Raising teenagers in South Florida is challenging. Pressure for teenagers to smoke cigarettes, do drugs and drink alcohol are prevalent in society. The problem can be found in our schools, neighborhoods and parks . My neighborhood is a family neighborhood, which backs up to a large church. And yet, my teenage boys have been offered drugs while shooting hoops in the park. Church kids skip out on church to smoke pot in the park. Most public schools have accepted teen drug and alcohol use, and Christian schools are facing the challenge of binge drinking parties and marijuana use. The problem runs deep!
There is a positive note.
A recent survey was conducted by United Way Commission on Substance Abuse and the Broward County School Board and they presented their findings on March 3rd.
The findings indicate more than 80 percent of Broward County students are not current alcohol users. Broward County alone saw a decline in current alcohol use among middle and high school students from 33 percent in 2000 to 17.8 percent in 2014, with the sharpest decreases occurring since 2010.
The prevalence of current cigarette use declined nearly 15% points among Broward high school students from 18.7 percent in 2000 to 4 percent in 2014. Likewise, cigarette use from Broward middle school students fell from 8.1 percent in 2000 to one percent in 2014.
Even with this positive decline, teen alcohol and drug use is still prevalent and our kids are not immune from these pressures. Pressure becomes experimentation, and it’s not long before experimentation becomes substance abuse and addiction.
In Christ alone there is freedom from the habits which destroy so many young people. The Bible denounces these sins because they are the enemy of human life.
According to drugfree.org parents are the most important influence on drug and alcohol use. Keeping our kids free from any influence or pressure is impossible, but being on the offense instead of defense will help keep your teenagers free from a life of substance abuse and addiction.
Here are some forms of offensive biblical truths in guiding your kids.
Set the standards at home
Your kids have a better shot at resisting and refusing to partake in cigarettes and alcohol when it’s not being practiced at home. They watch what you do more than what you say. It’s always better to set an example in your own home than to have to justify why you expect one thing but you do the very opposite. (Phillipians 2:13, 15)
You can never over communicate
Your teenagers are receiving constant messages all day long. Whether it’s through music, television,
advertising, movies or social media, their brains are receiving a barrage of messages — messages that go against God’s best for them. According to drugfree.org parents should keep the lines of communication open, set clear limits, be directly involved in his or her everyday world and talk often, listen regularly and communicate clearly that you do not want your teen using drugs.
Help your teens become spiritually minded and not worldly minded by communicating Gods ways and His plan and purposes. (Romans 8:6) This is accomplished through biblical truth.
Offer Biblical Truth
Society and even some states want our teenagers to believe that drug and alcohol use should be accepted and even medicinal. But God’s Word teaches a lot more about how we should care for our bodies and our emotional and mental health, keeping our lives under the control of The Holy Spirit. Teach your children God’s truth. Scripture is not so much about “do’s and don’ts” as much as it is about God’s loving plan to protect us from the consequences of sin. Lung cancer, liver damage, broken relationships, alcohol and drug related deaths are all the consequences of sin, and sin always leads to death. (James 1:14-15)
So teach your teenager’s how God’s Word always leads to life.
Our bodies and our brains
There is a beautiful reality about God’s love and concern for our mind and bodies. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, we are the temple of God’s Holy presence. We are expected to treat our bodies and offer our bodies as instruments of righteousness for His sake. (Romans 6:11-13). Help your teenagers understand how to care for their brain and their body for God’s purposes.
And finally, if your teenager is caught up in drug or alcohol addiction, healing begins with the discovery that Jesus can meet our every need. True faith in Jesus is the start to rich and healthy lifestyle choices for your teenager. Christian and biblical counseling is an important step in overcoming and healing. Invest in biblical counseling and substance abuse programs to help them overcome their dependence and addiction.
Pastor Brody Howell is the founder of Core Solutions For Family Life where he consults with churches and schools to impact families. He frequently fills pulpits in churches throughout South Florida and is an area advisor for First Priority of South Florida. He is also director of the new Family Counseling Center in Pompano, Florida. Pastor Brody can be reached at [email protected].