“Addiction,” Counseling Resources (2020).

“Addiction,” Counseling Resources.


Addiction is a persistent dependence on a harmful behavior or substance. Addiction of any kind means surrendering to and becoming dependent on a substance or behavior. Addictions can lead to failure in fulfilling major obligations at work, school, or home. They can lead to deceit and justification of negative choices. Many of those who struggle with addictions feel intense despair and hopelessness.

Seek to Understand

Discussing addictions can be difficult, and people may feel vulnerable or embarrassed. As you talk with individuals, thank them for their courage in reaching out for help. Seek to show love and empathy as the Savior would.

Prayerfully consider asking questions like these or talking about the situation to help you better understand the person’s addiction and discern his or her needs.

  • Tell me about what is happening.

  • How did this problem begin?

  • What is the biggest challenge in overcoming this addiction?

  • What efforts have you made to overcome this challenge? What has helped so far?

  • How can the Lord help you overcome your addiction?

  • Who else is aware of this and what kind of support are they providing to you?

Help the Individual

As you help the person work to overcome this challenge, consider using some of the following suggestions. Make sure to always show love and care as you work together.

Help the person make a plan to avoid or address situations in which she or he is vulnerable to temptation. Review the plan with regularity.

Teach the person the doctrine of agency and help him or her understand that addictions do not change our eternal identity.

  • Teach that any addiction can be conquered through the Savior Jesus Christ because of His Atonement.

  • Help the person understand how the Savior can enable someone to overcome challenges.

  • Help the person see his or her identity as a child of God and recognize his or her own individual strengths, talents, and abilities.

Help the person identify the most common situations that increase temptation (such as situations that provoke thoughts and cravings related to the addiction).

  • Explore the feelings behind those situations (for example, feelings of being bored, lonely, angry, stressed, or tired).

  • Consider the where, when, and how of each potential situation.

Invite the member to attend a local Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) support group or other 12-step addiction recovery meeting.

Encourage the person to be open and honest about the addiction with her or his spouse, parents, or other family members.

Assist the member in seeking help from someone he or she trusts.

Support the Family

Addiction affects family members as well as the individual. As you talk with affected family members, make sure to show love and empathy as the Savior would. Determine the impact on the individual’s spouse or family and address those issues.

Start by helping the family members feel loved and heard. You might say, “This is a difficult situation to go through. How are you feeling?”

Explore any possible fear, worry, self-blaming, or lack of trust.

Invite the spouse or family members to study the principles in Support Guide: Help for Spouses and Family of Those in Recovery.

Invite family members to attend the Addiction Recovery Program spouse and family support group or a similar support group.

Help family members understand how the Savior can help them personally heal, regardless of whether their loved one overcomes the addiction (see Alma 7:11; Matthew 11:28–30).

Use Ward and Stake Resources

Consider asking ward leaders or other trusted individuals to provide continuing support, guidance, and assistance. Request the individual’s permission before discussing the situation with others.

The bishop may work with the individual to identify a trusted person to be a mentor for the individual and then encourage the two of them to set goals and make a plan to work together.

  • The mentor should be someone the person if comfortable with and ideally is someone who has overcome the same issue.

  • If the individual is a minor, the bishop should involve the parents when identifying a mentor.

Visit the Addiction Recovery Program website ( to find a local meeting for the person to attend. If none exists, consider contacting the stake president to request that one be started.

Identify local resources that provide services in harmony with gospel principles.

  • Resources may include professional counselors, treatment programs, and government agencies.

  • The person may also need additional medical help. Consider obtaining a professional assessment to determine the appropriate level of care.