While many nonprofits across the U.S. scaled back their services to allow for distancing and/or isolation, Adult & Teen Challenge MidSouth (ATCM), a residential recovery program for men and women 18-50, continued services throughout 2020. The result is a number of these residents recently completed one or more tier of the program, opening up space for 33 men and 15 women in need of residential recovery counseling.

Headquartered in Chattanooga, ATCM's service area includes Walker and Catoosa counties. Since its beginning by founder David Wilkerson on the streets of New York in 1958, the mission of ATC is to provide freedom from addiction and other life-controlling issues through Christ-centered solutions.

“This is a remarkable opportunity given the impact of the pandemic on people who are suffering and self-medicating,” said Dr. David McNabb, president of ATCM.

McNabb mentioned two areas of impact – people in isolation and those who ran under the radar while courts were not in session.

“As we begin to turn the corner on the pandemic, we’re reminded that long before the pandemic, we were battling an opioid crisis,” McNabb said. “The crisis continues, but for the most part, it’s been in isolation.”

He said researchers believe the fallout from the stress of the losses, including loss of loved ones, jobs, opportunities and social interaction, will mean more people struggling from addiction to alcohol and/or drugs.

“Rather than spend the resources on jail time, the obvious answer is a residential recovery program,” said Greg Martin, District 3 commissioner and chairman of the ATCM Board of Directors. He pointed to the outcomes from a 2019 study that shows 78% of graduates, one and three years out, are sober and substance-free.

Martin explained the cost ratio of the judicial system over residential recovery is roughly seven-to-one.

“It’s a better use of our money with greater outcomes,” he said.

ATCM is approved by the Tennessee Department of Corrections for housing individuals from the judicial system in order to streamline the process, according to McNabb.

“The process is pretty easy,” said McNabb. “We have a brief application and require a negative COVID test,” he said, adding that people are generally in the program within the day if seen early enough.

Agencies, public defenders and families wishing to refer to ATCM may call the main line, 423-756-5558.

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