Prayers for a Teenager (Or Parent) Struggling with Drugs or Alcohol


Sometimes the teenagers we love go through season of pain and suffering, and we quickly reach the limits of our human ability to help. We long to pour out our hearts to God, but it can be hard to find words when we are worried or afraid. Thanks be to God, we who have the Holy Spirit do not have to form perfect phrases, because “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). But there are times when it is a comfort to us to speak words, to pray out loud from the Scriptures, because as we pray we are reminded of the promises and character of God who loves our teenagers more than we can imagine. Over the next few weeks we will offer you prayers you can use as a starting point to lift up the teenagers you love to the Lord. We hope these will encourage you to remain steadfast in prayer, for “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (Jas. 5:16).

In one of the college courses that I teach, “Substance Use, Misuse, and Abuse,” we learn about the various classes of drugs, their history, effects on the body, and related statistics. Each time I teach the course I am overwhelmed by the damage that drugs and alcohol can have on an individual, family, and community. I myself have watched dear friends lose siblings to addiction or overdose.

Despite evidence that there may be some benefits to certain populations, such as medicinal marijuana for cancer patients or wine for the reduction of heart disease, more often, drugs and alcohol are harmful to our physical and mental well-being, both in length and quality of life.

Yet, for many of us, our brain, family, or community may tell a different story. Our brain may signal that alcohol will ease social anxiety, general anxiety, or hopelessness. Our family may be normalizing the use, even abuse, of these harmful substances. And our communities, including our friends, schools, or church may be filled with godly, successful adults who make alcohol and/or drugs a frequent part of their life.

Even the Bible paints a spectrum of God’s people who range from alcohol-free (Daniel), to drunk (Noah), to miracle wine-makers (Jesus).

How then will we reconcile the health statistics, cultural norms, and internal battles we face with drugs and alcohol? By looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith; the one who came to redeem and restore all broken relationships—including the ones we and our loved ones have with harmful substances.

Below are Scripture passages and prayers that I hope will encourage the parent or teen struggling with drugs or alcohol.

Prayer for the teen struggling with drugs or alcohol: Abide in Christ (John 15:4-11)

Father, our peace and joy come from you alone. When I am tempted to gain peace or joy from drugs and alcohol, help me to abide in Christ and to receive fullness of joy in your love for me through your Son.

Prayer for the parent or teen in a family or community struggling with drugs or alcohol: Peaceable living (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18; Galatians 6:1-2)

Father, as far as it depends on me, let me live at peace with those around me. Protect me from the temptation to hide or ignore problems with drugs and alcohol in my family and community. Give me the wisdom, strength, and resources to seek help for myself and those I love. Help me to accept the places where peaceable living does not depend on me and to seek peace from trustworthy sources, like your Word and people. 

Prayer for the parent or teen experiencing social pressure or social anxiety: Follow Christ, our Brother (Romans 12:2-3; Hebrews 2:14-18; 1 Peter 5:6-10)

Father, give me humility and awareness of my weaknesses and dependence upon Christ, my brother. Help me to remain confident, humble, and real with you and others. By the power of the Holy Spirit, help me to resist temptations through fellowship, prayer, and Bible reading. Use these to restore, establish, strengthen, and settle me.

The Serenity Prayer used by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a prayer long relied upon by those struggling with drugs and alcohol:

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as He did, this sinful world

As it is, not as I would have it;

Trusting that He will make things right

If I surrender to His Will;

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life

And supremely happy with Him

Forever and ever in the next.


Resources for Parents and Teens:


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Moderation Management (MM)

Dear William: A Father’s Memoir of Addiction, Recovery, Love and Loss  and, coming in August 2023, Things Have Changed: What Every Parent (and Educator) Should Know About the Student Mental Health, Substance Misuse Crisis, both by David Magee.

Dr. Melissa Powell is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP) at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC). She is married to Chris Powell, Executive Pastor at North Shore Fellowship, and the mother of two children. An old dog, a good book, a big salad, and a long walk are a few of her favorite things.

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