Most of us think of addicts as “street people” or drunks hiding liquor in the toilet tank. The novel I am currently writing deals with addiction, and so I have become interested in the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program that is based upon the Alcoholic Anonymous Twelve-Step Program. (The entire manual for this program can be downloaded at www.providentliving.org/family services/AddctionRecoveryManual_36764000.pdf.
Propensity toward addiction can be inherited, it is true. However, it is often fallen into as a method of coping with things in our life that we can’t face. One of these things may simply be emptiness, another may be a craving for love, still another could be pain that a person simply cannot face.
I remember a scene from a recent “Numbers” episode that dramatized this quite well. Don had an extremely adrenalin-producing occupation as head of an FBI unit. He had no family of his own, though he did have a great brother and father. He was unable to commit in personal relationships and was troubled (when not working) by the existential void in his life. Why was he alive? What was the purpose of it all?
Those of you who are familiar with my writing know that I refer to this existential void as “the Divine Void” or the place inside us that craves the love and companionship of our Heavenly Father an Jesus Christ that we left behind when we were born into mortality.
Don could not find a satisfactory answer to his questions, and so he drank “to fill the emptiness.” Ironically, the producers of this show seemed to have some kind of understanding for the “divine void” because they had Don start going to his synagogue and finding meaning in his life by becoming a practicing Jew.
I believe that it is the most sensitive and needy of us who are aware of this void. We, like Don, use certain behaviors to fill our emptiness. Soon these behaviors enslave us, and our lives are no longer our own. We have a false “filler” of our void, and the thought of living without it is terrifying.
The following statement is made in the introduction of the aforementioned church manual on addiction: “We have known great sorrow, but we have seen the power of the Savior turn our most devastating defeats into glorious spiritual victories. We who once lived with daily depression, anxiety, fear, and debilitating anger now experience joy and peace. We have witneed miracles in our own lives and in the elives of others who were ensnared in addiction.”
Notice the prominent mention of “the Savior”? The twelve step program is all about availing ourselves of the atonement of Jesus Christ and turning our lives over to Him to fill our Divine Void. Becoming instruments in His hands. We cannot do these two things (which is the purpose of mortality) if we are enslaved by something as simple as being a TV addict. Do we go to the TV for comfort, solace, and escape, rather than seeking out the Lord and what He would have us do with our lives and our time? Anything that we use for these purposes that stands between us and the Lord can be termed an addiction, if we are afraid to do without it. In the Addiction Recovery Manual, it is stated as follows: “Some people consider addictions to be simply bad habits that can be conquered by willpower alone, but many people become so dependent on a behavior or a substance that they no longer see how to abstain from it. They lose perspective and a dense of other priorities in their live. Nothing matters more than satisfying their desperate need.”
If there is anything in your life that falls into this category of behavior, then perhaps you might benefit from either enrolling in the Social Services Addiction Recovery Plan, or reading the manual (url address above) which you can download from the computer and print out.
Because of the prominence of media adddiction among young adults, parents should become familiar with the twelve steps of recovery, even though they may not need them for themselves. They are as follows:
Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.
Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.
Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself.
Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another peroin the xact nature of your wrongs.
Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.
Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.
Make a written list of all poersons you have harmd and bcome willing make restitution to them.
Wherever possible make direct restitution to persons you have harmed.
Continue to take personal inventory and when you are wrong, promptly admit it.
Seek through prayer and meditation to know the Lord’s will and to have the power to carry it out.
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 that you do.
(Source: LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program.
I realize in my life that I had to make a similar journey in order to overcome the thought patterns induced in me because of abuse. Learning to let go of my fear and begin to trust the Lord, followed the same pattern as given above.
The atonement of Jesus Christ is central to every good thing we can have or experience in our lives. Even if we are led to it through our weaknesses, it is worth it, for coming to know Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father, allowing our spirits to dominate our bodies, is the entire purpose of our mortal existence.