4 Ways to Help a Student with An Addiction

I still remember that lunch with that student. 

There was a distance and her body language was telling me loud and clear that this was the last place she wanted to be.  I couldn’t blame her.

She was addicted to drugs.  Her parents were exhausted and destroyed.  They had asked me to help and talk to her.

I find this such a difficult situation.  Of course I want to help.  This is a big reason why I am in the ministry.  But I’ve never taken drugs.  I’ve never been addicted to drugs.  How can I help?

Here are 4 ways I’ve found to help a student with an addiction:

1. Find Out What  They Want

Maybe the student sees no problems with their actions and don’t want to change.  If this is the case then it is best to continue to show them love.  Build trust and a friendship with them.  Over time you will be able to share your perspective.

However, what if they see they have a problem but don’t want to take any action.  Your goal is to gently nudge them towards change.  Your conversations have to be causing them to think about change.

There will come a time when the student wants to change but doesn’t know how.  This is when you must jump in and give support.

2. Get the Information that Matters

You need to ask the student a lot of questions.  You are Sherlock Holmes and this is your case.

  • when did the addiction start?
  • when are they most tempted?
  • under what circumstances does the addiction manifest itself?
  • has the student moved on to harder drugs?

3. Make a Plan

After getting answers to these questions, then it is time to make a plan.  If the addiction is porn then maybe the plan is the student gets rid of the phone for a while.  If it is drugs then it might be cutting off some friends.

The key is that without a plan nothing new will happen.

4. Find Support

Is there a 12 step program in your church or a nearby church?  Is there someone that you know that has overcome an addiction?

These are the types of support that the student needs.  Can you help them find them?

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Tyson Howells

Tyson is the associate youth ministry director for Vanguard Youth Ministry Institute. He has been a youth pastor for many years in Winnipeg as well as in Edmonton. Tyson is passionate in seeing relational youth ministry that results in youth that are passionate about following Jesus. He still leads a small group at the youth group in his home church.