It hurts so bad.-Children of addicts, action from the church








It feels so Bad!!

Fear, guilt, humiliation, despair, loneliness. These are just some of the feelings the child of addiction, COA as they are called, face.                  

  Drug abuse takes its toll on the American family, 1 in 4 children on average live with substance abuse as a daily part of life in the home; in some areas the figure is much, much higher.

  In addition to those children whose families attend church, our Sunday school departments are generally made up of bus ministry, friends of our young ones, children of blended families, etc.  Of the later groups it is a fore gone conclusion that some of these kids are exposed to a substance abusing parent or addict.  Another figure indicates that 11% of all children have at least one parent in need of treatment.

  Some frightening facts about COA’s include the likelihood of mental, physical, and emotional issues, they are four times as likely to be victims of neglect that includes verbal, emotional, physical, and even sexual abuse. If that is not bad enough COA’s are also four times more likely to develop drug abuse and addictions themselves.

  Here is something to consider, children who most effectively cope with the trauma of a family life involving substance abuse attribute their sense of well being to a non-using adult that is significant to their life. The definitions of significant adult include youth pastors and Sunday school teachers.  So what we can we do as ministers and Sunday school teachers?

   Understanding the effects of addiction on children is crucial; often children who live with this type of stress will display negative outward emotions, although some will work hard to conceal it. It is important to understand that children who act out in class are not bad children, they are crying out.

 First, have age appropriate information available in your Sunday school dept. this can be found at , , or by contacting your district or sectional Life in Focus coordinator. ( a good source for preventative drug abuse material suitable for a variety of ages and Sunday school audiences is

  Second, teach children how to identify and express their feelings in healthy ways and encourage them to do this by speaking with “safe adults” (are you a safe adult?)

 Third, and likely most important develop appropriate relationships with COA’s. Many of these children learn to trust few if any adults. (Note that most children think of God in the sense of how they view the adults, particularly the father figures in their lives.)  By investing in these children through listening, giving them assurance and validating their feelings, you lend to make an immeasurable life changing impact on that child.

  Points to emphasize include. It is not your fault. You are not responsible for others actions. You can be your own person by making healthy decisions for your self.   

  In age appropiate classes and when it is safe to do so engage the Sundayschool  class and/or youth group in discussions about substance abuse and how they can be postive peer influences and encourage those that are having a difficult time. If you have a COA in the group and they are comfortable in doing so and the group is safe, allow them to share with the group  their own experiences or bring an adult survivor in to speak. 

   The Missouri District Life In Focus Education and Christian Prisoner Fellowship departments are dedicated to assisting churches and lay leaders impact our youth. For more information on how you can train your youth leaders and Sunday school teachers or if you are a person concerned about COA or at risk youth contact us at


Other useful links

When it's not your kid brochure

NHSDA report-Children living with Substance abusing parents



  July 2018  
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