12 Steps to Change

    Step 9: Restitution and Reconciliation - John’s Story on Drug Addiction Recovery

    Step 9

    John's story about drug addiction using the 12 step program.6:00

    John was leading a double life, but soon his drug addiction took over everything else. In the space of two years, he lost his job, his house, and his family. When he finally faced the damaged he had caused in his life and the lives of those he loved, he wondered if there was any hope for the future. Because God helped him make amends, there was.

    Step 9 - Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.

    Those who face addictions often struggle with the consequences of their choices for many years, sometimes for their whole lives. The outcomes that are portrayed in this video series do not reflect the possible range of outcomes that may be experienced by others. If you or someone you love is experiencing these challenges, or would like more information about addiction recovery, please visit addictionrecovery.lds.org.


      I needed these pain pills in order to go to my work meetings, to my Church meetings, to my family outings. Big lie. But that's how it all starts. I was in an actual position in the Church where I led this congregation of Spanish-speaking people in Los Angeles. And therein is the challenge in this disease, that you live these two lives.

      And since I can't find pharmaceuticals that day, I decided to use marijuana. My oldest daughter drives by and sees me. "Maybe she didn't see me. Maybe she didn't recognize me and I could get away with this, because that's what I do." She knew exactly. She confronts me and says, "Dad, you need help."

      She had to get some freedom from the chaos and what addiction brings in a home setting. And she did that. Regardless of how much we love people, regardless how much we think we love God, we simply lie and cheat so that we can feel in that zone.

      Over a period of two years, I began to use crack cocaine daily. I had lost my job. The house that I had built with my family was in foreclosure, and my family had left. My daughter, she met her future husband. They were married. They asked me not to come. And I was devastated.

      I was literally trying to numb myself to deal with the fact that my wife and children had left me because of my addiction. I simply found ways and means to get and to use more. So I used a woman who was a prostitute. She traveled with me a lot.

      I definitely had an interest in where she could get dough. The police in my community had watched me visit the different places geographically, and they knew that I was a user. I remember the lights coming on, and I remember almost a relief coming over me that "Maybe, maybe somehow, in a weird way, maybe I'm done. Maybe."

      They found what they came for, and I was put in jail. I began to be lifted from this addiction. Now, the challenge in recovery with families that have been destroyed is, your family--since they were gone and I was divorced--doesn't get to come with you through your recovery. They still connect with you as an addict

      and with all the bad behavior that comes from being in addiction.

      Step 9 says, "Make direct amends wherever possible." And I knew that I needed to sit down and be there so that anybody in my family, my former spouse or my children, could tell me what they really thought. For an hour at a time, week after week for months, we sat in that room and I heard about who I was.

      And the days were hard. I wept. I looked at the wreckage. And I didn't know if all of this process, the prior six months of counseling and trying to come back together and making amends, would actually work. My current spouse admonished me to reach out to her again, that maybe this time we would actually, maybe reunite as a family and start to see the healing actually take place. And for the first time, I was able to see the grandchildren and a daughter who I had shunned, literally shunned, because of my disease and my behavior. In working this ninth step of making amends, a new life has been given to me in that I understand now what God means when He says He's merciful.