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Addiction Recovery: Possible through Christ


“Addiction Recovery: Possible through Christ,” Liahona, June 2022.

Addiction Recovery: Possible through Christ

The Church’s addiction recovery program is about supporting and connecting with each other in overcoming addiction, but most importantly it’s about connecting with the Savior.

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Counseling therapy session

Photograph from Getty Images

We each struggle with our own personal challenges. For many, addictive or compulsive behaviors may be one of these trials. We don’t always talk openly about addiction or compulsive behaviors in society and especially in the Church. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you may feel shame or embarrassment or be worried about judgment from others.

If you are struggling with an addiction, you may feel that you are broken or a bad person. This challenge can feel overwhelming, embarrassing, or insurmountable. However, none of our actions can change our value in God’s eyes. We are all of infinite worth. And you are not alone in your trials. All things, including recovery from addiction, are possible through Christ. This is also true for those who may struggle with the pain or consequences of the actions of another. President M. Russell Ballard has taught:

“For those of you who have fallen prey to any kind of addiction, there is hope because God loves all of His children and because the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ makes all things possible.

“I have seen the marvelous blessing of recovery that can set one free from the chains of addiction. The Lord is our Shepherd, and we shall not want as we trust in the power of the Atonement. I know the Lord can and will free the addicted from their bondage, for as the Apostle Paul proclaimed, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’ (Philippians 4:13).”1

Connecting with Jesus Christ and with Others

A variety of treatments for addictive behaviors exist. The addiction recovery program (ARP) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a path to healing that provides a safe and supportive place for anyone working to overcome addictive or compulsive behaviors. The program consists of in-person or online support groups that follow a 12-step approach with a gospel framework. Each group is made up of participants working toward recovery, ARP service missionaries, and facilitators who have found recovery and healing through the addiction recovery program themselves.

There are two types of addiction-recovery meetings: (1) meetings focused on general addictions and (2) meetings focused on overcoming pornography use. There are also support groups for spouses and family members to attend.

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Beside Still Waters

Beside Still Waters, by Simon Dewey

The addiction recovery program is about supporting and connecting with each other in overcoming addiction, but most importantly it’s about connecting with the Savior, Jesus Christ. He wants to help us in our trials, and He is the source of healing.

How to Find a Meeting

Every week, around 2,800 ARP meetings are held in 30 different countries and 17 different languages. If you’d like to find a meeting, visit addictionrecovery.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. These meetings happen in person and online. If there are no meetings in your area or if you feel more comfortable attending virtually, you can join an online or phone meeting. You can also ask your Church leaders if an in-person meeting can be arranged in your area.

At ARP groups, there is no pressure to participate more than you would like to. You can start by attending a meeting and simply observing, listening to others, and feeling the Spirit.

Here are three experiences from people who have attended the addiction recovery program: one who attended for herself, one who is now a facilitator, and one who attended to support a friend (this last story is available in the digital version of this article).

Dorinda’s Experience Overcoming Alcoholism

Name has been changed.

I began to drink at a young age. In the country where I lived, that was socially accepted, and I felt pressure to drink to be accepted.

After I got married, my husband and I became submerged in alcoholism. This truly worried my parents. Even after my husband and I had our first child, our addiction to alcohol did not stop.

Soon after the birth of our child, I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I stopped drinking and started making progress to overcome my addiction. These changes irritated my husband, and he was upset that I would not drink and party with him.

After much prayer and fasting, seeking to determine the will of the Lord, I left my husband and moved to the United States. As I strived to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, I was able to overcome my alcoholism, but I still struggled to manage my anxiety and feelings of desperation. I eventually got remarried to a fellow Church member, but I continued to struggle.

I was invited to an addiction recovery program group by a sister at church. I have no doubt that Heavenly Father is mindful of me because what I learned there was specifically for me. We discussed how the feeling of isolation is a common element for those who have experienced addiction. This isolation was something that I had imposed on myself and struggled with.

Through the addiction recovery program, I realized that I do not have to live isolated from God and others. I have the strength and the faith to face challenges and overcome them.

Now I know that I am not alone. I still attend the group meetings, and sometimes my husband attends the group meetings with me. There are people from everywhere at the online meetings, and we learn from each other’s experiences and offer support to each other. My bishop, my husband, and my children also know that I need their support.

Most of all, I know that it is through the Atonement of Christ that I can overcome my addiction.

Ashly’s Experience Overcoming Drug Addiction

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Ashly’s family in 2021

Photograph by Lori Romney Photography

I didn’t realize the safety the gospel of Jesus Christ provided me until I gave up my agency to addiction. I started drinking and smoking weed at age 14. When I was 16, I spent 15 months in a lockdown adolescent facility. When I left, I relapsed. I was stealing to get money for drugs, and I had limited contact with my family. At one point I lived with a family who were all dealing and doing drugs. My situation was dark and scary. I was as low as you can get. By the time I was 19, I was addicted to heroin.

For a long time, I didn’t think I had it in me to achieve long-term sobriety or live a life of peace or fulfillment. Nevertheless, I saw God’s hand in my life in small miracles, like finding a Book of Mormon bookmark in an old Bible or having my dad’s unending love and support. Through these small messages, I heard the Lord’s voice.

I got sober from heroin and decided to “experiment” and see what would happen if I did everything God asked me to do (see Alma 32:27). I decided that if keeping the commandments made me happy, I would stay sober. Quitting cigarettes and coffee and going through the repentance process was tough. But I felt different after I did. I started to feel safe.

Throughout my years of addiction, I attended meetings of the Church’s addiction recovery program. I even met my future husband at one of the meetings. Each time I attended, I was welcomed with open arms. It was a safe place for me. During one meeting, a man offered to say a special prayer for me. That night I felt Heavenly Father’s love for me. I felt worthy of being clean. I got sober one month later.

For almost five years now, I have been a facilitator in the addiction recovery program. My favorite part about the meetings is that you can see and experience the gospel of Jesus Christ at work. There are no feelings of comparing yourself with others or concerns about being accepted. People are there because they need God. And they are willing to set pride aside to feel His peace.

These meetings are one of the places that I have felt the Spirit the most in my life. The meetings are a place of love, support, and hope. They are a place of safety where pain and problems are shared and where we truly can help bear each other’s burdens.

I feel that when people are early in recovery, God is so present in their lives. Small miracles and tender mercies happen regularly, and I believe that they are little nudges from God to keep these people going in the right direction.

It has been an honor for me to be able to use my experience with addiction and getting clean to give hope to those who still struggle. If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I would choose to follow the counsel of our Church leaders. I would choose not to try drugs or alcohol. But I know that the Lord can work all things to the good of those who love Him. I know that is what has happened for me. I have been able to turn my heartache and pain into a message of hope.

Rachel’s Experience Supporting a Friend

When a guy I was dating opened up to me about his addiction to pornography, the first thing I said was, “How can I help?”

He replied, “Come with me to the addiction-recovery meetings. There is a support group for family and friends that you can attend.”

I knew about the 12-step addiction recovery program, but I had no idea there were support groups. I was a little hesitant at first, but I reminded myself that I had asked him how I could help, and this was what he asked of me.

During the first meeting, I took a deep breath and walked to the room where the support group was meeting. When I entered the room, I felt ready to learn how I could save my boyfriend from his addiction.

But I was surprised at what I discovered.

They handed me a book, Support Guide: Help for Spouses and Family of Those in Recovery, and we read aloud from the book during each class.

Not once did I learn how I could save my boyfriend.

Instead, the support guide’s 12 lessons showed me that before I could support anyone else, I first needed to lay down my burdens at the Lord’s feet and allow Him to heal me (see 3 Nephi 9:13)—to heal me from my own faults and struggles and to bear my pain of supporting a loved one recovering from addiction.

I realized that I needed to rely on and turn to the Savior to find peace, hope, and strength. And because of that, I feel much better equipped in being able to support others who face addictive or compulsive behaviors.

“Our priority must be to personally draw closer to the Lord,” the support guide says. “… This will place us in a better position to support our loved ones. No matter what they may choose to do, the peace and hope of the Savior can be with us” (Support Guide: Help for Spouses and Family of Those in Recovery [2017], iii).

As I continued to attend the course, I learned how much the Savior loves me and how He truly knows my situation. I also learned how no addiction will ever alter how much He loves any one of Heavenly Father’s children.

But I think the most important lesson I learned while attending the support group is I can’t save my boyfriend (or anyone else). Only Jesus Christ can. Through His atoning sacrifice, He has the power to save.

I’m extremely grateful that He is our Savior, for He knows how to perfectly succor us (see Alma 7:11–12). As we trust in His grace, I know that we will receive what is necessary for our personal healing. We will be buoyed up by Him and will be more able to support our loved ones who face addictions.

Because of the support group and ARP classes, my boyfriend felt comfortable telling me when he felt triggered because he knew I wasn’t there to judge but to love and support him in his efforts. His journey of struggle is not over yet, but I saw the improvement and change that the principles from these classes made in both of our lives. And I felt the hand of the Lord continually.