When Adam Pederson speaks to audiences of middle & high school students about the issue of addiction, he knows of what he speaks.

MN Adult & Teen Challenge’s Director of Strategic Partnerships battled years of addiction himself. But he found freedom through the love of his family & the faith-based, long term recovery program right at MATC. Now, he shares his story with thousands upon thousands of young people each year.

What many may find surprising about Adam’s story is that he grew up in a fantastic family, and was a bit of an overachiever in his youth.

I grew up in a great home.  I was taught right from wrong.  I knew the negative effects of drugs and alcohol, so I stayed away from it.  I actually didn’t use until after I was twenty one.”

It was an adolescent struggle to find himself that had him looking for ways to cope.

“When I was fifteen, I really struggled with my identity.  I struggled with depression.  And it went un-diagnosed. I started hurting myself – self harm. And that was my first addiction, and there was a lot of shame associated with that – where I wasn’t comfortable talking to people about it, and so I just held onto it.”

On the outside, Adam appeared to be doing famously. On the inside, it was a different tale entirely.

“I finished high school at sixteen. I graduated college at eighteen, and went on to a successful career in the restaurant industry.

But there was just this hole I was trying to fill with my work, with relationships. You know – eventually – I started to try to fill it with alcohol.  And for me, really quickly, things got out a hand. I got started experimenting with other drugs like marijuana, prescription pills, and – in a short period of time really – my life completely unraveled.

I just about lost everything.  I really still struggled with depression. I had three suicide attempts.

I had tried a few treatments, but I still wasn’t willing to give up complete control. “

Adam was blessed with a family that didn’t give up on him, but instead took the only approach that still had a chance of working. They gave him two choices – either leave the house, or go to a long term recovery program at Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge.

“I had the chance to come into the program, and I was completely transformed.  Now I’ll be celebrating eight years of sobriety in a few months.

I am extremely passionate about it, and the biggest thing is that I want people to know that they’re not alone, and that it’s okay to struggle. And it’s okay to ask for help.”

Highlight – Path to Recovery

On the Road with Adam Pederson

To learn more about the incredible ministry of Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, you can visit their home page here.