Dawn Taylor knows what it’s like to hit rock bottom.
“I was in a bad place,” she admits. That was twenty years ago, when, in the throes of addiction, she fought to reclaim her life through the gospel.
So when the small auxiliary room set aside for Thursday night addiction recovery meetings starts to fill with people—broken people, struggling people—Sister Taylor, an Addiction Recovery Program facilitator for the Goodyear Stake, understands.
“It is a blessing to sit at the Savior’s feet and attempt to help an individual come unto Christ….as I continue to grow in my relationship with Him, I grow closer to my brothers and sisters that so desperately look for hope,” she says.
Sister Taylor has been a part of the Addiction Recovery Program for the past three years. Tonight, she is opening with a personal story about choices.
“When despair comes,” Sister Taylor tells the group, “you can either behave like an addict or behave like a son or daughter of God. That choice is eventually tangible. It may not seem like it now,” she says, “but it is.”
She cites the Boyd K. Packer talk “The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness”: “You have to ask yourself,” she continues, “‘do I believe He can heal me?’”
Slowly, heads nod. Eyes bright with tears search through scriptures and conference talks to find something they haven’t seen in a while—hope.
Elder Cory Webster and his wife Mary have served as service missionaries alongside Sister Taylor in the Goodyear Stake’s Addiction Recovery Program for almost one year.
“Our understanding of addiction has been greatly affected,” says Elder Webster. “We have learned more deeply what it means to rely on the Lord.”
The Church’s Addiction Recovery Program integrates gospel principles into the concept instigated by Alcoholics Anonymous. Their original twelve-step plan has been modified over the years to address a range of compulsive and harmful behaviors including gambling, drug and alcohol dependence, pornography and food addictions, among others.
The Church program was adapted through LDS Family Services a few years ago and now spans over 20 countries. The accompanying workbook, “Addiction Recovery Program: A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing,” is available for download on the Addiction Recovery Program website.
The focal point of the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program is not only the healing of the addict’s body, but the addict’s mind and spirit. By utilizing the Atonement and working through the twelve steps (which include honesty, hope, trust in God, truth, confession, change of heart, humility, seeking forgiveness, restitution and reconciliation, daily accountability, personal revelation and service), participants meet together or over the phone to overcome their challenges. Special support for spouses, other family and friends of addicts is also available on the website.
A video series released in 2015 outlines the twelve steps, personalizing addiction as members tell their own stories of overcoming dependence. The videos, called “brutally honest” by the Huffington Post and “gritty” by Deseret News, depict the addict’s world unflinchingly, showing both the agony of hopelessness and the joy of redemption.
That joy that keeps the Websters coming back every week.
“It is hard to put into words the sacred, honest feelings and the strong presence of the Lord’s spirit that is present during the meeting each week,” says Elder Webster. “Each week we stand in awe as so many people who seek with small and great faith turn their lives over to the care of our Heavenly Father and His Son to be healed.”
Visit https://addictionrecovery.lds.org/ for more information about the Addiction Recovery Program.