Help Kids Take a Stand Against Alcohol and Drugs
With prom and graduation seasons here, teenagers may face more opportunities than usual to experiment with drinking and drug use. Kids turn to these substances not only to look cool and fit in with the crowd but also because they may help them feel good, ease their nerves, and make socializing easier.
Alcohol and drugs are addictive and harmful, as well as illegal. Using and abusing them can lead to everything from bad decisions to death. But there’s much more for Christian teenagers to consider when they’re faced with temptations of drugs and alcohol than just being “safe.”
In the Bible, Jesus instructs his followers to stay awake and alert in our everyday lives. He said evil is stalking us like a “roaring lion” (see 1 Peter 5:8), and he wasn’t kidding. God instructs us to take up his armor (see Ephesians 6:13-17) so we can stand firm and resist temptation. He also tells us to walk in the light (see 1 John 1:7). Nothing neutralizes our impact for God’s kingdom faster, broader, and deeper than shadow living. Whatever we do, we should train kids to live their lives in the light—away from the shadows that give evil, God’s enemy, room to operate and leverage to sideline us.
So when you talk to your teenagers about the physical and legal reasons to steer clear of drugs and alcohol, remember to mention the spiritual reasons as well. Then stop talking and set an example by how you live. God knows about all the temptations we face and wants to be the first place we turn during difficulties.
The United Methodist Perspective
During worship, Marnie, a woman in her 60s, talked about the impact of being a pen pal and visitor in our church’s prison ministry. Then her pen pal, Chris, newly released from prison, came to the podium. He was nervous and read carefully from a note card. Chris said he’d allowed alcohol and drugs to control his life, eventually landing him in prison. He shared how Marnie’s love and concern had given him the hope and courage to survive prison and undergo treatment. Marnie had saved his life, he said, not only by helping him through incarceration and addiction but by allowing him to experience Christ’s love through her love for him.
Everyone was moved to tears. We saw what it means to be Christ’s church. We all saw ourselves in Chris and longed to be faithful like Marnie.
The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church state: “We commit ourselves to assisting those who suffer from abuse or dependence, and their families.” I’d read that statement many times but had never seen it lived out before my eyes until then. Through Marnie’s servant heart and commitment, Chris has found hope and new life.
(Hank Hilliard, Young People’s Ministries,


Contrary to media reports and popular opinion, not all teenagers are into drugs and alcohol. Check out a few of the latest findings:
By the time they’re seniors in high school, 36% of all teenagers have experimented with illegal drugs. (Office of National Drug Control Policy)

Every day, 2,500 teenagers use a prescription drug to get high for the first time. (
When American young people were asked what makes them happy, only 8% said drinking makes them “very happy.” And 55% said the question doesn’t apply. (MTV/AP)
Alcohol use continues to decline among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, as does use of cigarettes and meth. Meanwhile, marijuana use is on the rise. (Office of National Drug Control Policy)


Great Questions
…to Ask Your Kids
Start conversations with your teenagers about drinking and drugs by using these discussion starters:
1. What motivates people to drink or do drugs? What’s so appealing about getting drunk or high?
2. Why do people believe drunkenness or drug use can fill their emptiness? Can you be both drunk (or on drugs) and filled with God’s Spirit? Why or why not?
3. Why should Christians avoid drugs and alcohol? Is it merely because they’re illegal or bad for you? Explain.
4. When everyone else seems to be drinking or using, how can you be clean and sober?

Pray that:
1. God will help your teenagers resist the temptations of alcohol and drugs, finding fulfillment from positive sources instead.
2. Your teenagers will be able to recognize the false promises of happiness and “coolness” offered by alcohol and drugs.
3. Among friends, your teenagers can take a strong stand against mind-altering substances.
4. God will bless your teenagers for pursuing a relationship with him rather than chasing after the “high” from drugs and alcohol

“Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:17-18)

Many lives have been ruined—and even destroyed—by alcohol and illegal substances. They seem to offer people of all ages quick solutions to common life experiences of pain and loneliness. But only God’s presence can truly fill our deepest longings. God wants his children to make wise decisions that honor him, and he promises to renew our weak spirits with his all-powerful Holy Spirit.


At, youth-culture expert Walt Mueller offers these tips for teaching your teenagers about alcohol.
Most teenagers are left to get their information about alcohol from unreliable sources. Some learn from their friends. Others learn from the media. Only about one in three middle school and high school students say their parents talk to them “often” or “a lot” about tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. Alcohol education should start when we tell our preschoolers not to accept candy, gifts, pills, or rides from strangers. As they grow older, educate kids on the different types of alcohol they’ll encounter and the dangers and effects of each. Don’t overstate the danger by saying that everyone who drinks beer will die. Rather, tell kids about the potential short- and long-term harmful effects of alcohol abuse in a truthful, realistic manner. Don’t assume that because teenagers are likely to experiment it’s best to give them both the alcohol and a place to drink “safely.”Seize teachable moments as kids encounter alcohol use and abuse in the media.

Teach them to discern the false messages. Help them pick apart the ridiculous promises and nature of alcohol ads. Teach them that it’s against the law for minors to buy or drink alcohol. Teach kids that God has given them the responsibility to obey laws. Read and study Romans 13:1-3, 6-7 with your kids. And if they get caught, be sure they’re given the wonderful opportunity to learn by suffering the legal consequences of their actions. Don’t work to “fix” any of the legal ramifications. Read together what Scripture says about drunkenness in passages such as Proverbs 23:20-21; 1 Corinthians 5:11; Galatians 5:19-21; and 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8. Finally, walk your talk. A code of biblical moral conduct lived out in the house is the most powerful shaper of your child’s own spiritual values and behaviors.


Survival City
You’ve heard the stat 70% of teenagers will abandon their faith after they graduate from high school.

Want to know something even scarier? Many parents are settling for Survival City. What I mean is this, some parents have given in to the seemingly inescapable reality that the average Christian teenager won’t make it spiritually through college without trashing their Christianity, so they have settled for survival.
“If my teen doesn’t get wasted too often, keeps their faith in tact and graduates from college still believing in God, then I’ve done my job.”
Since when has just surviving in the Christian faith ever been considered success? (Even in the 1st century Roman Coliseum it wasn’t just about survival—that’s why the 1st century church turned the world upside down!) Since when has seeing teenagers not abandon their faith been considered a full-on victory? Sure, it’s better than seeing them lose their faith. But Jesus never calls us to just survive. Instead he calls us to thrive. (In John 10:10 it’s call the abundant life.) And He calls us to call our teens to thrive as well!
And just in case you were wondering, thrive does not mean your teen is successfully hiding the fact that they go to lots of drinking parties. Mounting research shows that the teenage brain is in the midst an amazing developmental phase. That brain growth spurt gives teens remarkable cognitive powers, but also leaves their brains more vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Recent research has also shown that the earlier teenagers start drinking, the more likely they are to have problems as adults with school, jobs, and relationships.
Sure, some of our teenagers will just survive their college years spiritually. Others will get obliterated (wasted may be a better word) and turn their backs on God. But some could and should thrive. Don’t feel bad about this. Some of Jesus’ youth group crashed and burned (see Judas). Others survived but barely (see doubting Thomas.) But most thrived! If this was true of Jesus, it will be true of us too.
What’s my practical point here? Simple, if we make our ultimate destination Survival City some of our teens will probably make it there. But none will make it to the beautiful town called Thrive.