How the Addiction Recovery Program is helping people find Christ and connection

Karen’s struggle with addiction first began when she was working as a nurse and going to graduate school. “I also had a miscarriage, and after the miscarriage, I was given a prescription for narcotic pain medication, and that’s the first time I realized that these drugs helped me feel better in my mind as well as for pain,” she said.

Karen spiraled into addiction and began stealing narcotics from work. When she was caught and lost her job, Karen started her journey to recovery. During this journey, she attended meetings with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Addiction Recovery Program.

“The addiction recovery meetings were probably the most important thing in my recovery,” Karen said. “As I sat there and heard the stories of other people — there were other good, good people who had struggled with addiction, and hearing their stories and seeing their successes gave me hope that I could get better too.” 

“As I went to meetings regularly, I felt the power of healing take over,” she continued. “I’m a totally different person today than I was when this happened. Because of Jesus Christ, I know that I don’t have to be defined by what I did back then and that I am a good person. I have felt His love. I have felt Him come into my life and change who I am.”

The Addiction Recovery Program helps those interested in working toward overcoming addiction or compulsive behavior have hope that recovery is possible, even during a pandemic. 

“On the other side of addiction, there is hope and healing and happiness,” said Karen. “I’m really grateful that I have had this experience because it has brought me this relationship with Jesus Christ that I never thought possible.” 

What is the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program? 

The Church’s Addiction Recovery Program provides support and a safe place for anyone working to overcome an addiction or compulsive behavior. The program is made up of support groups that follow a 12-step approach with a gospel framework.

Each group is made up of participants working toward recovery and service missionaries and facilitators who have found recovery and healing through the Addiction Recovery Program themselves. There are separate groups for those struggling with general addictions and pornography use. There are also support groups for spouses and family members to attend.   

Each Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) group is made up of participants working toward recovery, ARP service missionaries and facilitators who have found recovery and healing through the Addiction Recovery Program themselves. (Note: This photo was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
Each Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) group is made up of participants working toward recovery, ARP service missionaries and facilitators who have found recovery and healing through the Addiction Recovery Program themselves. (Note: This photo was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.) Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“In society and especially in the Church there is so much shame and stigma around addictive and compulsive behaviors. Consequently, people suffer in silence, and it breaks my heart,” said Ben Erwin, a Family Services therapist and the Addiction Recovery Program manager.

“The Addiction Recovery Program provides a safe place where anyone can find acceptance, compassion, help, support, truth and healing. When you walk into an addiction recovery program meeting, people don’t judge, stare, cast a glance — they warmly welcome you. They’re so glad you came. And they’ll invite you to keep coming back,” he said.

Find a virtual or in-person meeting  

Every week, around 2,800 Addiction Recovery Program meetings are held in 30 different countries and 17 different languages. These meetings happen in person but also virtually.

“Traditionally, we’ve met in person, but through COVID, we’ve grown and expanded online meetings where people can join via Zoom,” said Erwin.

Virtual meetings have been a necessity during the pandemic, but they also bring many benefits. If there isn’t a meeting in one’s area, they can join a meeting in a different city. If they feel more comfortable joining anonymously, they can do that virtually. 

“Virtual meetings give people an extra opportunity to take the first step,” said Erwin. “The first meeting is always the scariest, it’s always the hardest — but if you have a little bit of faith, you can join a call. You don’t have to say your real name. You can just go sit and participate and listen and observe and feel the Spirit. I would invite anyone who’s interested to just anonymously attend a meeting. Come and see for yourself.”

Every week, around 2,800 ARP meetings are held in 30 different countries and 17 different languages. These meetings happen in person and virtually. (Note: This photo was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
Every week, around 2,800 ARP meetings are held in 30 different countries and 17 different languages. These meetings happen in person and virtually. (Note: This photo was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.) Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Finding Strength in the Lord

The Church’s Addiction Recovery Program is about supporting and connecting with each other in overcoming addiction, but it’s also about connecting with the Savior Jesus Christ. He is the source of healing. 

“The Savior is keenly aware of all of our trials and struggles,” said Erwin. “When we gather to support each other in overcoming this challenge through Him, my experience is that He is there with us.” 

Visit addictionrecovery.ChurchofJesusChrist.org to find a virtual or in-person meeting. The website also includes stories of hope, videos and support group guides. Podcasts of recorded meetings are available for those interested in learning what a meeting is like.