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Overcoming the pain: Mn Adult & Teen Challenge leads man to sobriety

Brandon Jacobs of Alexandria is in Mn Adult & Teen Challenge and will celebrate one year of sobriety this month. (Contributed)

Brandon Jacobs was an avid athlete until a shoulder injury sidelined him. This injury opened the door to experimenting with pain medications, which eventually lead to years of addiction.

But the 35-year-old says he's turned his life around, with the help of faith-based rehabilitation program Mn Adult & Teen Challenge.

Jacobs, who grew up in Alexandria, was introduced to pain medication after a surgery in college. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2 million Americans were addicted to pain medications in 2015.

"I had my third shoulder surgery freshman year of college and had to take pain meds," he said. "After that I couldn't play football and kind of lost focus. I experimented with anything I could at that point."

Jacobs eventually stopped attending classes at college. Over the next 10 years, he went to five different colleges, was in prison twice and in jail numerous times. He attempted sobriety and recovery a few times, but nothing truly stuck.

"I had six months to a year at one time," he recalled about a period of sobriety. "But I ended up using with my girlfriend at the time. I never really wanted it, I guess."

Jacobs fell back into using drugs, until April 2016, when he was charged with drunken driving.

Given the choice between attending the drug and alcohol treatment program Mn Adult & Teen Challenge or going to a boot camp, Jacobs consulted his brother, who had taken part in Teen Challenge, for advice.

"I asked him what was a better option," Jacobs said. "He said, 'Go to Teen Challenge, it's going to make you the man you want to be."

Mn Adult & Teen Challenge offers licensed short-term and faith-based long-term residential programming, as well as outpatient treatment for both men and women. Jacobs began the Teen Challenge program in February and will celebrate one year of sobriety this month. He says the program has turned his life around because of the religious aspect.

"What's different about it than other programs I've been through is you have the option of having it be faith-based," he said. "I took full advantage of that. During the short-term program, I went to chapel in the morning, had programming through the day and in the evening went to worship."

Though he has seven months left in the program, Jacobs says that he feels ready to navigate recovery after the program.

"I think I am well-equipped," he said. "I am looking forward to what God has to offer and what Teen Challenge is going to do in the next seven months. I know once I am a grad I can always come back and be a part of it. That's one of the big things Teen Challenge offers."

As for those who are struggling with addiction, Jacobs encourages them to reach out for help.

"Ask for help," he said. "Don't run from God, be open. Sometimes it's just that you have to let go."

Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge Banquet

When and where: Thursday, Sept. 14 at the Runestone Community Center

At 5:15 p.m., the silent auction and registration take place. Dinner and the program begin at 6:45 p.m. Silent auction bidding began online on Monday, Sept. 4

Guest Artist: Ginny Owens, an award-winning Christian music singer, will perform.

Tickets: Tables of eight are $320, or tickets may be purchased for $40 each. Visit to purchase tickets online.

Information: Contact Mn Adult & Teen Challenge Events Coordinator David Wrenn at 320-339-4905 or visit

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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