I’m of the opinion that everybody is addicted to something. Everybody. To Something.
But as tends to be the norm in Christendom, the ‘biggies” seem to get all the attention. To be sure, some of your students are addicted, or dangerously close, to self-harm, drinking, drugs, pornography and the like; and as youth workers we need to feel equipped to help these hurting teenagers (more on that in a minute).
But everybody is addicted to something. Everybody. To something.
Some of your students are struggling with addictions to the “biggies”, but most aren’t. Instead, they are struggling day to day with small, often unidentified, addictions that are slowly chewing away at their faith, their joy and their ability to live the full life Jesus Christ promises.
Some of your students are addicted to gossip. Some are addicted to resentment. Others to anger, jealousy, performance, acceptance or image. Some are addicted to fear. Some are addicted to comparing. Others to insecurity, guilt, happiness or comfort. Everybody is addicted to something. Everybody. To something.
So how do you help students attack their addictions?
FOR THE “BIGGIES”: For students struggling with traditional addictions….the “biggies”, it’s of vital importance you don’t try to navigate that with them on your own! Be sure to have a list of qualified, trusted counselors on hand that you can refer families to. Consider starting “The Landing” as a regular part of your youth group so students struggling with addictions can have a safe place for ongoing hope and help.
FOR THE REST OF YOUR STUDENTS: Help them attack their addictions by attacking them together! Point out the reality that we are all addicted to something, that we probably can’t face them down on our own and that our various “addictions” are causing long-term harm. Teach about this stuff, pray with students about it, and work to create a culture in your youth ministry where it’s okay to admit struggles. Imagine a youth group in which a student would feel comfortable saying, “Hi, I’m Brittany and I am addicted to resentment.”!
Let’s continue to walk with students caught in the traditional addictions. And, as we do, let’s not forget that all of them are addicted to something. All of them. To something.