Trees of Hope: Teen Challenge combating addiction during pandemic

Ryan Juntti
Updated: December 15, 2020 01:41 PM
Created: December 15, 2020 05:00 AM

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, drug and alcohol use is on the rise, and Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge is working as hard as ever to help those impacted.

In a year when social interaction has gone down, drug and alcohol use has gone up.

"There's been a 20 percent increase in overdoses, in store and alcohol sales are up 50 percent, and online alcohol sales are up 250 percent or more," said Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge Center Director of the Northland Campus in Duluth, Brandon Torgerson.

Torgerson says the pandemic is fueling the spikes in numbers.

"The effects of COVID-19 are devastating to people struggling with substance use disorders and mental health disorders. Isolation is having a deadly impact, and I would say the need truly has never been greater," Torgerson said.

But that's where Teen Challenge comes into play. Men who enter the program will soon have a new home, as Teen Challenge is currently expanding their campus to the next door Chatham building. It will mean an increase of eight beds, and the hope is eventually an addition of 20 total. The men will live in studio, efficiency, one, and two bedroom units.

"We're so excited to add beds to our facility. To not just add beds, but have a overall better experience. We're going to have more bathrooms, more living rooms, less roommates, better design and layout," said Torgerson.

The hope is to have construction complete by March of 2021 when the men would then move in.

At that point, phase two of the project will begin to add rec rooms and a chapel in the existing building. 

"I feel like when the expansion project, when the apartment is ready, move-in ready, and all our guys move over there, we're going to have all of our staff under one roof. The flow is going to be better. It's going to just work better for what we're trying to do," said Torgerson.

Helping provide a home and a place for the men to get the help they need so that no matter what the world looks like, they will thrive.


Ryan Juntti

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