By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
Good Hope resident Jeremy Easter said he believes in the Teen Challenge program because it helped him overcome his 12-year drug addiction.
The 35-year-old Teen Challenge representative now works for the organization to help others beat their addictions and also find Jesus Christ, he said.
“I was an addict myself and my brother was as well. He went through the program and got saved and also turned his life around,” Easter said. “I used drugs for 12 years and it started with alcohol, it moved to smoking weed, then using pills. Then I started using meth, even shooting it. I haven’t touched a drug since 2006. It’s because of Jesus through this radical program.”
Easter said he volunteered with Teen Challenge for two years before he became a staff member in 2010, and emphasized it’s not a typical rehab facility.
“Teen Challenge isn’t a rehabilitation center, it’s a 12-month Christian discipleship program,” Easter said. “It’s real and it’s intense. Because the program is very radical about things, you have a daily schedule that you stick to from morning until night. You honestly get away from your old life for a year and it becomes all about Jesus. I have students that hate it when they first get here. Family members will push them away and as time passes, they start to see their loved ones becoming their old selves again before the drugs took over. Relationships are then reconciled. It’s a great thing that this program does.”
Easter said graduates of the program have a 70-86 percent success rate of remaining drug free.
“While you’re in the centers, you’re only allowed to talk to immediate family members during the year-long program,” Easter said. “There are centers in Selma, Bay Minette, and Lincoln. The women stay the entire 12 months in Hayden, but the men start at Selma or Bay Minette for four months and then finish at Lincoln for the remaining eight months. Right now, we’re looking for property for this area and meeting with local people to hopefully broaden the outreach.”
The cost for the program is a $700 insurance fee, which Easter said is often funded by donors or churches.
“People see what the program is doing and they believe in it,” Easter said. “The fees are often funded and a lot of churches support it. The program is funded kind-of like a church.”
For more information about Teen Challenge or to book speaking engagements contact Jeremy Easter at 205-447-1978.
Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.