Whether you yourself struggle with addiction or associate with someone who does, this guide can be a blessing in your life. The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have been adapted into a framework of the doctrines, principles, and beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are presented in this guide as key principles at the beginning of each section. This guide will help you learn how to apply these key principles; they can change your life.
This guide is intended to be a workbook and refer- ence for those attending addiction recovery support groups sponsored by LDS Family Services. However, the doctrines and principles that are taught could also be of great benefit to those who live where participation in a support group is not feasible. This guide can be used by people seeking to change their lives and especially by those willing to work one-on-one with a bishop or a professional counselor.
Men and women who have suffered the devastating effects of various addictions and have experienced re- covery were invited by LDS Family Services to share their experiences in applying these principles in their lives. Their point of view (the “we” in this guide) is used to convey the anguish of addiction and the joy of healing and recovery. You may find comfort, sup- port, and a common bond with them.
Church leaders and counseling professionals have also been involved in writing and developing this guide. The combined wisdom and experience of these many authors stands as yet another witness of the reality of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the possibility of recovery from addiction.
We have known great sorrow, but we have seen the power of the Savior turn our most devastating defeats into glorious spiritual victories. We who once lived with daily depression, anxiety, fear, and debilitating anger now experience joy and peace. We have witnessed miracles in our own lives and in the lives of others who were ensnared in addiction.
We have paid an awful price in self-inflicted pain and suffering because of our addictions. But blessings have poured forth as we have taken each step to recovery. Having had a spiritual awakening, we strive every day to improve our relationship with Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we are healed.
We invite you with all our empathy and love to join us in a glorious life of freedom and safety, encircled in the arms of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. We know by our own experience that you can break free from the chains of addiction. No matter how lost and hopeless you may feel, you are the child of a loving Heavenly Father. If you have been blind to this truth, the principles explained in this guide will help you rediscover it and establish it deep in your heart. These principles can help you come unto Christ and allow Him to change you. As you apply the principles, you will draw on the power of the Atonement and the Lord will free you from bondage.
Some people consider addictions to be simply bad habits that can be conquered by willpower alone, but many people become so dependent on a behavior or a substance that they no longer see how to abstain from it. They lose perspective and a sense of other priorities in their lives. Nothing matters more than satisfying their desperate need. When they try to abstain, they experience powerful physical, psychological, and emotional cravings. As they habitually make wrong choices, they find their ability to choose the right diminished or restricted. As President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “Addiction has the capacity to disconnect the human will and nullify moral agency. It can rob one of the power to decide” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 16; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 14).
Addictions can include the use of substances such as tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, and drugs (both prescription and illegal), and behaviors such as gambling, codependency, viewing pornography, inappropriate sexual behavior, and disorders associated with eating. These substances and behaviors diminish a person’s ability to feel the Spirit. They harm physical and mental health and social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve taught: “We should avoid any behavior that is addictive. Whatever is addictive compromises our will. Subjecting our will to the overbearing impulses imposed by any form of addiction serves Satan’s purposes and subverts our Heavenly Father’s. This applies to addictions to drugs (such as narcotics, alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine), addiction to practices such as gambling, and any other addictive behavior. We can avoid addictions by keeping the commandments of God” (“Free Agency and Freedom,” Brigham Young University 1987–88 Devotional and Fireside Speeches , 45).
By being humble and honest and calling upon God and others for help, you can overcome your addictions through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Just as we have recovered, you can recover and enjoy all the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you suspect you are addicted and if you feel even the smallest desire to break free, we invite you to join us in studying and applying the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ as they are taught in this guide. We assure you that if you follow this path with a sincere heart, you will find the power you need to recover from addiction. As you apply each of these twelve principles faithfully, the Savior will strengthen you and you will come to “know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).