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How is Rising Above different from Teen Challenge?

There are several outward similarities between Rising Above and Teen Challenge in terms of a desire to set people free from the destructive forces of addiction. Both programs are Christian based and involve a residency period where participants are provided life skills in a safe environment intended to help people move towards health with the help of Jesus.

It is difficult to answer in greater detail how Rising Above differs from Teen Challenge since none of us at Rising Above have firsthand experience with Teen Challenge programing. Our information regarding Teen Challenge is limited to what we have read and heard through second-hand antidotal sources. We therefore do not feel qualified to give an accurate or fair comparison between the two organizations.

We can, however, provide greater clarity regarding some of the guiding principles that Rising Above uses to guide how the programing is implemented. In summary, these can be distilled to eleven core assumptions concerning participants and our interactions with them.

  • God has a unique and special purpose for each participant in Rising Above.
  • Participants entering the program recognize the need for significant change in their life            patterns. Though this may not be clearly evident in their behaviour, we will lead and support them to make these changes
  • In order for our participants to become healthy members of society, there are some core elements of recovery that must be addressed. These include but may not be limited to:

                 - Physical and emotional safety and stability

                 - Sustainable income

                 - Healthy life management skills and support networks

                 - Commitment to continued personal and spiritual growth

                 - A sense of personal worth and inner peace not contingent upon behaviour.

  • Addictions are an attempt to manage pain and not the source of a person’s pain. Although addictions can cause a person’s life to unravel and become unmanageable we do not see this as their main issue. Rising Above staff will come along side of the participants and help them address the core issues that have led to addictions and self-destructive behaviour patterns. Participants may come into the program with a goal of sobriety and employment; our goal will be to lead them to deal with the deeper issues. 
  • Emotional development should not be expected to match biological age.  We will need to understand the emotional health of the person and begin to work with them at an emotionally “age-appropriate” level.
  • Our participants are spiritually sensitive and may have rejected God because of some past hurt by the church or feelings of abandonment by God or other life situations that have led them to not believe in Jesus or His existence.  Our role is to come alongside of them and help remove the barriers so they can encounter God and embrace His grace.
  • Our participants will have manipulative tendencies.  Therefore, we will anticipate manipulative attempts as a default behaviour and not as an attempt to undermine our authority.  The recognition of manipulative behaviours will be an opportunity to lead them to more appropriate behaviour models.  Appropriate discipline will be administered when manipulation leads to violation of guidelines.
  • Having to evict somebody from the program does not imply the program failed. At the same time, graduation does not presume that the participant needs no further supports.
  • We will not do for our participants what they can do for themselves.  This helps them grow and retain dignity.
  • The Structures and Policies are intended to protect the staff, participants and the program.   These structures keep us from enabling destructive patterns and avoid a co-dependent relationship staff and participants.
  • We view Rising Above as a community, and our participants as people of worth. We can learn from them as they learn from us.

Our approach focuses on the root(s) of the addiction, which is the unresolved emotional pain.  The addiction is often a response intended to mask or dull the pain. Where there is unresolved pain there are often “lie-based beliefs” that tend to hold people in cycles of defeat. Our approach is more about experiencing God’s truth to overcome the lies.


How is the issue of transgender dealt within terms of a participant’s residency?

At this stage in the program’s development, Rising Above Peterborough does not a have safe option for transgender people seeking residency. This is because our housing model is based on shared rooms. The reason for this current housing model is related primarily to finances and is not an attempt to exclude transgender people. Should there still be a desire to enroll into the program, transgender people can apply as a non-resident participant and still be actively involved in all other aspects. They would be assigned a Rising Above Advocate (case management worker), would partake in inner healing sessions and life-skill classed and would also come under all other guidelines, including random drug tests.


What are the policies around methadone?

Our general policy is for participants to join the program only when they are drug free for a period of 7 days. There are occasions where we could consider someone on suboxone or methadone being admitted into the program. But in these situations, the participants would need to agree to make a plan with their doctor to wean off the medication within a reasonable time.


How does Rising Above deal with the issue of gender and conversion therapy in the course of its treatment in light of recent government legislation in these areas?

People who come into the program that would identify as being on the LGBTQIA2S+ scale, are treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else in the program. We clearly view any sexual activity outside of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman as not following God’s plan. That said, we also realize that many in our North American culture are engaged in heterosexual and homosexual activity that is outside of God’s design for sexual intimacy. We intentionally focus on the root causes/emotional pain that underly and perpetuate the addictive issues that hold people captive instead of alienating people based on their sexual activity.

Our goal is to help people encounter the Lord. He is the one that brings a heart felt realization of truth which causes people to abandon behaviours that hinder them from the wholeness that He offers. Our role is not to judge, but to help provide a safe place where people can begin to explore a relationship with Christ – understanding that true change occurs only as a result of the participants willingness and desire to enter into this relationship.


Why does RA support an "abstinence" approach rather than an approach focused on harm reduction or addiction management?

The goal of Rising Above is to see people set free from addictions. A core belief of Rising Above is that addictive behaviour is often a coping mechanism by an individual to help manage or mask underlying issues causing hurt and cycles of defeat in their personal lives. We recognize that in some cases, moving towards a safer supply of drugs can decrease the risk of accidental overdose and may even be a path forward for some to help better manage their addiction. However, at Rising Above, we believe the best approach for achieving wholeness is to deal with the underlying root issues that led to addiction in the first place. It is our belief, that most management approaches will not achieve a long-term sustainable freedom and may be inadequate to help the participant deal with future issues that trigger the unresolve emotional pain which could lead to a breach of the management options set in place to control the addictive behaviour. The approach taken by Rising Above is intended to deal with the root issues and to not just mask the hurt by substituting one drug for another. Therefore, the goal of Rising Above is to promote abstinence. 

It is also realized that the needs, desires, and comfort level of those struggling with addiction can vary greatly amongst individuals seeking treatment. With this in mind, it is understood that not all may agree with or desire to seek help from Rising Above and therefore individuals need to determine for themselves if this is something they want to pursue. However, for those that do desire to adopt an abstinence model, we feel obligated to provide a safe, drug free, environment for those that have chosen this approach in order to help them in their progression towards greater health and freedom.


How does the Rising Above program fit into the mix of what is already available?

Rising Above Peterborough recognizes and values, the contributions and benefits provided by existing health professionals, whether that is through counselling services, safe injection sites, health specialists or other government resourced programs aimed at helping those struggling with addiction. Our goal is to join in this effort to set people free; not to compete with existing services. Root causes of addiction are varied and often intertwined, making recovery extremely challenging. Because of this, we recognize that no one program can be expected to address all the individual needs encountered within a society.

We believe that a Christian Faith based approach has valuable resources to bring to the mix needed to address this complex issue. We realize that the Rising Above approach may not be wanted by all, nor work for all. Participants ultimately need to decide for themselves if this is an approach that is right for them. Rising Above, however, does bring something new of value to the array of options and we are excited to see this program developed here.

Although Rising Above has adopted a Christian Faith Based approach, it is open to accepting participants from all faith or non-faith backgrounds without the expectation that they accept a Christian faith in order to participate fully. In our program, participants are assigned a case worker which meets with them regularly in order to organize and monitor treatment intended to focus on the whole person, not just the addiction. Participants are provided life-skill and employment related classes to help them grow in skills needed to participate and function better in society. Core to the programing is what we term “Inner Healing” sessions where the participant begin to explore some of the underlying causes for their addiction. We have found that addictive behaviour can often be related to unresolved emotional trauma and that people can become stuck in this pain by accepting and believing harmful miss-truths about their personal worth, potential or future that have arisen from self inflicted misconceptions or the hurtful action or inaction of others in their lives. We believe that healing comes through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who begins to bring truth to misconceptions and hurtful lies that the participant may believe. The Inner Healing sessions are facilitated by a trained Inner Healing facilitator whose purpose is to help the participant process their thoughts that arise and to ensure that they come into a greater understanding and awareness of their unique and individual value and hope for the future; making the move to an addictive free life style much easier. The Rising Above program is delivered in a six month residency period where participants are provided a safe, drug free, supportive environment intended to re-establish a sense of self worth and hope. Although Rising Above shares a common goal with other addiction based programs in the Kawartha’s to set people free, its approach as stated above is different from most other programs and therefore expands the program options available to those seeking help with their addiction.