North Dakota Teen Challenge is a yearlong residential substance abuse treatment for adults 18 and up located just outside Bismarck in Mandan, North Dakota. Teen Challenge was founded in the 1950’s by a pastor named David Wilkerson, who opened the first facility in New York City. Since then Teen Challenge has grown to include at least one facility in each US State and in 80 countries internationally. Treatment is available to both teens and adults, faith based and individualized, offering group and individual counseling in addition to education and life skills training.
Accommodations and Food
NDTC accommodates up to 60 men and 40 women in a large, brick building in dorm-style living quarters on separate floors. The bedrooms can fit four clients each and share full bathrooms with showers and stalls. The facility provides dressers and places for personal items, but clients have to bring their own bedding and towels. In addition to the bedrooms and bathrooms there is a gym on the bottom floor with weights and machines, a dining room, full kitchen, separate living rooms for the men and women with TVs and Xbox, and a prayer room. During their time in the facility, the men and women have no contact with each other. There is also no smoking or use of tobacco products at all during the program.
Three meals a day are prepared at the facility by staff and rotating client volunteers. Healthy options are available, as well as snacks and some dietary restrictions can be accommodated.
Treatment and Staff
The treatment provided at NDTC has a strong spiritual and Biblical element, which includes participating in church services daily and singing in the choir. The program is broken into four phases that must be fully completed, or graduated, and focuses on rebuilding lives that have been affected by drugs and alcohol, mending relationships, and behavior modification. There are group sessions, volunteering, work-study for local businesses, daily chores around the facilities grounds, and homework assignments like journaling. Twice monthly individual counseling sessions are integrated into the program.
Clients can’t leave the grounds for the first 60 days in the program, and have restrictions on phone calls initially, though as they proceed through treatment, there are opportunities for off campus visitations with family, and major Holidays clients can return home. A typical day would include up to three hours of classes that include Bible study and scripture assignments, and the afternoon is spent volunteering or in a work study program.
The treatment itself is not based on the 12-steps, but rather Christian values and teaching clients to not only be drug and alcohol free, but how to make healthy decisions on a daily basis. During all stages of the treatment the clients work with the counselors to achieve personal goals that are set at the beginning of their programs. All of the Teen Challenges have program directors and many of the staff members are graduates of the program themselves.
There are recreational outings, like fishing and hikes, and house activities, like movie nights and bowling, are a weekly occurrence, and family can visit every Saturday in the afternoon.
North Dakota Teen Challenge is definitely not your run of the mill rehab, but rather a yearlong educational experience. This is they type of facility that typically works best for those who have tried all other options, have spent time in the prison system, or had multiple relapses. In a recent survey conducted by the facility a few years ago, there was a sobriety success rate a year after leaving the program of 70 percent. And though some may be weary of how strong the faith-based element is and opt for more traditional methods for treatment, that number is hard to deny.
North Dakota Teen Challenge
1406 2nd St NW
Mandan, ND 58554
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