From OxyContin to Freedom


Ben photo

Not every organization schedules time for a new employee to hear incredible testimonies from men and women turning from addictions to freedom. But Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge is different. My name is Mark and December 3rd was my first day as the Communications Coordinator here at MnTC.

The morning was filled with orientation and meetings, but in the afternoon I had the privilege of sitting down with six men who are going through the program to hear stories of how God led them to MnTC. I met one 19 year old man named Ben. As he thought back to his childhood he simply said, “Life was good.” His parents had good jobs and his family was supportive. But still at the age of 13, he started to take his dad’s alcohol and his sister’s cigarettes. He began to smoke pot by 16, but the high only led to fear and anxiety. So he began selling the drugs he received from his cousin.

One day his cousin gave him OxyContin, which is an opioid (narcotic) pain reliever. Taken exactly as prescribed, OxyContin can be used to manage pain effectively. In short, it changes the way the user’s brain and nervous system respond to pain. It is available by prescription only and is used to treat severe pain. But mistreated one may experience vomiting, headache, loss of appetite, and weakness, however one of the most serious risks is slowed breathing which can lead to death. Long-term use also leads to physical dependence and addiction — the body adapts to the presence of the drug, and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped. This is what happened to Ben.
After driving home one night he was found by his mom passed out at the wheel. She thought he was dead. This led him to the first of twelve treatment center programs. After each one, he immediately went back to using. To support his addiction, Ben began to steal from friends and family. But $50,000 later he realized he could not free himself from this drug’s tight grip on him.

His life was spinning out of control until his family learned about Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge. Ben has never felt confident in overcoming his addiction, but now at 19 years old and 6 months into the long-term program here at MnTC, he is beginning to see the light. “I’m in for the long haul,” Ben whispered at the end of the interview, “Mark, I’ve had too much pain already in life. I can’t go back.” It didn’t take long for me to realize the hope and healing found in each story here. I count it a blessing to serve such a transformative mission here at MnTC.