The Church of Jesus Christ and Substance Addiction

May 11, 2023

It’s no secret that full and active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, historically referred to as Mormons or Latter-day Saints (LDS), live a sober lifestyle. That’s because the religion requires its adherents to live by a strict dietary code – the Word of Wisdom – that encourages healthy eating (e.g., fruits, grains, vegetables, and proteins) and prohibits the use of any harmful or addictive substances, such as drugs, alcohol, coffee, tea, or nicotine.

But we’re all human, regardless of what religion (or non-religion) we profess. We often make mistakes, get into trouble, and fall desperately short of the ideal person we hope to be. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ are no different, which is why Church leaders have sought to continually emphasize our dependence on Jesus Christ for the healing of all our ills, including the pain and suffering caused by substance abuse and addiction.

There is no more excellent example of spiritual and physical healing than in the life and mission of the Savior, Jesus Christ. And for someone locked away in the isolation of addiction, He represents the only way back to freedom and light.

While members of the Church recognize this truth, it wasn’t always put into practice. Those in the throes of substance abuse often felt they couldn’t confide in their ecclesiastical leaders for fear of being ostracized or punished. In addition, many well-meaning fellow parishioners felt ill-equipped to help because of misinformation, stereotypes, or a lack of understanding of the true nature of addiction.

The Church of Jesus Christ and Substance Addiction


The Addiction Recovery Program Is Born

That changed in the early 1990s after several congregations petitioned for a uniform plan to address substance abuse within the Church. After many years of research and testing, the Church of Jesus Christ introduced the workbook, “A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing,” in 2005 to complement its new “Healing Through the Savior” addiction support meetings.

The Church’s recovery program workbook is patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 Steps and was designed by former addicts now in recovery. In it, you will find each of the 12 Steps adapted to the teachings and beliefs of the restored Church of Jesus Christ and helpful scriptural passages and questions to promote discussion and personal introspection. Like the AA, each step or section also contains essential action items for the person to complete while working through the program.

While the Church views substance use as sinful, it follows the doctrine and example of Jesus Christ in addressing the issue with love and forgiveness. Boyd K. Packer, a former senior apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ, explained it this way: “The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened if we truly repent, [the Savior] has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that. … The Atonement … can wash clean every stain no matter how difficult or how long or how many times repeated.”

Why Renaissance Ranch Identifies as an LDS Drug Treatment Center

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comprise a significant portion of the populations of Utah and Idaho, where Renaissance Ranch facilities are located. But that is not the only reason the all-male substance abuse rehab bases its recovery model on Christian tenets taught by the Church.

Research shows that Christian and other faith-based recovery programs have a better track record of helping people achieve and maintain long-term sobriety,” said Preston Dixon, Renaissance’s COO. “This is the religious background many of our patients and staff are familiar with, but we have found that these general principles apply in most Christian, and even some non-Christian, faith environments.”

The Ranch also doesn’t rely on faith alone. It pairs religious beliefs with a strong foundation in up-to-date clinical treatment modalities. “We chose this combination because it works,” explained Dixon. “By connecting our patients to Christ, we help them better understand how much God loves them and wants them to succeed. This spiritual knowledge, in turn, strengthens their resolve to do the hard work of recovery therapy and treatment.”

He continued, “I believe that many people keep using substances because they can’t forgive themselves for things they have done. Knowing and understanding that a higher power accepts and loves us where we’re at allows us to take the necessary steps in the repentance and forgiveness process.”

To reach those who continue to struggle with substance abuse, the Ranch has put together a video series with personal stories for each of the 12 Steps. As each person talks about their addiction experience, it’s obvious how their faith in a higher power has developed and carried them through their recovery journey.

If you want to learn more about our faith-based recovery programs in Utah and elsewhere, call us at 855-736-7262.