Tag Archives: Addiction

True Hunger

Are you hungry?  

What are you hungry for?

If you are like me, when you hear those questions you start going over a mental list of food options to decide which one will best satisfy your cravings.  Italian food? Chinese? Steak? Mac and cheese?  What sounds good?

However, I am beginning to realize how often I confuse physical hunger for something else entirely.  There are some feelings of emptiness that are only masked by food, and never fulfilled.

I was at a restaurant a few days ago and noticed there was a long list of dishes on the menu under the category “Comfort Foods”.   The mere fact that we have foods we eat to comfort us proves that we are expecting food to meet more of our needs that just physical hunger.  

I weighed well over a hundred pounds when I entered kindergarten at the age of 5 years old.  Obviously, there was some kind of emptiness I was trying to fill inside myself.  Some might argue there must have been some kind of emptiness inside my mother that she was trying to fill by overfeeding her infant.   (Either opinion works well as an illustration for this discussion, so don’t get sidetracked by finger-pointing.)  My parents had attempted twice to adopt children before finally adopting me.   In both of those cases, the birth mother changed her mind and took the child back, leaving my mother devastated.  So when I came along, my parents were understandably afraid to get emotionally attached to me out of fear of being crushed again.  My grandmother once told me that when I was six months old she had to insist that my mother start bonding with me.  she told her, “If you knew that child was going to die in a few months, and you would only have him for a little while, you would cherish the time you had.  So you just have to love him, even if he won’t be with you forever.”

I have no idea if or how this early experience affected my adult attitudes or my relationship with my parents.   However, I can tell you a few things about myself that may or may not be related.   When I was a child, I was terrified to be alone.  If I woke up from a nap and found myself alone, I would scream in horror and go running through the house looking for someone.  I couldn’t even deal with the THOUGHT of someone being left alone.  If I was watching television and a character in the show was left alone, I had to stop watching.  Even when the Scooby Gang would split up to look for clues , I would panic and cry. 

Yeah, I was a mess.

But I outgrew that, thank goodness!  By the time I was in High School, I was a loner who preferred to avoid crowds.  In my 20’s I spent most of my time alone and loved going to see movies by myself.

Unfortunately, I am starting to understand that I never actually outgrew those feelings.  I simply learned how to medicate them.  I learned very early that food helped those feelings.  As I got older I found other substances and behaviors that could medicate my feelings of loneliness, fear, anger, frustration, and longing.  Eventually, I had so successfully masked those feelings that I didn’t even know they existed inside myself.   But if I tried to remove any of those “medications” from my life, those feelings would rear their ugly heads, and I couldn’t wait to stuff them back down with anything that would make me feel better.   These medications became my addictions and I found myself approaching my 40’s as a 485-pound alcoholic, pill-popping, sex-addict.  

And yet, no matter how much I tried to feed my hunger, I wasn’t satisfied.  I was like the example of the man in the scriptures:

…even as unto a hungry man which dreameth, and behold he eateth but he awaketh and his soul is empty; or like unto a thirsty man which dreameth, and behold he drinketh but he awaketh and behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; (2 Nephi 27:3)

My soul had appetite, but I didn’t even know what I was craving.  But whatever I was filling myself with, it wasn’t bringing me satisfaction.  At some point I had to do as Enos did and turn to the Lord.

And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens. (Enos 1:4)

The hardest part of the recovery process is becoming honest.  Honest with yourself and with others.  Addicts will do anything to avoid looking inside themselves to discover those issues they have been trying to run away from for so long.

When I find myself being drawn toward addictive behaviors, I have to stop and ask myself what it is I am actually craving.  It is amazing how difficult it is to admit when I am craving company, interaction, healthy touch, venting of anger, creative expression, sleep, stress relief, etc.

Most people think of addicts as selfish people who only care about their own short-term desires.  The truth is that many of them became addicts from ignoring their own needs.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

Addiction recovery is a process of discovering what it is that you truly crave.  What is your True Hunger?

So I ask for your honest input, no matter how difficult it maybe be.  Comment and tell me your experiences.

When you seek comfort food, or drink, or addictive behavior, what is the comfort you seek?  How do you find true satisfaction?  And what is your journey like?

 

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That Can’t Possibly Help My Addiction — Part Two — Positive Affirmations

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Preface:

Every once in a while, someone in a 12-step meeting will confidently testify of a treatment for addiction — something that changed their life and gives them power to get through another day.  My first reaction to these suggestions is almost always a cynical one.  Come on, it can’t be that simple!  However, I am learning to not discount the effectiveness of something just because it doesn’t make sense.   I started trying some of these crazy ideas and discovered that they actually worked!  I’ve decided to make a series of blog posts about a few of these counter-intuitive actions that make recovery a reality.

Positive Affirmations

ImageThe whole concept of trying to change your life by repeating positive statements about yourself seemed like a joke to me.  Admittedly, my opinion was probably shaped a great deal by Stuart Smalley, the effeminate Saturday Night Live character created by Al Franken in the 1990’s, who was a a member of many twelve-step groups and stands in front of the mirror in his powder blue sweater chanting, ” I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone It, people like me!

It all seemed so wimpy and New Age.  I could hardly even entertain the idea of actually trying it.  But then someone explained it to me in a way that rang true in my mind.  He pointed out the fact that almost since birth, everyone around me has told me what and who I am.  “You are adopted.”  “You are fat.”  “You suck at math.”  “Your handwriting is terrible.”  “You shouldn’t try that because people will laugh at you.”  “Nobody is as good a helper as you are.”  “You should stick with what you are good at.”

It didn’t take long before the YOU turned into an I and my inner voice was defined and my self-image took shape.  This wasn’t anything sinister or planned on the part of those other people.  It’s just a part of growing up.  And some of us are more susceptible than others to these external voices around us.

So doesn’t it make sense to keep reminding yourself of the person you want to be?  Shouldn’t we at least try to counter balance the external voices that have bombarded us on a daily basis since we were old enough to understand?  This is where positive affirmations come in.  And here is the amazing part:  They actually work!  And they start to work almost immediately!

So how do you make your own affirmations?  It’s not rocket science.  First, decide what areas of your life you want to improve.  In the case of addiction, you want to improve the parts of your life that LED to the addiction.  Get to the roots of the problem.  Remember, addiction is a symptom of other underlying issues.

Next, write out a few positive statements for each of the areas you want to work on. Your statements should be short, positive, and in the 1st person present tense.  And keep your list small — work on a few at a time.  Affirmations are most effective when they are few and repeated often.   Remember to focus on the goal, not where you are now.

For example, if you have a sexual addiction that developed because of your need to feel loved and accepted, your affirmation would not be, “I am not a sexual addict.”  It might look something like:

“I am more than enough.”  “I fully accept who I am.”  “Other people enjoy being around me.”

It’s that simple.   Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s prideful to make these statements about yourself.  These are worthy goals and eternal truths.  You are only helping yourself become convinced of their reality.

My list of affirmations changes and adapts.  I add affirmations and remove them, depending on my current need.  But but some of the more important ones, never leave the list.  My list of affirmations that don’t change are as follows:

I choose my behavior

I am a Child of God with infinite worth.

I am always taken care of.

God loves me and accepts me.

I am always more than enough.

The worth of my soul is great.

I now fully accept myself.

My body is now in perfect balance.

I am always healthy and strong.

Everything I touch prospers.

Other people feel their worth when they are in my presence.

Everything works together for my good.

I don’t fear, because God is protecting me.

I choose my actions based on long-term prosperity.

My Spirit and my Physical body are in tune and in perfect sync.

I enjoy physical activity

I eat only when my body needs nourishment.

Okay, okay, I am fully aware that I am not as far down the road of accomplishing some of these as I should be.  That’s why I they are on my list.  Some of them are simply factual statements that I need to be reminded of on a daily basis because I tend to forget them, and when I do, my life goes to hell.

So now that you have a few affirmations, how do you get them into your head?  There are many ways that people choose to do it.  Most of them aren’t something I could keep doing on a consistent basis.

1. Stand in front of a mirror and repeat the affirmations to yourself.  (Too much like Stuart Smalley.  I know myself well enough to know I wouldn’t do this.)

2. Write them down several times a day while repeating them in your mind.  (Way too much work for me.  I know I would give up after a couple of days.)

3. Subliminal recordings.  (I’m just not sold on this method for me.  I wanted something I could do myself and something that I could focus on with my conscious mind as well.)

I knew I needed a way to get these thoughts into my head without having to put in much daily effort.  That’s just me.

Years ago, I learned that classical music (especially Baroque music) stimulates the brain.  When I was in high school, I would sometimes play Handel while I studied for a test, in hopes that it would help the knowledge to sink into my brain.  I decided to use music to help me with my affirmations.

I simply recorded myself saying my affirmations clearly and slowly.  Then I looped them to repeat over and over again for 15 minutes.  Then I added a background of Bach and Handel.   So I have an MP3 that I can listen to each night as I fall asleep, because it’s believed that the human mind is most accepting of affirmations when it is at rest.  Sometimes I listen to it first thing in the morning, as well.  I also burned it onto a CD and sometimes I listen to it in the car.

I can tell a difference in my attitude, confidence, and choices when I listen do my affirmations on a regular basis.  It’s just another one of those wacky things that has to be tried to be understood.

Change your thinking and change yourself.

Below is a list of affirmations that I like.  Maybe they will inspire your own affirmations.  Good luck!

  • I feel God’s love for me each hour.
  • I trust him and I walk in confidence through life, knowing that he protects me.
  • I trust that everything that happens to me is for my good and long-term happiness.
  • My relationship with God is very trusting.
  • I know that He loves me and desires my happiness.
  • I am directed each day through the spirit as I seek His guidance in my life.
  • I clearly see and recognize God’s hand in my life as I take time to listen and be still.
  • It feels good receive promptings and be an instrument in the Hand of the Lord.
  • I feel peace and confidence knowing that God is with me each day.
  • My relationship with God grows as I have meaningful daily prayers and scripture study.
  • I talk with God as a friend and take time to listen for answers as I seek His guidance.
  • I feel uplifted, peaceful and strengthened after I pray.
  • I receive answers to my questions and inspiration for others as I search the scriptures.
  • I take time to apply what I read into my life.
  • I receive instructions from God continually for me and for those in my stewardship.
  • I live righteously enough to receive those messages when they come.
  • I see people’s lives blessed and my life blessed as well
  • I am always inspired in the council I give to others.
  • God puts me in the right place at the right time.
  • I ask God for what I need. He freely blesses me.
  • I know my prayers are heard.
  • I expect to receive inspiration
  • I take opportunities to ponder and meditate each day
  • I am still and know God
  • I experience now in this moment how it feels to have this connection
  • I see myself taking steps to connect with God
  • I am filled with his love
  • I see myself as God sees me
  • I am always aware of the help that surrounds me
  • I am a valiant son of God.
  • I have great faith in Jesus Christ.
  • My faith guides me every day.
  • I am calm and steady throughout my life, no matter what is going on around me.
  • I am an example to others.
  • I find joy in obeying the commandments.
  • I am confident with who I am, and how I live my life.
  • I have a kind and sensitive heart and genuine desire to help others in need.
  • I am creative.
  • God expects me to be a creator of things.
  • I am excited to try new things.
  • I experiment with new ideas and techniques.
  • I am artistic.
  • I love meeting new people and I am a friend to those around me.
  • I’m a positive person who looks for the good in everyone.
  • I respect myself.
  • I take care of my physical, emotional and spiritual needs so I am at my best
  • Others feel better about themselves and uplifted after being in my presence
  • I treat others with kindness and love.
  • I am calm and steady in the direction I’m going
  • All things work out for my good.
  • I connect with my higher self and learn from his wisdom.
  • My relationship with my wife, family and friends is one of love, respect and support.
  • People feel and know the love I have for them through my words and actions.
  • I have balanced relationships.
  • I give great service to others
  • I experience connection, camaraderie and fulfillment as I support them and they support me.
  • I contact my friends often.
  • I enjoy having friendships.
  • I am a supportive husband.
  • My wife’s callings are also mine.
  • I respect others for who they are.
  • I take time to savor my relationships.
  • I am a good listener.
  • I don’t try to “fix” other people or change them to suit my needs.
  • My outside reflects the inside.
  • I have an abundance of energy.
  • My body and mind are renewed each morning.
  • I enjoy starting my day by waking up early in the morning feeling rested and clear .
  • My body is in complete harmony physically, both inside and out.
  • I am in tune with my body.
  • My body tells me what kind of nutrition, exercise or rest it needs.
  • I take time to listen to my body.
  • I am attracted to the foods that help my body perform at a higher level.
  • I feel great!
  • I eat small meals, several times a day.
  • I eat when I am hungry.
  • My body is attracted to foods that serve me
  • I am always healthy and strong
  • My body is now in perfect balance
  • I experience myself doing the work of keeping my body strong
  • There is harmony and balance in all of my systems
  • I’m attracted to foods that allow my body to function at the highest levels
  • There is a bounce in my step
  • I take time to experience health
  • I experience vibrant athletic energy
  • I regularly exercise my body
  • I listen to my body and take care of its needs
  • My body regulates itself and works to be at my proper weight.
  • My body has perfect balance.
  • I live debt free.
  • I am in alignment with the spiritual laws of abundance
  • I have more than I will ever need.
  • I have more than enough to store away.
  • I have enough to share with others.
  • I live in a home that is paid for.
  • I always have more than enough
  • I spend my time and talents doing the most important things for my purpose
  • I trust that God will always provide for me, so I share freely and I know it always comes back to me 100 fold.
  • I Experience how it feels to have everything paid for, and several years of resources available.
  • I Experience how it is to have such abundance and tranquility in my life.
  • I Experience financial power and the ability to enact my vision
  • Our house has room enough to welcome others in need.
  • I feel secure because I know I have enough money to live on for years.
  • I have skills that make me very profitable.
  • I have investments and businesses that continually provide a generous income.
  • I am my own boss.
  • I pay my tithes and offerings with gladness and gratitude.
  • My prosperity prospers others. Their prosperity prospers me.
  • I constantly find ways to help people.
  • I leave everything more beautiful than I found it.
  • I make the world a better place.
  • I know that I deserve love and I accept it now.
  • I give out love and it is returned to me multiplied

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That Can’t Possibly Help My Addiction – Part One – Walking

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Preface:

Every once in a while, someone in a 12-step meeting will confidently testify of a treatment for addiction — something that changed their life and gives them power to get through another day.  My first reaction to these suggestions is almost always a cynical one.  Come on, it can’t be that simple!  However, I am learning to not discount the effectiveness of something just because it doesn’t make sense.   I started trying some of these crazy ideas and discovered that they actually worked!  I’ve decided to make a series of blog posts about a few of these counter-intuitive actions that make recovery a reality.

Walking

Don’t we all know that walking is one of the best exercises a person can do?  It is low impact, it prevents heart attacks and stroke, it keeps you young, it builds bones, it wards off diabetes, it tones your muscles, and it burns calories like crazy.  But can walking actually help someone recover from addiction?  Believe it or not, the answer is a huge YES!

For over a year, I heard recovering addicts talking about how walking helped them, but I always thought it was ridiculous.  But then I started noticing how many “Stop Smoking” programs included a daily walk as part of their road to quitting.  And I knew that taking a daily walk is one of the fastest ways out of depression, so maybe there was something to this after all.   The final straw for me was when I discovered that Life Coach Tony Litster who has a program to “attract wealth, improve relationships, make more money, eliminate self-sabotage, reconnect spiritually, and find self-acceptance” insists that his pupils take a walk for at least 5 minutes each day.

So I tried it.  At first, I walked only for the 5 minute minimum.  It seemed like a waste of my time and I couldn’t tell any difference.   Then one day I was standing in line at Costco.  Now, if you are familiar with Costco, that’s all the information you need to know.  I had been in line for 30 minutes, surrounded by crying babies, impatient shoppers, and giant shopping carts loaded with over-sized items that kept bumping into me.  The walls were closing in on me.  For someone like me, who hates crowds and would never leave the house unless he had to, I was in hell.   I could feel the panic welling up inside me and my frenzied mind started to scream, “I’ve gotta get out of here and take a walk!”

What?  I was literally stunned when I realized what I was thinking.  Here I was in a stressful situation and my mind wasn’t begging for the comforting escape of my addiction.  It was craving my little 5 minute walk.  Somehow, I had rewired my brain.

I’m not going to try to go into a long explanation of how walking helps brain function, emotional health, and cognitive development.  You have access to Google.  You can look it up yourself.   I just want to convince you to try it.

This is how walking helps me recover from addiction:

  1. Walking is a healthy escape.   Most addiction comes from an uncontrollable desire to escape — escape reality, life, stress, feelings, abuse, fear, depression, boredom, etc.   Walking helps fill that need.
  2. Walking clears my head.     There is something about the combination of walking and fresh air that makes me thinking clearly and make better choices.
  3. Walking grounds me.   When I feel that little shift begin to happen inside me, and I know I am getting to the point when cravings are heading into full blown addiction mode, I feel outside of myself.  I feel like I am a different person.  I can hear my own voice inside my head telling me to stop, but I just keep moving forward.  (It’s like when everything inside you is telling you that a hot fudge sundae is bad for you and will only make you fat, but you just eat it anyway, and then afterward you wonder why you ate it.)  Going for a walk puts me back in control of my actions.  There is something about that rhythmic drumming of my feet against the ground and the swinging of my arms harmony with my legs that grounds me to my surroundings and puts my world back in order.
  4. Walking awakens my senses.   I feel so alive when I feel the rain on my face, or the warmth of the sunlight on my arms, or the cold wind biting my cheeks and stiffening my fingers.   I understand my place in the world when I hear the birds, or see the flowers bloom, or watch the leaves fall, or witness kids playing, or see a dead animal, or wave at a neighbor, or feel my heart pumping.
  5. Walking helps me explore.    It’s amazing how many addictions began as curiosity.   Walking in new places, along different paths, fills the need to explore and discover.

If you are like me, you can’t come to know the benefits of walking until you do it yourself.  So get out there and do it!  Now, if you are walking to stay physically fit, just get out there and do whatever kind of walking makes you happy.  But if you are walking as part of addiction recovery, here are a few pointers that will make it bring you the greatest success:

  • Don’t bring your Ipod.   Don’t listen to music, talk radio, audio books, or anything else.  All of those things are used to distract you from what you are doing.  That’s why people who walk for exercise use them — it distracts them from their workout.  But you don’t want to be distracted.  You want to be focused.
  • End up where you began.   The point of your walk is not to go to the store, or a friend’s house, or anywhere else.  The point of your walk is only to walk.   The walk is your goal; getting somewhere else is not your goal.
  • Breath.   Before you begin, take several deep breaths to expand your lungs and get oxygen rushing to your brain.  It makes a big difference.
  • Go alone.   Not only do you not want the distraction of a walking partner, but you don’t want anyone else setting your pace or choosing your path.  This is your time to explore and discover.  Stop when you want to stop.  Look at what you want to see.  Be still when you need to.   This is your time.

Walking will require some commitment.  Ultimately, all I can say is try it yourself.   That’s the only way you will ever really find out if it works for you.  Give it a week.  It might make all the difference in how successful you are in your recovery.

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Lessons Learned From a Leaky Roof

leaky roof

My wife and I have been struggling with something for a while. Our roof is leaking and we don’t have $8000 for a new roof. We have been praying and praying that Heavenly Father would help us.

Last Winter the water was beginning to damage our ceilings and sheet rock. So why didn’t I just get up there and patch it?  Well, I had never been up on a roof in my entire life. Fat kids don’t get on roofs. Fat teenagers don’t get on roofs. And Fat old men definitely don’t get on roofs.  The thought of getting up there terrified me.  I just knew the roof would cave in, or I could take a bad step, resulting in death or a long and painful injury.

I had talked to several people at church about our problem, hoping that someone would offer some advice, or even offer to help me patch the roof, but no one did. I felt utterly helpless.  I couldn’t understand why my prayers weren’t being answered.

Finally, it got to the point where something had to be done.  Inching my way up the ladder took everything I had, but I finally made it onto the roof and put a tarp over the area that was leaking.  I secured it with boards.  I was shaking with fear as I came down the ladder, but I was so glad that I had done it.  That night, a big windstorm came up and ripped down the tarp. I went off by myself and cried.

Then I had an impression. I needed to go to Home Depot and figure out what I needed to patch the roof myself.  I’d never done roofing before, so I was clueless.  I remember my wife praying that night in our family prayer that I would be guided in figuring out how to repair the roof and that my hand would be guided as I worked.

I took 3 gallons of roof tar and headed up on the roof.  I was worried that if I fell, there would be no one to call 911 because my wife was at work.  I tried to get someone to come over, just to be here in case something happened, but everyone was busy. So I was on my own.

I told my wife to call me every hour on my cell phone, just to make sure I was still alive.

While I was up there, I could feel my mind being enlightened as to how to fix the problems. I could suddenly see areas that needed fixing that I hadn’t seen before.  In fact, I hadn’t even known what to look for until I was up there.

When I was done, standing up there on my roof looking around at what I had accomplished, I suddenly knew why I had to do this alone.  The Lord had to show me what I can do. I needed to learn that I could reach beyond what I thought were my limitations.  I needed to learn that I can do hard things.  I CAN DO HARD THINGS.

Some folks may think this is silly, but I’d never felt more like a man than I did at that moment.  I felt so alive.

Our roof had no more leaks that year.   I thanked God for giving me the precise experiences and trials that I needed to learn and grow in faith.

But apparently, I still had lessons to learn.  And since the leaky roof proved to be a good teaching vehicle in the past, Heavenly Father decided to use it again.

Yesterday, I noticed a brown spot on our ceiling.  We had another leak.  But I knew from past experience that I can do hard things.  Heavenly Father taught me I can patch the roof. I checked the weather report and saw that a storm was coming in today.

So I went back to Home Depot and got another 3-gallon bucket of patching tar.   I came home and said a prayer asking for help, similar to the prayer my wife had offered last year.

As I made my way up the latter, it began to rain.  Hard.

Why wasn’t God helping me?  Why didn’t he answer my prayer?  I was feeling abandoned and alone as thunder cracked in the sky.

And then I realized something.  As the rain steamed down the roof, I could see the areas that needed to be patched.  I followed the water paths and discovered the places that puddled.  Had it not been raining, I never would have been able to find the problems.

I sat there on the roof, cold and soaking wet, and thanked my Father in Heaven for making it rain.  I asked His forgiveness for doubting Him.

I know that to find happiness I must turn my entire life over to God.  As I do so, I am amazed to find Him patient and accepting of my faltering efforts.

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Just Stop

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I was only eleven years old the first time I sought council from a spiritual leader for an addiction.  I was terrified, but resolute.  I felt like it was the only place I could turn for help.  Without telling anyone else, I called on my own and made an appointment with my Bishop.

Being so young, my problem wasn’t a big one in the grand scheme of things, but it was big to me.  And within my little problem lay the seeds of addiction that were already beginning to take root and would someday become the unstoppable force that would lead me to alcohol, tobacco, pornography, pills, and other self-destructive behaviors at different times in my life.

I tearfully explained my problem to the Bishop.  I remember feeling exposed and unsteady as I waited for his response.   His solution came along with a tone of voice that said it should be obvious and simple.  He said, “Just stop.”

I left his office feeling misunderstood and, frankly, unimportant.  However, I’m not saying it was that Bishop, fault.  In 1979, who could blame the guy for knowing nothing about addiction?

And yet, if you pay attention, you will still hear those same sentiments expressed today.

“Honey, you keep putting on weight.  Why don’t you just stop eating so much?”

“You have lung cancer!  Why are you buying cigarettes!”

“Do you look at porn because I’m not pretty enough?”

“Don’t you think you have had enough?”

Even addicts themselves usually spend years telling themselves they will stop someday, eventually, when the time is right, soon.

The greatest gift God has given us is our agency, the power to choose our own paths.  So why can’t people just choose to stop doing a certain thing?

If that were the case, addiction wouldn’t exist.  We would have no need for the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89) because everyone could control themselves.  Let’s be honest, a little wine every once in a while isn’t going to hurt you.  But the Lord in his wisdom knows that not everyone will be able to have just a little wine.  That’s why the Word of Wisdom states that it is given for the “weakest of all saints” (v. 3)

As difficult as it is for me admit, I am the weakest of all saints.  I gave up my agency a long time ago.  I no longer have a choice.  Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve observed:

“Addiction surrenders later freedom to choose. Through chemical means, one can literally become disconnected from his or her own will” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 7; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 7).

It takes years, sometimes decades, for an addict to get the turning point when they can take Step One of addiction recovery: “Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.”   And that turning point is usually only found at rock bottom.

In my role as Group Leader of an addiction recovery support group, I have heard dozens of stories very similar to the one I told at the beginning of this post.  Church leaders, employers, judges, spouses, children, and friends who tell the addict to “just stop” what they are doing.  And they wish they could.  They desperately wish they could.  But they can’t.  I can’t.

But there is hope.  Take that first step and admit.  Then take that Second step: “Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.”

The Addiction Recovery Program is nothing more than a workshop in how to use the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Church leaders must become educated in this process and learn how to help those who suffer.

I can’t help but wonder how my life would have been different had that Bishop in my youth been able to steer me onto the path of recovery.  But I know I sin in this thought, because the experiences God has given me have been exactly what I needed to arrive where I am today.  The only thing I can do is promise to help others who struggle.  And maybe I will be able to spare someone else the anguish that I have felt.

Things are getting better.  There are LDS Addiction Recovery support groups popping up all over.  We help with every kind of addiction, and we help people of all faiths.

One of the fastest growing addictions we see is pornography addiction.  It is estimated that 70% of men view pornography at least once a month.  The Church says this number is the same within church membership, and they estimate that 40% of men in the church have a pornography addiction.  And that’s just pornography addiction.  When you consider alcohol, drugs, food, and the countless other addictions that exist, it boggles the mind.

Sometimes when we are in our little Addiction Recovery Meetings we joke that if everyone who needed to be there came to our meetings, we would have to rent Arco Arena.

So I tell my little group that they are warriors.  They are the ones on the front lines fighting their demons and working hard to become followers of Jesus Christ.  They are the brave ones.  And they are being trained to help others do the same.

Someday, someone will come to them for help.  And instead of ignorantly saying, “Just stop,” they will be able to put their arm around that person’s shoulder and share with them the hope they feel.

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Filed under addiction, LDS, Mormon, Recovery

Baby Steps

Hi.  My name is ________ and I’m an addict….

In recovery meetings around the world, held in churches, basements, offices, or parks, this is how people begin spilling their guts about what really goes on inside their heads.

There are reasons why those those meetings are anonymous.  Chief among those reasons is that most addicts share a fear that if anyone really knew them, really knew how they thought, what they did, how they felt, no one would accept them, let alone love them.  This fear consumes them and drives them into a life of secrecy and seclusion.

And addiction thrives in secrecy and seclusion.

For many people, recovery meetings are their first timid attempts to reach out and connect honestly with another person.  The anonymity and confidentiality provide a safety net for their fears of rejection and loneliness.

A blog is the last thing an addict would want to write.  Fiction? Sure.  Poetry? Maybe.  But a blog? An online public journal with my picture out there for the world to see? Oh, hell no!

So why would I, a long-time 12-stepper and recovering addict, choose to start this blog?  That’s a good question.  Let me think about that a moment…

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I don’t care as much about what people think about me?  Nope, that’s not it.  I still have a big problem being a people-pleaser.

Maybe I have finally overcome my fears?  Nope.  I’m terrified.  And I’m still not sure if I’m actually going to push that ominous button at the bottom of this page that will publish this.

Okay, here is my official answer:  I’m doing this because I know what hopelessness feels like.  I’m doing this because I know how it feels to have my god-given agency taken away by addiction.  I’m doing this because I know there are countless people who think they are beyond help.  And I’m doing this to illustrate what recovery looks like, because most people have a false picture of what their life will be like without their addiction.

I’m also doing this because it is important to my own recovery and healing.  In fact, it’s right there in the program.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share this message with others and practice these principles in all you do. (A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing, LDS Family Services)

“Those of us who have partaken of the Atonement are under obligation to bear faithful testimony of our Lord and Savior.”(President Howard W. Hunter, “The Atonement and Missionary Work,” seminar for new mission presidents, June 21, 1994, 2).

Honestly, this isn’t something I really want to do.  But I have a strong feeling that this is something my Heavenly Father wants me to do.  And I want to trust him.  I want to believe that He has something in store for me that I can’t even comprehend at this point.  President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

“Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” Ensign, Dec. 1988, 4).

So here I am, ready to click this little button and see what happens.  And I begin this blog in the same way I have been sharing about myself in weekly meetings for several years:

Hi.  My name is Wes, and I’m a recovering addict.

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Filed under addiction, LDS, Mormon, Uncategorized, Writing