain, any shakes or any withdrawals. With the amount of alcohol I was drinking, it couldn’t have been possible.”

Stephanie gave her life to God and she’s learning how to overcome alcoholism and drug addiction and how to love herself. “I feel like I’ve been given an opportunity to make a fresh start and find out who I really am so I can be the person I’ve always wanted to be for my family, for my children, for myself. Today, I have integrity. I have the ability to be in a healthy relationship with the people around me. This has been the most productive year of my life. I’m functioning. I feel like I’m accomplishing things step by step. For the first time in a long time, I can say that I am proud of myself and where I am today.”

Stephanie is just a few weeks away from completing the program. In the past year that she’s been in Teen Challenge, God has restored her sobriety and sanity and He has given her hope for the future.


Kenny’s Story


When Kenny tried his first taste of alcohol at twelve years old, he never could have imagined how anyone, let alone himself, could actually enjoy drinking. Little did he know that such a substance would later control his life.

Though his parents divorced when he was four, life was still okay. His father showered him with gifts on the weekends, and his mother remarried for the first time. His new father was an alcoholic, however, and alcohol use was prevalent at home. At age fourteen, alcohol started tasting good- the beginning of a long-term abusive relationship.

It escalated from mere social drinking to an uncontrollable addiction, affecting Kenny every minute of every day.  Finding new excuses to drink was so simple – he had lost his car, house, boat, and girlfriend, as well as racking up immense medical bills for health problems from drinking. “There is no way tomorrow could be worse than today,” he kept thinking, but sure enough, the addiction persisted.  It reached the point where his daughter had to move in full time with her mom, instead of the 50/50 custody they had before. Drinking wasn’t simply a habit anymore, but a slow, intentional journey towards death.

From the seizures and hallucinations to DUIs and multiple arrests, the fact that Kenny had a problem was clear as day. After receiving a bible from his mother, he began reaffirming his faith towards God and going to church. It was then that he heard about Teen Challenge.

At first, he planned to stay three months. 90 months of sobriety would have seemed impossible in the depths of his addiction, but he persisted with the help of Teen Challenge. Three months turned into six, and then a year.

Now, Kenny has finished a full year of the program and is well on his way to completing a six-month internship. His sanity is restored and his desire for alcohol is gone, leaving a 14-month sobriety that he never could have imagined in the lowest points of his alcoholism.  His relationship with his daughter improved, and she is proud of him anew and thankful for the guidance that God has given him. He is more grateful than he could ever imagine to God, who pulled him out of his horrible addiction and pushed him towards Teen Challenge. He feels that God no longer wants him to look down any more, and He’s proud of him and wants him to be proud of himself too.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction or a life-controlling problem please feel free to give us a call at: 888-339-3193. You can also visit our website for more information: http://www.teenchallenge.net

Unmasking Addiction – Christy’s story of finding herself


Perfection is an illusion. It is a mirage. Many of us try to live up to this false idea of perfection as though it is reality. Within the church, perfection is sometimes confused with righteousness and holiness and acting less than perfect is often viewed as unrighteous and unholy. It is this ideal that compels people to mask their vulnerability and hide their true selves.

Christy understood this all too well. She lived most of her life reaching for perfection in vain, all the while hiding behind a facade. Her dad was a pastor and as a pastor’s child she was expected to act her best behavior. “In my family, it wasn’t kosher to talk about issues because we were expected to be good Christians who were “above reproach”. Because of this, I learned to wear a mask and hide myself.” Christy shares.

When you live your life trying to please people to the point of abandoning who you are as a person, you start believing that who you are is not good enough. For Christy, it was the beginning of identifying herself with failure and shame. What people saw as a well-composed woman was actually a withering soul on the inside whose world was falling apart. Despite the smile that Christy put on for everyone, she battled depression, rejection and feeling alone. In the midst of trying to keep up with all the pretenses, Christy found companionship and comfort in alcohol. “When I was drunk, I didn’t have to worry about how I felt…my anxiety, my pain, my insecurities. Drinking a little wasn’t enough to numb my feelings. I needed to be drunk.”

As alcoholism consumed Christy, the perfect facade she has built around her began crumbling down. She landed in jail and collected charges for DUI. She could not pretend anymore. She was confronted with the reality that she made a mess out of her life. She needed help.

Coming to Teen Challenge has been one of the hardest things she has ever done. “I have been forced to face myself and my emotions. I have learned to walk through my pain and work through the issues that made me want to numb my feelings in the first place…I don’t have to live my life trying to please people anymore. I find my worth in God’s eyes because I know that He loves me with an unchanging, unfailing love.”

Brennan Manning, author of the Ragamuffin Gospel, said, “God loves you unconditionally just as you are…not as you should be because nobody is as he should be.”

Today, Christy is realizing that she is loved just for who she is. She is getting to know herself and she’s learning to embrace her strengths and weaknesses. She is beginning to accept the little quirks and imperfections that make up who she is. She is discovering that she is beautiful and worth loving. She no longer feels the need to hide behind a mask. “For the first time in my life I feel like I could be myself and it’s liberating!”

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction or a life-controlling problem please feel free to give us a call at: 888-339-3193. You can also visit our website for more information: http://www.teenchallenge.net

Breaking The Cycle


In families where alcohol or other drugs are being abused, life is characterized by chaos and unpredictability. Structure and rules are either nonexistent or inconsistent. Parental substance abuse interrupts a child’s normal development, which places these youngsters at higher risk for emotional, physical and mental health problems. Because parents who abuse alcohol or other drugs are more likely to be involved with domestic violence, divorce, unemployment, mental illness and legal problems, their ability to parent effectively is severely compromised. Children of alcoholics and other substance abusers suffer from depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicide attempts more likely than their peers. They are also more likely to become addicted to alcohol or other drugs themselves.

Many alcoholics and drug addicts that come to Teen Challenge have parents who were also alcoholics and drug addicts. Some of them got drunk with their parents. Some of them were taught by their parents how to take their first hit on drugs. Some of them simply watched their parents’ abusive and destructive lifestyles and followed their footsteps.

Edward was one of those drug addicts who grew up in such a dysfunctional home. “I grew up without a father. I was a product of prostitution so I never really knew who my father was. Throughout my childhood, I watched my mom smoke crack and get abused and mistreated by the men she was with. She was always with men who were selling drugs, pimping women and committing fraud.” Edward shares with us.

Because Edward never really had a good role model, he went down the only path he knew – the path of destruction and abuse that has been modeled for him his entire childhood. By the age of 13, he was in juvenile detention for stealing a car and getting busted with a pistol. By the age of 20, he was already a full blown meth addict. This cycle went on and on for years. It wasn’t until he thought he lost his wife and daughter that he realized he’s had enough of looking to chemicals to hide the pain he’s been running away from.

Today, Edward is residing at the Teen Challenge Asbury Family Center along with his wife, Jessica, and their daughter, Alexis. He has come to realize that he could break the destructive and abusive cycle he’s known all his life and give his family the life that he never had – a life with peace and stability. He is now dealing with the core issues that have contributed to his past behaviors with the help of his counselor.

It is our hope that more people would come to realize that they do not have to remain victims of their circumstance and that they, too, could break the cycle of addiction.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction or a life-controlling problem please feel free to give us a call at: 888-339-3193. You can also visit our website for more information: http://www.teenchallenge.net



Proposition 47 – A Step in the Right Direction


It’s been about 5 months since the voters of California passed Proposition 47. Prop 47 is a law that changes some low level crimes like drug possession and petty-theft related offenses of under $950 from potential felonies to misdemeanors. It also gives felons and current inmates a chance to get re-sentenced should they be eligible.  It aims to reduce prison and jail population as well as save the state millions of dollars in prison costs.

“Law enforcement has been on an incarceration binge for 30 years, and it hasn’t worked,” San Francisco district attorney George Gascón, who cosponsored the initiative, told the New York Times. Gascón added that for the large numbers of nonviolent offenders with mental health or substance abuse problems, “Incarceration doesn’t fix the problem.”

The state is going to take the savings from the prison system and put it into drug and mental health treatment programs, as well as in victim services and support for K-12 public school students.

This is great news for people who are sincerely trying to turn their lives around but have had a hard time starting their lives over because of their felony records. For many years, felons have been discriminated against in the work field. It does not matter if they have paid the consequences of their actions or if they have changed and have stayed out of trouble. It does not even matter how hard they work. Their felony records haunt them and keep doors of opportunities closed for them.

While Prop 47 brings about many benefits, more so in the coming years, new concerns are also rising since it came into effect late last year. With Prop 47 passing, in just the last few months, many jurisdictions are seeing a spike in property crimes (up as much as 30 percent) and reduced bookings (20-30 percent less). Local officials have reported that fewer people are now going to drug rehabilitation because we have lost the method of mandating rehabilitation with a felony drug charge.

Prop 47 seems to have failed to put into consideration holding criminals truly accountable. While imprisonment does not fix the problem, releasing drug addicts and criminals to the streets does not either. Rehabilitation has to be mandated.

We believe that it is a step in the right direction for the state to recognize that incarceration does not fix the problem, especially not the war on drugs. We hope that in the coming years we, as a community, will take it a step further and get drug addicts and criminals the help that they need – not to release them to the streets but place them in programs where they will learn to become healthy citizens of the community.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction or a life-controlling problem please feel free to give us a call at: 888-339-3193. You can also visit our website for more information:





Hope Within Reach



These are just a few of the many labels society has embedded in our minds about drug addicts. Drug addiction causes a person to start making a few unhealthy choices here and there, like missing work and neglecting responsibilities, but often spirals into a life of crime. Because of this, we often hear people say that drug addicts belong in prison or that they are better off dead. While the stigma of drug addiction is not necessarily unfounded, there is so much more behind a drug addict’s choices than just choosing a life of crime.

Throughout the many years we have worked with recovering addicts and listened to their stories, the common factor behind each story seems to be FEAR.

Their stories are all different. They’ve all traveled different paths. They all have different reasons why they started using drugs. Regardless of what was behind each story or which path they were on…fear seems to have been a huge motivating factor behind their drug use.

Fear of facing reality.

Fear of feeling emotions.

Fear of not being accepted.

Fear of never being good enough.

Fear of failing.


While some people cope with fear in a less destructive way than others, many drug addicts do not possess healthy coping skills to begin with. The gnawing fear inside of them becomes so great that there is nothing left to do but succumb to the darkness that is called addiction. Glenn Walters, in his book Drugs and Crime in Lifestyle Perspective, argues that the primary motivating factor behind the development of a drug and criminal lifestyle was existential fear of uncertainty and a failure by individuals to cope with and adapt to change.


If fear is the motivating factor behind many, if not all, cases of drug use, could it be that the war on drugs or prison is not the answer to the drug epidemic we are facing? Could it be that fear-based law and punishment does not transform a drug-addicted criminal into a better person? Could it be that hope, being fear’s antithesis, is what we need to overcome this epidemic that has plagued our society for years?


Fear cultivates fear but hope is the force that moves a person beyond fear. Hope is the drive that denies oneself from being paralyzed in fear. Hope is encouragement where there is discouragement. Hope affirms in the midst of disappointment. Hope is the one thing that holds a person back from succumbing to complete darkness.

Dionna, a graduate of Teen Challenge, says, “For many years in my addiction, I did not know what was wrong with me. I was miserable and I knew in my heart that something was missing. I tried everything to be happy but nothing worked. Now that I have hope in my life, I finally figured out what was missing all these years. HOPE. How simple is that?”

Putting hope within reach is what we envision to do at Teen Challenge for those struggling with addiction.

                …hope that there is a way out of addiction.

                …hope that there could be a better tomorrow.

                …hope that one is never too far gone.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction or a life-controlling problem please feel free to give us a call at: 888-339-3193. You can also visit our website for more information: http://www.teenchallenge.net                                                                                                               


Dionna and her beautiful family.



Coomber, R; McElrath, K; Measham F; Moore, K. (2013). Key Concepts in Drugs and Society. SAGE Publications, Inc.

Walters, G. (1994). Drugs and Crime In Lifestyle Perspective. SAGE Publications, Inc.

New Restrictions On Painkillers

The United States Government has recently instituted harsher restrictions on some of the most common prescription narcotic painkillers. These restrictions seem to be part of a large effort to deter prescription drug abuse. On Thursday, August 21, 2014, The Unites States’ Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) decided that hydrocodone combination drugs would be reclassified. This decision will be in action sometime in October 2014. Hydrocodone combination drugs includes both of the widely used Vicodin and Lortab. The new restrictions will classify them as equivalent to painkillers such as codeine, Oxycontin, and Percocet. One of the big new changes that the regulations present will be that medications in this class will be given out in shorter supply, requiring patients to refill prescriptions every three months as opposed to the current six month supply.

CBS news has covered the new development in a related news article:
DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart is quoted by stating “Almost seven million Americans abuse controlled-substance prescription medications, including opioid painkillers, resulting in more deaths from prescription drug overdoses than auto accidents… Today’s action recognizes that these products are some of the most addictive and potentially dangerous prescription medications available.”
They go on to state that:
Overall, some 22 million Americans have misused prescription painkillers of one kind or another since 2002, according to a report released by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The agency noted that prescription painkillers now rank only behind marijuana as a drug of abuse in the United States.

Also, a recent article on The Fix blog states that:
“A report released this May by the National Institute of Drug Abuse confirmed that more than 100 people in the U.S. die each day from prescription drug overdoses, making them more deadly than car accidents, guns, and suicides. With more than five million Americans abusing painkillers each year, the U.S. is responsible for 75% of global drug use.”

There are passionate opinions on both sides of the new regulations. Though supporters of the tougher restrictions applaud the effort to minimize deaths associated with prescription drug abuse, those who oppose the new regulations want to make sure the painkillers can be used appropriately by people wanting to ease pain. People on both sides seem to understand that opioid drugs are too easily available, and prescription drugs are one of many areas where access is obtained.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction or a life-controlling problem please feel free to give us a call at: 888-339-3193. You can also visit our website for more information at http://www.teenchallenge.net


E-Cigarettes: Harmful And Aid In Addiction

smoke in the dark

Cancer, heart disease, and asthma are among the effects of e-cigarettes. “Vaping”, or using an electronic device to vaporize a nicotine-instilled propylene glycol liquid in order to be inhaled, is widely marketed as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes.

A recent blog post on thefix.com addresses the new popularity of e-cigarettes. In their post, they cite some new studies which show alarming results and suggest that e-cigarettes are not only harmful, but aid in the addiction of traditional cigarettes.

Dr. Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, and his research team examined emerging data on what e-cigarette smokers are inhaling. The researchers found that e-cigarettes produce greater risk than scientists had thought, delivering high levels of nano particles which can trigger inflammation and have been linked to asthma, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

A study published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology showed that e-cigarette performance was virtually identical to that of regular cigarettes, in terms of exhaled nitric oxide rates. The presence of chemicals such as acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, toluene, and heavy metals like cadmium, nickel, and lead in both first and second-hand vapor was found in multiple studies, as well.

Solvents, which are used to dissolve the nicotine and flavorings in e-cigarette vapor, are potent lung irritants and upon heating can be converted to carcinogenic compounds known as carbonyls. A recent meta-study by Dr. Priscilla Callahan-Lyon of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products found that most e-cigarette vapor contained at least trace amounts of the solvents.

Not only is the evidence mounting against the health and safety of e-cigarettes themselves, but for many people, the devices are not actually conducive to smoke cessation either.”

Many more articles have been pointing out that e-cigarette companies seem to be targeting youth. With flavors like “Cotton Candy”, “Gummy Bear”, “Thin Mint”, and “Chocolate Cake”, it’s hard to build a case that youth aren’t the target. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released information that shows that in 2012, e-cigarettes doubled in popularity among middle and high school aged students compared to the previous year and 1 in 5 middle school students have used e-cigarettes without ever trying a traditional cigarette.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction or a life-controlling problem please feel free to give us a call at: 888-339-3193. You can also visit our website for more information at http://www.teenchallenge.net




Effects Of Heroin Infographic

Between 2007 and 2011, heroin use increased by 75 percent in America. Heroin has many detrimental effects including physiological damage to the brain, lungs, liver and heart as well as other negative effects on one’s life such as destroyed interpersonal relationships and job loss or unemployment. This infographic from addictionblog.org does a good job of clearly illustrating these effects and more. Continue reading

Omid’s Story

Omid's Story Before

I was born in Iran, in the Middle East. My parents moved to Germany when I was eight so I grew up in Germany. My parents did the best they could for my sister and me. They are good parents and I love them. There was a lot of co-dependence but l believe they did the best they could. The first time I experimented with drugs I was 16; I smoked pot and I hated it. I drank alcohol once a month if there was a party. When I was 18, I tried Opium and that was my downfall. Since then I’ve Continue reading