Teenagers and Addiction:
How to Council
Pick a poison: there are so many crazy things in our world which can ensnare human desire. The destructive power of addiction is a dominating force of control. For most people, addiction a hopeless place filled with patterns that feel unbreakable.
In yesterday’s article we mentioned that we’re covering a few basics for ministering to students in pain. Addiction is common, but it’s not really basic at all. If your student is struggling with a full-blown addiction, it’s our opinion that professional help and/or an established program may be needed to find complete healing. It doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the healing process, but as a youth worker you ought to be knowledgeable of people and resources within your community where you can refer addictions.
In addition to referral, an important action that you can take is to connect the teenager to someone who has fought a similar addiction and broke the grip the addiction once held. When you make the connection, it doesn’t mean you need disconnect or back away… just the opposite! He or she needs you to engage and be present in their life. It’s in the midst of struggle that we need community and relationships the most.
Addiction is often the result of many poor, personal choices. But, experience tells us that self-inflicted pain doesn’t happen in a vacuum. No kid grows up thinking, “When I’m older, I hope I get shackled to a specific consuming desire that leads to a self destructing life.” Many outside factors have worked against a teenager who is trapped in an addiction. The world is an ugly place and when young people get trapped it’s not right or fair.
Connect with a genuine empathy and be ready to walk with him/her for the long haul. Addictions take time to develop and they take time to eradicate. There is no quick fix for an addiction because there is no short cut to regaining self-control. When a person decides to battle their addiction, there will be lots of ups and downs. They will need you to be there to celebrate the successes and offer comfort the failures.
Ultimately, you will best serve teenagers when you can accept your role in their life. You can’t take away their free will, no matter how much you love a hurting student and you can’t make them choose a healthy lifestyle. But, you can pray with passion, be present with joy, and reflect the love of Jesus.
This article “Teenagers and Addiction: How to Council” by Matt Klossen was excerpted from: www.youthministry.com website. July 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”