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A Day in the Life of The 7 Challenges Group

Lidia Harding
Substance Abuse
youth substance use recovery group

Providing a safe space for youth in recovery

Youth Eastside Services’ substance use recovery program, Seven Challenges Therapy, is an evidence-based group therapy program designed to offer youth a safe space to talk about drug use and the challenges that lie beneath. The program includes reading, journaling, group sessions, and one-to-one counseling to help teens become accountable for using substances, including investigating why they use, the impact on their quality of life, and discovering their motives for changing use and behavior.

Here is an account from one young client about what it is like to attend the weekly Seven Challenges Recovery Group:

Coping with unmanageable anxiety

From my own personal battles to the tension and hostile environment that is my home life, my anxiety can feel unmanageable. My days consist of using the skills I’ve learned over the past few years in therapy to just get through the day. Sometimes when I wake up, getting out of bed feels harder than it’s ever been before. Using substances would typically be my next step.

Once I show up to [The 7 Challenges] group I feel like I can speak my mind without feeling judged. I’ve really learned to trust the therapists and other group members as I feel like they give helpful insight and can really relate to what you’re feeling in that moment.

Finding empowerment

While journaling in group I reflect on things like what we like about drugs and also what the risks of using substances are. I really like the way the journals did this since they did it in a way where I didn’t feel bad for my actions but I learned a lot of things I would have done differently and was able to identify many, “even better if’s”.

In discussion, we talk a lot about how boredom and impulsivity lead to a lot of reckless and risky decisions that move focus away from our goals. What I find most helpful is, the therapist’s approach of focusing on what the client wants for their life and their journey. At the end of the day, it’s my choice and I control my own life, it’s not about what anyone else wants. It makes me feel empowered to take control of my future.

We’re not alone in this

Something that I take away from the group is that you really are not alone in this. There are so many others who are in this with you. When I told my friend, “I can’t do this,” they said, “I know you feel like you can’t do this, but I hope you know that we can do this”. Not only was that the best advice and reassurance I’ve ever gotten, that’s also how this group makes me feel.

When I leave the group I feel tired but usually at least a little better than before. There are tons of friendly faces there that never fail to make group fun. I keep coming back to the group because I feel like I need accountability and the space to think about my use and where I want to go from here.

Recovery stories like these are made possible through the generosity of many YES donors. Supporters provide over 5,000 children, youth, and families with a chance of recovery every year.  Thanks to the YES community who continue to support evidence-based therapies and provide young people with hope for a better tomorrow.


You too can be a lifeline in a young person’s life today by making a gift to provide youth with hope for a brighter tomorrow! Whether you donate $5 or $500, every gift will make a difference in the life of a child or youth seeking hope and recovery.

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