Tuesday, June 28

Addiction Recovery Program

I went to an addiction recovery program meeting. My first one for me. I've been a couple times in the past - helping to support others in their addictions - but never for myself. Never for real.

The Addiction Recovery Program is based on AA - Alcoholics Anonymous - and is run by senior missionaries for the Church. At its core, the program is simple: weekly anonymous support meetings for those looking for healing, help, and hope. It follows 12 steps, just like AA, but approaches the addiction recovery process from a gospel perspective that takes advantage of a relationship with God and Church support.

But it's more than that. It's an opportunity to be open, honest, and candid with others who get it. It's an opportunity to listen to the miracles that happen in the lives of other people and to see the hand of God touch them. To get help. To feel belonging.

I was stressed about which meeting to choose. Going to the church website for addiction recovery program meetings (https://addictionrecovery.churchofjesuschrist.org/?lang=eng) was overwhelming. There are roughly 6 types of weekly meetings:
  1. For both men and women
  2. For men
  3. For women
  4. For family members
  5. For men, specifically for pornography
  6. For women, specifically for pornography

I found one for men & pornography at a time and place not far from where I live. I didn't know what to expect, so I emailed the coordinator and he gave me some basic directions. Introduce yourself with just your first name, don't feel obligated to say anything.

I got there a few minutes early and waited in my car. The room was changed, but easy to find... so I was the first one there. 

Meetings are built on both anonymity and trust - something I want and understand, so I'm definitely not going to go into detail about people or the things they shared. 

But my personal experience hit me.

We had an opportunity to share something positive in our lives - a tender mercy - if we wanted to. We read the 12 steps, then read the details of one specific step a paragraph at a time. Some people shared their thoughts on the step itself. Then we moved into the sharing portion, where we had the opportunity to share our own experiences.

And this is where it hit me.


Hey. My name is David.

The other guys: "Hey David."

I'm a recovering addict, from X.
This is day ###.

(Claps from the other guys)

And then I was able to honestly talk about me. My life. My issues this past week. The up, the down, the places I saw God and the places I struggled. Without fear of anyone thinking I was weird. Without fear of someone getting angry because I hadn't shared before. Just simple acceptance from a group of strangers who will be there next week to cheer me on.

Thanks I'm David

"Thanks David"

I didn't know what to say about my addictions. I wasn't really sure of the definitions, or the days, and to be honest I felt inadequate and alone.

I didn't know anyone. I wasn't sure of myself. But as I listened and watched and felt, I felt something there in that room that has only rarely happened before.

I felt like I belonged.

Here's a handful of guys who want God in their lives. Who are willing to own up to their inadequacies and sometimes talk about them. Who have their own lives, their own struggles, their own motivation, but once a week they come together into a room and bare a piece of their souls, "This is Day 1," or like the guy who did a 5th Sunday Meeting in my ward, "This is day 3000 and something."

There was something powerful there. A sense of camaraderie, a sense of hope, and the simple presence of God there reminding us all that He cares. It's the feeling I've always craved from Elder's Quorum and other meetings. 

Complete safety. Complete belonging. Completely someplace ok for me to be me.

I don't know anyone in the group. And anything they said, like most everything people say thanks to autism, disappears from my memory overnight. But there is something powerful about the fact that I can come again a week later, and see some of the same faces. Listen again to their lives, applaud the hope they have for themselves, be there for them and them for me. I find myself hoping that all of us will be able to add more days to our counts and wanting to keep them in my prayers.

They'll probably never read this. But thanks guys, for being there for me.

And to any of you here at (G)MG. Anyone who has ever lived with addiction - whether it's pornography or sex or video games or anything at all, far in the past or still in the present - I'll make a rare invitation.

Try it.

You don't have to be a member of the Church. You don't have to be a faithful member of the Church. You don't have to commit to going every week. You don't have to say anything at all. 

But try it.

Look up a meeting online. Find one close to you, or find one that offers videoing in if that isn't possible (I saw some offered that). Email the coordinator if you're stressed about it. Download the Addiction Recovery Program manual on the Gospel Library app, or get one for a couple dollars at a distribution center. Go, for yourself, and really be present.

And hopefully, your experience will be like mine... and you'll find a place where you can be yourself, surrounded by people who can support you week after week, in a place where God resides.

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