Ex-addicts: God got me off drugs
Adelaide Hills rehab centre takes an unusual approach to recovery
In a secluded stretch of the Adelaide Hills at an isolated rehabilitation centre, men work hard to beat drug and alcohol addictions – with the help of God, the Bible and steady support staff.
Teen Challenge South Australia runs its 12-month Living Free programme at an expansive, dilapidated old mansion that resembles a plantation manor crossed with a high-school gymnasium.
At this distinct location, the Teen Challenge team has been seeking to serve any addict who is older than 16 years old, since 1989. Participants in Living Free live full-time at the Adelaide Hills property, sharing in communal activities from cooking and cleaning, to Bible studies and classroom lessons.
“I came here because my drug habit was out of control.” – Daniel Hamdorf
The women’s programme is in recess and there are more men in their 20s-40s, than there are teens. All of these men are recovering addicts, including Daniel Hamdorf.
“I came here nearly ten months ago. I came here because my drug habit was out of control. My relationship with God was non-existent and I was really to the point of suicide,” Daniel candidly tells Eternity.
At the point of preparing to hang himself in his backyard, Daniel says he heard a “little small voice in my head” telling him to go to a rehabilitation service.
Daniel searched online and found Teen Challenge SA, and he was attracted to the Christian basis of its Living Free Programme. Having started a relationship with God when he was in prison for theft, Daniel says that relationship had plummeted as his drug habit took off again.
“It really is life changing and live saving.” – Daniel Hamdorf
From such personal depths, Daniel credits Teen Challenge and its emphasis upon relying upon God and Jesus for getting him off drugs and cigarettes, helping him to think more clearly and be healthier. He is looking to go into some sort of Christian ministry role when he leaves his Adelaide Hills “home” in the coming six months.
“I really want to live my life for the Lord and what he wants me to do,” explains Daniel. “The change he has made in my life; how can you not want to share that with everyone? It’s just amazing. It really is life changing and live saving. It’s changed my heart and really given me a heart for people. Helping me with the way I think and see myself, which has been excellent.”
Vicki Adcock is Programme Director at Teen Challenge’s Adelaide Hills centre. With her small team of counsellors and support workers, Vicki strives to help men defeat their addictions by sticking faithfully to Christian ethical and moral principles, derived from the Bible.
The Living Free programme operates in several stages, with increased levels of expectation and responsibility.
“Some of them think they are coming into a resort-style accommodation,” says Vicki. “But they are kept busy; they do teaching on Monday and Tuesday. They have to do homework; they have counselling once per week. There’s a work programme; this place is certainly in need of a lot of work.”
“They can go to [God] every time they have an issue.” – Vicki Adcock
Everyday skills such as cooking, cleaning and personal hygiene are taught alongside Bible-based studies about how knowing God and Jesus can lead to better knowing yourself – and how to stay clean.
“Their studies are all on how to become a Christian but it’s also about who God is and his character,” says Vicki, without any hesitation or nervousness about anchoring a rehabilitation curriculum in the Bible and its wisdom.
“A study, like Growing Through Failure, it’s all about growing through failure with God, not without him.
“We do teach a little bit about relapsing but it’s more about relapsing with God. Who to go to when we get the urge to drink [for example].”
“No-one loves them as much as God loves them.” – Vicki Adcock
Why does Vicki and her team believe the Bible and God are the best help for recovering addicts? Admitting it’s not easy for everyone to accept who God is and what Jesus has done, Vicki points to the radical difference she has seen faith make in the lives of addicts.
“When we teach them that God loves them and he cares for them and he’s the only one who can lead them down that right path, and they accept him as their saviour, they can go to him every time they have an issue.”
“I think the biggest part of that is the love. No-one loves them as much as God loves them. No-one would die for them like Jesus died for them.
“When they get to understand how much he did it and who they are in Jesus, that’s when they can walk out there in their recovery.”