Every now and then the Church comes out with something that is just really cool. That's how I felt with the announcement of the Perpetual Education Fund and the 1978 revelation on the Priesthood, for example. More recently, something that I find cool, inspiring, and successful is the LDS Addiction Recovery Program, which is quietly bringing real hope and change to people who were once trapped with addictions. I've been learning about this program from some people who are involved in various aspects of it, and I'm deeply impressed. There is a need for more people to get involved in order to help themselves or others in our lives. There is a need for more bishops and branch presidents to be aware of this program and send more members there to gain help and to offer support.

The LDS Addiction Recovery Program is a great example of the Church drawing upon inspiration given to people outside our ranks. This remarkable 12-step program is taken from Alcoholics Anonymous with steps very close to the original 12 steps of AA. It's sort of like "open innovation" applied to religion, and I'm all for it.

The outstanding manual, A Guide to Addiction Recovery, is available in many languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Mongolian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Ukranian. (If your language isn't listed, maybe it's because your culture doesn't have much of an addiction problem, eh? Congratulations, Hindi speakers!)

The meetings are intended to preserve confidentiality of the participants. In my stake, they are scheduled one evening a week and other organizations are asked to stay out of the church buildings if possible on that night or at least stay away from the area where the meetings are being held to help reduce the risk of embarrassment for meeting participants. But there's no reason to feel embarrassed about attending. We all have our problems, and even for the more perfected among us, we probably all have people in our lives who are struggling with addictions, or perhaps we've overcome addictions and have something to share to help others. There is strength in numbers and higher attendance can really enhance the meetings.

One of the group leaders I spoke to was just ecstatic about the power of the program. By helping people to turn to the Savior for strength and by creating support for one another in the groups that meet, great progress can be achieved.

The Church is devoting a lot of resources to making this program be available to bless the lives of its members. Preaching against the vices of addiction has its value, but adding this dimension is a welcome addition in a world where addictions are increasingly harming lives and damaging families.

By the way, guess what one of the most common addictions is that afflicts participants? This is according to a program leader in Madison, Wisconsin. I was surprised when he told me that video game addictions are the leading problem that brings people in for help. That's not to say that it's the most common or most serious addiction by any means, but it could the one where affected LDS people are most motivated and willing to come forward for help, at least in Madison. Interesting. The 12-step program could help - but there's quicker one-step fix: replace video games with blogging. Blogging, of course, isn't an addiction--it's a noble pursuit that takes almost as much time and can be just as impressive to your significant other, all without ever running the risk of completing the game and finally being done. See, wasn't that easy? Take up blogging instead, people! And you can do it even on a lame machine--for free!

Hey, check out the Addiction Recovery Program and ask your bishop or branch president for more information on how you can help and participate, either for your benefit or so you can help others. It's something we all need to take seriously.

Update, July 4, 2010: There are some reports arguing that the empirical success rate for the AA 12-step program is not impressive. I'm still digging into the details and will report more later. Will the Church's version do better than AA? I hope so. Perhaps a major part of the value will come before people ever step foot in the sessions, when LDS leaders help people with addictions admit they have a problem and resolve to change. The 12-step program may then be a trigger to help them decide to change. I certainly need to learn more.
Continue reading at the original source →