Among teens, addiction no longer only includes drugs and alcohol.

Researchers have identified three types of addictive habits: 

  • Addiction to substances: drugs, alcohol, tobacco…
  • Impulse control disorders: stealing, gambling, setting fires…
  • Behavioral addictions: food, screens (phones, internet, video games), porn, cutting…

Addictions are characterized by craving, compulsion, and an inability to stop simply by exerting your own will power.

However, like every other area of life, when we surrender to God and rely on Him, He can give us the strength to overcome whatever it is that is consuming us. 

Use this youth group lesson based on 1 Corinthians 10:13 to teach students that God can give you the strength to overcome addictive habits.

– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

YOUTH GROUP LESSON ON ADDICTIVE HABITS

DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS LESSON

Bible: 1 Corinthians 10:13

Bottom line: God can give you the strength to overcome addictive habits.

SUPPLIES

  • 2 Dodge Balls
  • Masking tape

OPENING ACTIVITY: YOU’RE IT!

GAME PREP

In your youth space, create four squares that are 3 ft. X 3 ft. 

Set-up the squares like a baseball diamond. 

It should look similar to home plate, 1st base, 2nd base, and 3rd base. 

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME

SAY: Here is how our game works. 

Two people are going to be “IT” to start the game. 

They will each have a dodgeball and stand in the middle of all the squares. 

There are four squares and those are safe zones. 

You have to run in a counterclockwise direction – you can only go in one direction to get to the next safe zone.

I will need three people in each one of the safe zones, that means there will be a total of twelve people that are currently safe. 

Everyone else needs to stand in the middle of the paths going to each safe zone. 

When I yell, GO, those who are not in the safe zone need to run (counterclockwise direction) to the safe zone. 

If a person makes it to the safe zone, then the person who is closest to the next safe zone has to run to the next safe zone. 

So, you will always be moving from one safe zone to the next. 

ONLY 3 PEOPLE are allowed in the safe zone at a time, so if someone gets in the zone, then the person closest to the next zone must move on. 

The two people who are IT are going to try and tag you with the dodgeball.

If you get hit you are now a thrower and the thrower can run in the safe zones.

Note: If you have a larger group you can make the safe zone bigger or if you have a smaller group you can make it smaller. 

Note: If you want those that get hit in-between the safe zones to be out of the game completely, you can do that until there is one person left, they will be the winner.

TEACH

Say: The game was fun to watch – it was nonstop running and action!

We could compare this game to life…

Sometimes we find ourselves running from one thing to the next, trying to make it from day to day… and sometimes even just escape the stress of everything, even for just a little while. 

Ask: Can you name some healthy things people do to manage stress in their lives?

Allow a few responses from students.

Ask: What are some unhealthy things people do when they feel overwhelmed by life?

Allow some responses from students.

Sometimes we try to deal with problems, stress, responsibility, and situations by trying to “escape.”

Research has found that between the ages of 8 and 18, students spend an average of 9 hours a day staring at a screen.

That includes computers, tv, video games, phones…

It’s not too hard to believe because many of us really enjoy using all of those things.

When you stop and think about how much time you spend on those things, the time might even add up to more time than the 9-hour average.

Ask: What are students your age doing on their phones most of the time? 

Allow a few responses from students.

With Instagram and Snapchat it is easy to be drawn into the world of social media. 

Ask: Do you think social media, video games, and TV can be addictive?

Allow a few responses from students.

Social media can be addicting because you want to see what all of your friends are doing. 

You might want to make sure what is going on in everyone’s life, so you are in the know. 

Maybe you post a picture and you are excited to see all of the different responses you’re going to get. 

Maybe you bought a new video game, and you want to beat the game before anyone else does (and it’s just so much fun to play), but you abandon your responsibilities in order to spend time playing it.

You see, the issue is not always what you’re doing, but how much you’re allowing what you do to control you.

In moderation, most of those things are not bad. 

But when we allow the things that consume our time to take priority over our responsibilities, commitments, or relationships, we need to take a look at why we are spending so much time doing those things.

At your age, you’re setting patterns in your life that will continue into adulthood.

If you can prioritize how you spend your time and money now, you are giving yourself a huge advantage.

But trying to make decisions like that on our own can be really tough – we need God’s help to change our hearts and perspective.

Instead of trying to escape what’s going on in our lives through addictive habits like spending gobs of time on our phones, playing video games, or even more dangerous habits like using drugs and alcohol, we can turn to God to fill the places in our lives that are craving peace.

And maybe you have already found yourself in a place where you feel trapped by a desire to engage in some type of activity that is beginning to control you.

Ask: What can you do when you feel like you’re losing control in an area of your life? 

What do you do when an activity or habit begins to control you?

Allow a few responses from students.

From my own experience, I know that if I turn to God and allow the Holy Spirit to work in my life, He will give me the strength to overcome addictive habits. 

But, you must take the first step in doing that by turning away from these habits and turning to God.

There are going to be times when you are tempted to turn back to these addictive habits because they seem so fun and can make your life less boring. 

You can resist the temptation to use these addictive habits as an escape by turning to God through prayer and studying the Bible. 

In fact, temptation isn’t something new; people since the very beginning of time have faced temptation – and overcome!

There is hope, and it’s found in Scripture. 

Read 1 Corinthians 10:13.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. 

God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

I love what this verse tells us – God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. 

Meaning because of the Holy Spirit that lives in you, you can turn away from any temptation. 

He goes even further to say, that if you are in the midst of it and can’t control your temptation, God will provide you with a way out.

You can break free of these addictive habits and turn to God. 

Allow God to show you that He can pull you away from these addictive habits and find a way out from them.

This process begins by admitting to God that you need help.

God will hear and provide you with a way out – it might come in the form of guidance from other godly people, strength that goes beyond what you have on your own, or by giving you a different focus that helps you see beyond what you desire right now.

Just remember – God never expects you to try and live life on your own, His desire is to guide and direct your steps as you turn to Him.

And He can give you the strength to overcome any temptation that you face because He cares about you.

Close in prayer.

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 

  1. Why do people spend so much time staring at screens? Why is it easy to be drawn in and escape through technology?
  2. Is it wrong to spend too much time on social media?
  3. How can video games become addicting? Do you think they are?
  4. If you are tempted to go on social media or play videos games and neglect the responsibilities and relationships in your life, what can you do? 
  5. How would you turn to God instead of addicting habits? 
  6. How much time do you spend devoted to social media, video games or some other form of entertainment?
  7. How can God help you overcome all of the addictions in your life? 
  8. What should you do if you feel tempted to turn back to social media or video games? 
  9. What can you do instead of engaging in things that consume your time?
  10. Why do people make social media and video games such a priority? 

DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS LESSON

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