Nowhere is there a more excellent example of the miracle of physical and spiritual healing than in the life of the Savior, Jesus Christ. He taught us to love more deeply, forgive more quickly, and serve more earnestly. For someone whose life has been plunged into the murky depths of substance abuse, Christ represents the ultimate way out of the abyss.
With that in mind, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created an addiction recovery program (ARP) centered on Christ and how a person can achieve healing and renewal through him. The Church began developing the initiative in the early 1990s after various congregational leaders expressed the desire to have a uniform plan to address substance abuse among its members.
After years of extensive research, Church officials published “A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing” in 2005. The workbook was written by people in recovery and is an adaptation of AA’s 12 steps. It focuses specifically on the teachings and beliefs of the restored Church of Jesus Christ in relation to addiction and the healing power of the Lord. While the ARP facilitators are not professional counselors, they have gone through recovery themselves and serve as powerful peer mentors.
It’s important to understand that much like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, the Church of Jesus Christ’s program represents only one of many different tools available in addiction recovery. The group’s primary purpose is to provide support, not treatment. Depending on the severity of your addiction, you may need to enlist the help of an accredited substance abuse center.
Although the Church’s program began as a way to help members struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) and other forms of addiction, these support groups are free and open to everyone, regardless of their faith or beliefs. Today there are a few thousand ARP groups located in 30 countries worldwide. In addition, some faith-based drug rehabs like Renaissance Ranch also use the Church’s ARP as a central component in their treatment process.
“We have found that using a 12-Step program based on the gospel principles espoused by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints works extremely well with our other evidence-based therapies,” said Preston Dixon, COO at Renaissance. “The recovery journey is so much more than substance withdrawal and conquering cravings,” he continued. “It’s about connecting them to Christ, so they realize their lives have purpose and that they are worth redemption.”
What to Expect In an ARP Meeting
So how does the Church’s addiction recovery program work? Let’s take a closer look at what you might experience at a typical meeting:
Safety and Confidentiality
Every ARP meeting is designed to be a safe space for people to support one another without judgment. These gatherings can be men-only, women-only, or co-ed, as determined by the needs of the participants. Only first names are used to protect the anonymity of each group member. As the AA’s 12th tradition states, “The assurance of anonymity is essential to our efforts … [and] reminds us that AA principles come before personalities.”
A typical weekly meeting will begin with a prayer, after which the facilitator will read the ARP mission statement and introduce the 12 Steps of recovery listed in the guide. Each week, participants will focus on one step, going in order from 1 to 12. They are encouraged but not obligated to read aloud from the workbook together for that step.
The final portion of the meeting allows people to share their experiences from the previous week if they feel comfortable doing so. Discussion and sharing should focus on how to apply gospel principles and not include graphic details of their addiction.
The content of the Church’s addiction recovery program focuses the participants on emulating Christlike attributes while going through the 12 steps. For example, in Step 8, we are asked to list those we have harmed and prepare to make restitution. One critical aspect of seeking forgiveness is developing humility. We cease to justify our actions while under the influence of our addiction and admit our sincere regret and desire to make amends to others.
After a detailed explanation of each step, the ARP book outlines different suggested activities for the attendee to do as ‘homework.’ These activities include studying scripture and the words of modern-day prophets, approaching God through personal prayer, and journaling. As we do these things, we can develop qualities, such as humility and charity, that will help us act and think more like the Savior.
While the Church of Jesus Christ’s recovery curriculum relies on some principles that are unique to its doctrine, any Christian treatment center or support group can easily adapt it to their needs. For more information on this 12-Step program, please call 855-736-7262.