Charlton capitalised on Sunderland's defensive frailties to end a slump of five successive Premiership defeats with a 2-0 win at The Valley.
Darren Bent put Charlton ahead after Gary Breen and Nyron Nosworthy made a hash of clearing Danny Murphy's pass.
Darren Ambrose doubled the lead after more hapless Sunderland defending saw them fail to clear Luke Young's cross.
Dean Kiely saved from Justin Hoyte and Julio Arca as Sunderland slumped to a ninth successive Premiership defeat.
Charlton almost took the lead inside 45 seconds when Murphy fed Jerome Thomas, who slid the ball past Kelvin Davis only to see Steven Caldwell to clear off the line.
The home side were keen to use Thomas's pace from a five-man midfield and it needed another timely intervention from Caldwell as the Charlton winger burst into the box.
Arca was back from a two-month injury absence to add his vision and guile to Sunderland's midfield.
And the Argentine instigated a neat move which saw Dean Whitehead touch the ball off for Liam Lawrence, whose first-time shot was saved at full-stretch by Kiely.
Confidence was in short supply from two sides with long losing runs and there was little pattern or shape to the game in the first half.
Jerome Thomas is outnumbered by Liam Lawrence and Nyron Nosworthy
Sunderland were comfortably holding their own, only to gift Charlton the lead just before half-time with some hapless defending.
Murphy's forward ball was little more than hopeful, but Breen and Nosworthy both made a mess of their attempted clearance.
The ball squirted through to Bent, who finished from an acute angle for his ninth Premiership goal of the season.
Charlton were quickly out of the blocks for the second half in search of a potential game-killer and got their reward thanks to some more comedic defending.
Luke Young's low cross was played on to his own post by Caldwell who then, along with Arca and Breen, missed chances to clear to leave Ambrose with the task of turning the ball home from close range.
But it took Kiely to deny Sunderland an instant route back into the game with a superb save from Arca's shot after he had been picked out by half-time substitute Jonathan Stead.
Sunderland refused to buckle but failed to take the chances they created.
Stead curled an exquisite shot inches wide with Kiely groping, but the Charlton keeper was brave when he denied Justin Hoyte at the foot of the post.
Charlton boss Alan Curbishley:
"I make no apologies for bringing off some offensive players because we have been there before.
"I was determined at 2-0 that no matter how it looked or who I took off, we were not going to throw it away again.
"It was edgy for us because of what's happened in the last five weeks. The last half hour was not a pretty affair but we needed that result."
Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy:
"There wasn't a lot in the first half but then there was a comedy of errors for the second goal.
"It's not bad luck which has taken us to where we are, it's individual mistakes which have cost us.
"For most of the season we have played well in games but we have made too many mistakes and been punished."
Charlton: Kiely, Young, Perry, Hreidarsson, Powell, Kishishev, Thomas (El Karkouri 73), Murphy, Smertin (Hughes 67), Ambrose, Bent (Bartlett 76).
Subs Not Used: Rommedahl, Myhre.
Goals: Bent 42, Ambrose 49.
Sunderland: Davis, Nosworthy (Leadbitter 80), Breen, Caldwell, Hoyte, Lawrence, Whitehead, Bassila, Arca, Le Tallec (Stead 45), Gray.
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Collins, Woods.
Booked: Nosworthy, Caldwell.
Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).