Man finds new life through the Rochester Adult and Teen Challeng - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Man finds new life through the Rochester Adult and Teen Challenge Program

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Christian, 23, is a client at MN Adult & Teen Challenge Christian, 23, is a client at MN Adult & Teen Challenge
Three crosses on a hill near Rochester Assembly Church Three crosses on a hill near Rochester Assembly Church
Some men from the Rochester Adult & Teen Challenge bowing their heads in prayer after a Thursday night softball game Some men from the Rochester Adult & Teen Challenge bowing their heads in prayer after a Thursday night softball game
Tom Truszinski is the Center Director for the Rochester Teen Challenge Tom Truszinski is the Center Director for the Rochester Teen Challenge
Christian speaking with KTTC's Shannon Rousseau Christian speaking with KTTC's Shannon Rousseau
ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

More than 21 million Americans over the age of 12 battled drug addictions in 2014. That same year the US population was 317 million -- meaning more than seven percent of US citizens battled with some kind of addiction. 

The Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge program helps people gain freedom from chemical addictions and other problems, according to their website. They do so by addressing people's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

The men's program has been in Rochester for more than three years. During that time nearly 1,000 men have completed either the long-term and short-term treatment programs. 

The long-term treatment plan lasts 13 months, while the short-term treatment plan varies between seven and 90 days.

For those wondering, the men don't have to belong to the Christian faith to join the program, but men coming into the program understand that it's faith based.

One student about to graduate from the 13-month program is Christian, a 23-year-old from Austin, Minnesota. "I came here pretty hopeless."

Christian entered the program nine months ago. Prior to that time he'd been in jail three times and was arrested for shoplifting and possessing meth.

"I told myself if I wanted to keep using I was going to execute my sentence and do about four months, get out, and go use. I knew I couldn't do that. I knew there was more to life than that."

Nine months ago Christian said he kind of believed in something, but didn't know what. But nearly a year later, he has a different answer. "Faith is the most important thing to me right now in my life."

Before Christian committed to the Adult and Teen Challenge program, he was homeless. "I was going on my third time being homeless. I was evicted while in jail and people - who I thought were my friends - stole everything, and I was just coming off an overdose that nearly took my life." He'd also cut off communication with his mother for eight months. 

Christian never thought he would do meth. He picked up weed two years before he did meth, and always told himself that he was the guy who would never do drugs.

Deep down he knew there was more to life, so he decided to come to the Teen Challenge program. In fact, he claimed he tried to hard to get into the facility.

"The first time I met Christian it was very, let's just say erratic. This gentlemen was very high on meth," said Tom Truszinski, the Rochester Teen Challenge Director. 

"Tom talked to me in the parking lot for 30 minutes and that's what really made me want to come here, because I saw how happy he was. He listened to me and that's all I needed, just someone to listen to me. I know he was praying the whole time, and two weeks later I got in here. It's been a miracle," said Christian.

Tom has been the director at the Rochester Adult and Teen Challenge since it first opened in January 2014. "I really believe that God brought me here for a specific purpose," he said.

He compared the facility to a hospital and a church, because people are getting well while finding their true purpose and meaning.

One Bible verse he instills in the men is 2 Corinthians 5:17, which says, "If anyone is in Christ there's a new creation. The old is gone and the new has come."

Despite the 1,000 men who've successfully completed the program, Tom admitted that the program isn't for everyone. "We've had eight gentlemen that were in our program at one point who are now deceased." He added that men come into the program because they either want to avoid jail time or they give in to a loved one asking them to sign up. "But the true success stories are when they come in here and surrender -- when they say 'my way hasn't been working. I need to try it a different way; something needs to change."

Tom knows all too well the addictions that cling onto the men. After all, Tom was once an alcohol and drug addict himself for 18 years. "I started using when I was 13 years old. It all culminated on May 18, 1995. I drove my motorcycle full speed into the back of a truck, broke my hip, and almost died that night -- I cut off my right foot. It took me laying on the pavement with no ability to get up and nowhere but up to look that I was able to change my life.'

Years after his near-fatal accident, Tom has a purpose driven life. "I feel like I'm just sharing with people what has changed me, and that is my faith in Jesus Christ."

He said no matter how far some has fallen, no matter what they've done, no matter what kind of criminal past they have -- they can change.

Click here for FAQ's about MN Adult & Teen Challenge.

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