ARP and Me
Hi, my name is Paul and I’m a recovering co-dependent and an ARP meeting leader.
Nick’s post opened the window to the discussion of addiction recovery, and I want to add to it.
The church has for many years been supportive of recovery for those who struggle with addictions of all kinds – alcohol, drugs, food, sex, pornography. I remember sitting in a bishopric training meeting two-and-a-half decades ago when our stake president indicated that 12-step meetings were available in a nearby stake center for those who needed them.
At the time I took little notice, except to wonder who would need such help. Certainly not me!
I’ve been involved with the 12 steps for over five years, first in a program outside ARP, and I’ve been leading LDS Addiction Recovery Meetings for about four years. I came to the 12 steps like almost everyone, because my life was out of control.
In my case, it was the drug addiction of a loved one that brought me to the steps. But it was my own co-dependence that keeps me coming back. That is, I’m not there for my loved one. I’m there for me. I’m working on my own recovery.
The first 12 step meeting I ever attended was an open AA meeting. I had shared phone messages prior to the meeting with a woman who was trying to establish an English AlAnon meeting in that foreign capital city. I met her at the meeting and mentioned that I wanted to attend AlAnon to support my loved one in recovery. The woman looked at me for a moment, nodded slowly and said, “Yes, AlAnon might help your loved one. But it will help you more.”
It took me some time to figure out what she meant. About the same time I began working with an online group from Families Anonymous where I found a very supportive environment for my recovery. I worked the steps, and slowly (very slowly sometimes), sanity came back to my life.
Often in 12 step programs, we talk about living in recovery. That’s different from being recovered. Although most of the people in my meetings hold out hope that recovery could be a state of being (and I am confident that such an end is possible through the atonement), for most of us it is a process (and I am also confident that the Lord intends it that way). People who are not working the steps may struggle with the difference between the two.
In the gospel, we talk about eternal covenants and life-long commitments. We teach our children to make choices today so they won’t have to revisit them later. For those who struggle with true addictions, the only way to keep a life-long commitment is one day at a time, sometimes one hour or one minute at a time. We all hope for a day when sin becomes abhorrent to us, and when our addictions no longer have a draw. But we live in mortal bodies that suffer from the disease of addiction which is more easily managed than cured. And we manage it every day, just the way a diabetes patient manages his disease. Every day we seek to submit ourselves to God’s will. Every day we do a personal inventory to evaluate our progress. Every day we make amends when we need to. Every day we decide (again) to abstain from our addictions and to do positive things instead.
Although the Addiction Recovery Program focuses on twelve weeks of readings, each week about one of the twelve steps of recovery, no one expects to “finish” the course of recovery in three months. Some steps might be worked quickly, and others may take weeks or months to complete. And even having “completed” the steps, we still come back and serve others who may be at a different spot on their path of recovery.
Some of the most spiritual meetings I have ever attended in the church are ARP meetings, meetings filled with addicts and alcoholics who are doing the best they can to invite the influence of the Savior into their lives. At the end of each meeting, the meeting leader thanks those who attend by saying, “Your being here demonstrates your humility and faith, and inspires hope in others who attend.”
Indeed they do.