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Addictions and Substance Abuse

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 16.7 million American adults and another 697,000 adolescents aged 12-17 were classified as needing treatment for an alcohol use disorder in 2013. 10,076 persons died as a result of alcohol-impaired driving.  In 2015, 58.2% of America's students through grade 12 had used alcohol in the past year, and over one-fifth of twelth-graders had used marijuana in the past month. Clearly, substance abuse is a problem of epidemic proportions in our society. 

Although the Assemblies of God promotes abstinence from the use of alcohol, many persons coming to faith may be dealing with substance abuse or have family and friends who need help. Churches and individuals are encouraged to engage in compassionately addressing substance abuse problems in their communities, both in the church context and in partnership with local schools, law enforcement, and community groups.

To view the position paper on this topic, click here
To read the U.S. Missions Philosophy of Ministry
on this topic, click here

The General Council of the Assemblies of God® addresses the needs of those struggling with alcohol and drug addictions through the work of Teen Challenge USA, one of the "7 Windows to America" of U.S. Missions. Visit the Teen Challenge USA website to find a center in your area, get more information about the program, or to arrange a speaker for your church or group.

Read "A Throwaway Redeemed," a PE News interview
with Pennsylvania pastor Jim Rivera,
about his life-changing encounter with
Teen Challenge founder Rev. David Wilkerson.

FAQ's and Statistics

The U.S. government monitors substance abuse data and makes it available at several different agency websites.  Here are a few suggestions of what's where:   

   White House Office of National Drug Control Policy - statistics, recent initiatives, overview of national drug control strategy.

    "Facing Addiction in America:The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health" - Downloadable executive summary, key findings, and supplementary materials from this first-ever report released in December, 2016.

    The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that alcohol is the most widely abused substance among America's youth, resulting in huge risks to their health and safety.  The NIAAA website offers statistics, warning signs, and suggestions for intervention.  

   Alcohol use statistics from the Center for Disease Control

   From - "Understanding Drug & Alcohol Addiction on College Campuses" - how extensive is the problem and what risk factors are involved?

   Teen Substance Abuse: Where does your state rank?

  Drinking Statistics from the National Institute on Health - See also the report from the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse, "Monitoring the Future: National Survey Results on Drug Use."

   Fact sheets and informative publications from the Drug Enforcement Administration: Controlled substance schedules, how different drugs are abused and their effects, and more,

   FAQ Centers for Disease Control

   SAMHSA Report: Estimates from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Several non-government organizations' websites offer statistical information along with ways to find help:

    AlcoRehab -  Includes an excellent section on recognizing/admitting there is a problem, in oneself or a friend or loved one.

   Who drinks, and who uses drugs? And why?  Check out "By the Numbers" from The Oaks Treatment Center.

   What exactly is addiction?  What types of addiction are most prevalent?  Get this information and more from The Addiction Center website.

   AddictionResource website - informational website for those struggling with addiction or for family and friends trying to help.  Get the information you need about types of drugs, symptoms and effects, how to work with insurance for treatment, and many other questions.

    Drug Rehab - Connecting addicts and their families with the information they need to get help. Site includes a helpful FAQ section. offers lists of treatment centers by state, including faith-based and specifically Christian providers for each state.

   Prescription drug abuse: Who and how?  See "Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts and Figures" from the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

    Pornography is becoming an addiction of epidemic proportions.  Get the latest statistics from Covenant Eyes, a Christian internet accountability organization.


   Contact any Teen Challenge Center to ask about scheduling a speaker, testimonies from Teen Challenge graduates, or even a musical program.

   Paul Palmer and the Atlanta Dream Center staff

   Barbara Gilliam, D.Min., member of the leadership team for Southern California District (Assemblies of God) Women in Ministry and founder of Compassionate Wisdom Works (equipping the church to minister to those struggling with addictions)


Resources and Training for the Church

  Be the catalyst for change in your community: Invite concerned neighborhood residents, law enforcement, civic groups, and representatives from recovery programs to join your church for an awareness session.  Read about how one church gave a "Community Wake-Up Call" about the heroin problem in their area (PE News).

 Should the church offer addiction recovery ministry?  Check out the report, "So Help Me God" from CASAColumbia about the importance of religion and spirituality in successful treatment and recovery.

   SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) offers a variety of resources for faith-based and community partnership initiatives. Get the guidelines you need to work with government resources.

   Teen Challenge Discipleship: Studies for individuals and small groups, including "Living Free" curriculum

   Celebrate Recovery: Christ-centered recovery ministry operating in churches nationwide.  Visit their website for information about starting a group, or to find a group near you.

   The Fuller Institute for Recovery Ministry trains pastors, chaplains, and other ministry or lay leaders to minister effectively to recovering individuals in their churches or in recovery programs.

    State and regional coalitions often provide training for faith groups wishing to get involved in substance abuse prevention through mentoring, hosting support groups, etc. Search "mentoring opportunities for substance abuse prevention" and your location for possibilities, or see Prevention Consultants of Missouri for a sample of available resources. 

Additional Resources

Residential Recovery Programs and Support Groups

 In process: Compilation, arranged geographically, of churches and community groups offering support groups using faith-based variations of 12-step curriculum.  Check back soon! In the meantime, helpful resources are listed below.


   Living Free: Recommended by Teen Challenge, this small group ministry program helps churches and individuals identify strategies for effectively working to address life-controlling problems in their communities. Visit their website for a resource catalog and information about starting a ministry or finding one near you. 

   Blog post: "Easing Kids into Support Groups" - Creating a setting where kids make friends, have fun, and feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and struggles about a parent's addiction?  Never easy and takes patience, according to this writer, but so worthwhile.

   Restorative Interventions - Faith-based intervention, education, and family restoration to help families motivate a loved one to enter treatment.

   Residential recovery programs for young women struggling with addictions: Mercy Multiplied

   Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation: Inspired by the former First Lady's transparency about her own struggles and her passion to help others, the Foundation operates several treatment centers as well as offering educational materials and family support. Their post, "Defusing the Cravings Bomb in Addiction Recovery" is a helpful explanation of how the brain can be triggered, even well into recovery, and how awareness of those triggers helps with management skills.

   Overcomers Outreach: Network of Christ-based 12-step meetings - find a group

   Shalom House Ministries: holistic recovery for women addicted to alcohol and drugs


Recent Articles and Posts

  Making the connection between trauma and addiction can be a key component in successful long-term recovery.  See this blog post, "Breaking the Cycle of Substance Abuse in Trauma Victims," from Maryland Recovery.

   From PE News: A former football player shares how an injury led to his abuse of prescription pain medications and, eventually, heroin, in "The Opioid Rage." Now actively involved in recovery ministry with Teen Challenge, he helps others find freedom and works to spread awareness of the risks and dangers.

  "My Road to Long-Term Recovery from Opioid Abuse" - from the Department of HHS, a young man shares how curiosity about a friend's painkillers started him on a downward spiral, and how family support, faith, and accountability groups are helping him live successfully in recovery.  

  From the Denison Forum: Reflections on the tragedy of pornography addiction in the light of recent current events. Check out the blog post here.

  "Saving a Runaway," Pentecostal Evangel, November 30, 2014

  Blog post: "The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think" - Explores research supporting the human need for connection, and suggests that addiction is fueled not as much by availability of substances as by the lack of those necessary human connections. 

   "Why Peer Support is Playing a Growing Role in Addiction Recovery" - Check out this story of a Missouri peer group experiencing success in empowering one another, and why the group's founder believes states should do more to support peer groups.


Other Resources  

      SAMHSA's Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies - Resources for establishing coalitions, task forces, and community partnerships for substance abuse prevention. Includes logic models, templates, and other downloadables. Also from SAMHSA, see the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices for additional prevention strategies.

      National Alliance for Drug-Endangered Children - Facilitating community partnerships to train practitioners to identify children in drug-endangered environments and respond appropriately to their needs. A variety of training formats including webinars, conferences, downloadable resources, and FAQ section. - Great resources for parents about talking with teens and observing warning signs of substance abuse.

      A Sober Mom's Guide to Recoveryby Rosemary O'Connor - Parenting is tough enough without the complication of trying to live successfully in recovery. Moms in recovery may need special encouragement as they struggle with guilt, wonder if their kids will have addiction issues, or navigate financial and schedule challenges. This book offers help for "taking care of yourself to take care of your kids."

      The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) - Links to affiliate recovery groups; information about various addictive substances; support for families and friends, including how to conduct an intervention.  For additional resources, publications, posters, downloadables, see the National Institute on Drug Abuse website.

      Addiction is tough on families and friends who love the addicted individual.  12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery offer a component for families; also check out Families Against Narcotics (FAN),, and The Addict's Mom for a supportive, understanding online community.

    AddictionResource and The Addiction Center:   Browse these informative websites for an overview of types of addictions, symptoms, treatment options, encouraging and helpful links for concerned families and friends, and how to determine if your insurance or other sources will help cover the cost. 

     Research from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's Butler Center for Research - "Alcohol Abuse Among Law Enforcement" - Research examining the effects of the constant stress and trauma experienced by first responders. Read an excerpt or download the report.

   "Bridgers" - New program from the VA to help veterans transition into a productive life following completion of addiction treatment.

   Set Free Ministries offers personal counseling and Biblical discipleship for various forms of addiction and oppression.  Visit their website for free downloadable position papers and other resources outlining the Biblical position on several current topics.

   View this amazing trailer of the award-winning documentary, "Healing Neen," the story of one woman's journey from the depths of suffering and abuse, using alcohol and drugs as a deadly way to cope, to healing through God's grace and becoming a leading voice for trauma-informed therapy.  Visit to see the trailer and order the DVD or memoir.

   For additional information on the complex relationships between substance abuse and victimization or trauma, see the Office for Victims of Crimes publication, Gaining Insight, Taking Action: Basic Skills for Serving Victims (DVD with companion discussion guide). This excellent resource for victim advocates stresses the importance of collaboration, especially with the faith-based community, in assisting crime victims who are also dealing with substance abuse.

    Tips for addressing trauma in the context of substance abuse recovery are also available from Hazelden Publishing.

    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration publications - see the free download, "10 Guiding Principles of Recovery"

    Alcohol and pregnancy: find educational resources about drinking during pregnancy, plus help for caregivers of alcohol-affected children, at

    The National Association for Christian Recovery website features links to Christian resources, blogs, referrals for finding help, and more.


Pornography Addiction Resources

    Children and teens are viewing pornography at an alarming rate. See this recent blog post for statistics and reasons parents should be concerned.  As this article from Relevant reports, secular and faith-based researchers alike are concerned that "Porn Addiction Is Now Threatening An Entire Generation."

    From the Global Center for Women & Justice at Vanguard University - Podcast, "Pornography: A Public Health Crisis" with Dr. Sandra Morgan and guests.

    Get reliable, faith-based accountability software through Covenant Eyes.  Special pricing for families and groups.  Check out their resources for individuals, families, and churches, including e-books and free downloadable materials, here.  They also offer helpful material for spouses of those recovering from porn addiction, such as this article - "What Every Wife of a Sex Addict Has a Right to Know about Her Husband's Recovery."

    Do porn cravings signify some deeper need, and lead to consumption of porn to satisfy it? Covenant Eyes explores ways porn deceptively tricks users into believing it is satisfying those needs, in "19 Possible Motives Triggering Porn Consumption."

    Be Broken Ministries - Help for anyone struggling with sexual brokenness, including pornography addiction and affairs.

    Pornography affects the brain in similar ways to that of drug abuse, and it is just as addictive.  Learn more at  Find resources for recovery from sexual addiction at and

    Find quality entertainment for your family that doesn't include access to questionable channels and shows.  Pure Flix offers reasonably priced, faith-based viewing alternatives.


School Program Resources

   National Drug Facts Week planning resources

   "Stay Sharp" high school presentation (Teen Challenge)

   Find resources for education, intervention, and program funding at

   Prevention toolkits and educator information from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)

   Teen Intervene Collection from the Hazelden Foundation and Hazelden Publishing - For use in youth settings to assist with self-identification, intervention, and guidance toward treatment.


Did you know--

Are you wondering about the drugs recommended for you or a loved one for controlling pain? With deaths from prescription drug overdose on the rise, there is good reason for concern. Read one woman's story in "I Was the Perfect Mom and Wife--and Secretly Addicted to Opioids," and learn what made her realize she had to do something about it. Learn what the Department of Health and Human Services is doing to combat the problem of prescription drug abuse.  

According to the Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration, a significant number of young people first experience substance abuse not from some dark alley interaction with a shady dealer, but with leftover prescription drugs from their parents' medicine cabinet. Follow these guidelines from the DEA for disposing of your leftover medicine.







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