The vast majority (90%) of those struggling with addiction don’t receive any treatment for their illness. One of the major barriers between addicts and treatment is the social stigmas surrounding the disease. The ideas that addiction is a choice, that addicts are morally deficient in some way, and that they deserve to be in the position they’re in are all not only false, they’re very hurtful to the recovery process of addicts around the world. Taking a Christlike view of addiction is the way to promote healing, but what exactly does that mean?
Charity and Kindness
Kindness is a Christlike attribute that is about more than just being nice to other people. It’s about holding love for others in our hearts, no matter what the situation entails. In his 2005 General Conference Address,
Even though the behavior and shortcomings of an addict can be viewed as sinful, this doesn’t give us an excuse to withhold kindness. In fact, it is expected of us to increase our kindness towards those afflicted by this disease, so that they can have support as they make their way through their recovery process. Elder Wirthlin points out how added kindness towards an addict can promote their recovery when he says, “Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes.”
The Universal Power of the Atonement
The most damaging opinion we can hold of an addict is that they are too far gone, that they are beyond the influence of help. If you are struggling with addiction, you may be thinking this as you read this article. We must remember during these discouraging times that the Atonement applies to every person on this earth, and that no one is beyond the influence of its healing power. There is no sin that can’t be overcome through the power of the Atonement, which means that everyone is a candidate for forgiveness. Heavenly Father will not only heal the heart and soul of the addict, he will forgive them of their sins as they apply the Atonement to their lives. The same forgiveness is expected of all of us in forgiving others and forgiving ourselves.
Reserving Judgement and Extending Love
Luke 6:37 asks us that we, “Judge not, and ye shall be not judged.” Opening ourselves up to forgiveness of those who have hurt us through their addiction allows us to be forgiven of our own brands of sin. As we all work together for improvement with a spirit of mutual love and support, we can lift up our loved ones in recovery, and overcome our own shortcomings.
Elder Wirthlin reminds us, “The Church is not a place where prefect people gather to say perfect things, or to have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. The Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father.” This model of extended love and fellowship can be applied to our own homes and communities as well, as we strive to overcome addiction through increased love and support.