A Sloppy Recovery


When I first began the Addiction Recovery Program my life was totally disorganized -- not unlike the schedule below:

Monday:  Wake up at 7:30 read from BofM, pray, eat, get dressed, go to school and work. Come home, do homework, pray, go to bed at 11:30.

Tuesday: Wake up at 8:30 eat, get dressed, pray, go to school and work. Come home, go to part of ARP meeting, come home, do homework, pray, watch TV, go to bed at 12:30.

Wednesday: Wake up at 7:00, get dressed, do some step work, eat, go to school and work. Come home, do homework, read from BofM go to bed at 12:00.

Thursday: Wake up at 9:30, eat, get dressed, go to school and work. Come home, do homework, read from BofM, write in journal, pray, go to bed at 12:30.

Friday: Wake up at 8:00, read from BofM, pray, do some step work, eat, go to school and work. Come home, hang out with friends, go to bed at 1:00 AM.

Saturday: Wake up at 10:30, eat, get dressed, go for a hike, hang out with friends, go to a movie. Go to bed at 1:30 AM.

Sunday: Wake up at 8:30, eat, get dressed, pray, go to church, hang out with friends, write in journal, pray, go to bed at 10:30.

Might this schedule belong to anyone you know???

What this person has is a sloppy schedule -- and possibly a sloppy recovery. 

Sure he is trying to squeeze in everything he knows he should be doing but it's not working well.

Each day is totally different. He has no real plan, except to try to do a little of everything when he can squeeze it in.
What he's missing is Consistency!

He may wonder, "Hey, I'm trying to pray, read my scriptures, attend an ARP meeting plus work on the 12 steps -- so why do I feel like I'm not recovering?"

The truth is, he's really not in control.  He doesn't have a plan.  He is "tossed to and fro."

His recovery could be so much simpler and effective if he took charge, and had a plan for each day by:
  • Trying to go to bed at the same time each night
  • Making sure to get adequate sleep
  • Getting up at the same time each morning
  • Setting up a consistent routine for dailies each day -- including weekends
  • And determining which things in life are important and which are optional.
For many of us the best time to do dailies is early in the morning, before others get up*.  That way we have a quiet time to read, ponder, and pray -- just like the personal study done by missionaries. If it was good for us as missionaries, it should be good for us now.

Suggestion: 
  • Write down your schedule each day for a week and see what you are really doing and when.
  • Determine what you can you do to be more consistent? 
  • Then put together a plan for the following week and try to live it.
  • If it doesn't work, make adjustments until you have a plan that works and is consistent.
Then you should begin seeing success, not just in recovery, but in all aspects of your life!

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*If you would like to know the benefits of getting up early, check out this article from the Ensign entitled: Filled With Life and Energy.    

Diabetes and Addiction


Diabetes and Addiction have many things in common.

Diabetes is an illness and if not treated it will get worse.

Addiction is an illness and if not treated it will get worse.

With diabetes the pancreas could be considered broken and doesn’t produce the correct amount of insulin.

With an addiction the brain can be considered broken and produces chemicals that cause the person to act irrationally. 

Treatment

If a person with diabetes doesn’t take his insulin daily and watch his diet he will suffer grave consequences.

If a person with an addiction doesn’t do his “dailies” daily and watch his internet diet he will suffer grave consequences.

If a person with diabetes tries to skip his insulin shots for six days and take the full amount on the seventh day, he will probably go into shock.

If a person with an addiction tries to skip his dailies for six days and then do a week’s worth of dailies on the seventh day, he will probably relapse.

If a person with diabetes doesn’t report to or isn’t accountable to his doctor on a regular basis, he could miss some needed adjustments that he might need to keep him on course.

If a person with an addiction doesn’t report to or isn’t accountable to his sponsor and his bishop on a regular basis, he could miss some needed adjustments that he might need to keep him on course.

The Good News

There are diabetes support groups that meet monthly and provide information and support to their members. There is no charge to attend.

There are addiction recovery support groups that meet weekly and provide information and support to their members. There is no charge to attend.

A person with Diabetes can live a normal life if he takes his illness seriously and treats it on a daily basis. No one ever needs to know that someone is a diabetic.  

A person with an addiction can live a normal life if he takes his illness seriously and treats it on a daily basis.  No one ever needs to know that someone is an addict.

Conclusion


It is possible that we may not totally overcome our addiction in this life, just as a diabetic may not overcome his diabetes. But that does not mean we must continue to suffer and remain in bondage to the addiction, if we take the necessary steps to control it. 

Take a moment and read the account of Alma and his people found in Mosiah 24:14-15 and see how it might apply to our situation.



14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage.

15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease.

Some of the steps we should take to qualify for the Lord's help include:
  • Doing "dailies" daily. Never skip a day and make sure our dailies includes 12 Step work.
      
  • Being accountable to our bishop and a sponsor on a regular basis.
       
  • Attending recovery meetings every week. We shouldn't just attend when we have nothing better to do.
      
  • Immediately doing PMS when triggered -- Pray, Move and get Support!!!
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Let us all support each other in this effort just like the people of Alma!

Two Things That Have Helped Me


If I were to be asked to list two things that have helped me the most since starting the 12 Step program, here is what I would list.
  1. The Importance of Reaching Out
      
  2. Doing PMS When Stressed or Tempted
And those two things are probably what I mention the most when I share in our group.

So let me review them briefly.

The Importance of Reaching Out

We all know that none of us can recover in isolation. We have all tried that multiple times and failed miserably.
We need each other and the Lord to recover.

And reaching out is the best way to support each other.

So that is exactly what I'm doing right now.  I'm reaching out!

When I'm sad, depressed, lonely, bored, stressed, or tempted, I know I can reach out to any of the  guys I know in ARP and receive support.

That's has been a huge blessing in my life.

And on days when I'm feeling good, I can also reach out and lift others.

It doesn't matter whether I'm reaching to ask for help or reaching out to offer help, either way, it blesses two lives!

It blesses the life of the one reaching out and it blesses the life of the one being reached out to.  I think you already recognize this.
  
Doing PMS

P stands for Prayer,  M stands for Move or change your environment, and S stands for get Support or Surrender.

And I used to think they had to be done in that order, first pray, then move, then get support.
But I've recently changed my mind.  So feel free to do them in any order.  But all three are important.
I can promise you that PMS works -- at least it works for me.  Consider adding it your toolkit.

For me this last year, when an unwanted thought enters my mind I try to say a prayer within the first few seconds.

"Heavenly Father please help me get rid of that thought in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
And He does!

Most of the time that is all that is needed and the thought disappears within seconds.

However, if I can't get rid of those thoughts I then need to either "Move."  That may mean, go for a walk.  Somehow change my environment.

Or call or text someone I know in the program and ask them to pray for me.

Once I've shared with someone else what is going on, the temptation usually is substantially weakened. 

Plus, once I share my stress, temptation or trigger with someone else, I then become accountable!

What I don't want to do is to try to handle it by myself.  That doesn't work!

If I were to suggest a goal, it would be to really take PMS seriously.  Pray the moment you have a negative thought.

If it doesn't go away, change your environment and call or text someone.  It really works! 
I hope you will consider adding these two items to you recovery toolkit. 

I Feel My Savior's Love

Months ago I wrote a post entitled Our Savior's Love.

In that post, I told about a Tender Mercy I received on a day that I was feeling really alone, and I  prayed for comfort and reassurance.  Then all of a sudden my smartphone, with no help from me, started playing "Our Savior's Love" by the Tabernacle Choir.

I knew in an instant that it was a Tender Mercy from my Father in Heaven.  And the message I received at that time was: "I know you and I love you!!!"

Then later that same day, my phone played the same song.  But this time it was sung by a different group, "Our Savior's Love by Voice Male."  That was another Tender Mercy, giving me the same message: "I know you and I love you!!!"

Well last night I was thinking about the many Tender Mercies I have received over the last few years and I decided to just listen to some uplifting music on Pandora.  When I opened up Pandora it suggested that I might like listening to music from "Paul Cardall" so I clicked "OK" and it started playing.

At one point I sat down on my bed, and as I did one tune began playing.  The Spirit said to me, this one is just for you.  The tune was familiar but I wasn't sure of the title -- so I looked it up it was.  "I Feel My Savior's Love!!!"

And once again I received that same message as before:  "I know you and I love you!!!"

That was not a coincidence.  I testify that Tender Mercies are real and they come to us from a loving Father in Heaven who wishes to tell each of us how much he loves us.  And that He wishes to bless us if we will just ask Him.  I know that to be true!!!

Please look for Tender Mercies in your own life.  I know they are there.  And ask Heavenly Father in prayer to be able to recognize your own Tender Mercies.

That way you can also receive the message: "I know you and I love you!!!"




Avoiding Temptation vs Resisting Temptation

I’d like to compare my addiction to a water slide. The water slide is the addiction and my natural man is anxious to experience the thrill of the slide.

However, my spirit wants something better. My spirit knows that the thrill of the slide is only temporary and artificial and will not satisfy my desire for true long-lasting joy.

With that in mind let's imagine a young man sitting at the top of the slide. The water is already rushing past him and he is grasping tightly the sides of the slide -- he is just waiting for the signal to go.

So at this point, what are the chances of him resisting the temptation to start down the slide?  And once he starts down the slide, what are the chances of him stopping?  His chances of resisting at this point are slim to none.

The same is true of us and our addiction.  Once we get to a certain point, the chance of us backing away or stopping is almost impossible.  Let's admit it -- we have all been there!

Even if the young man at the top of a slide changes his mind, he still has to push his way past all the others waiting in line and walk down all those stairs to get to safety.  That’s not very likely, especially if his natural man still wants to experience the thrill of the slide.

So one solution, rather than “resist temptation, is to “avoid temptation.”

Getting back to the water slide analogy: wouldn’t it be much easier to make a decision, at the foot of the water slide, to not climb all those stairs, and thus avoid the temptation altogether?

In fact, if you knew that water slides were bad, perhaps when you saw a water slide 100 yards away, you could decide to go off in another direction and avoid the slide altogether.

If we have a temptation right in front of us, close enough that we can reach out and touch it, our chance of resisting it is very small.  However, if the temptation is far off, and we choose to avoid it, our chance of success is great.

"Avoiding" temptation is more effective than "resisting" temptation!

Along this same line of thinking, it's my understanding that we all have our own rituals when we start getting close to temptation – we follow the same paths over and over again.

If we are honest with ourselves, we can identify early on when we are starting down that path and avoid going any further. We have been down that path before and we already know where it leads.

Think of the last time you acted out or relapsed.  What led up to your acting out? Like the stairs up to the water slide, what path did you take?  

I challenge you to mentally walk back down that path, down the stairs of the water slide, to it’s beginning.  Now, in your mind, pinpoint the start of that path!!!  At that point what could you have done to avoid going any further?

So next time you find yourself starting down that path, or up those stairs, stop yourself and avoid going any further -- you already know where it leads!!!


P.S. I chose a water slide for my analogy because it really is a "slippery slope".  And once you start down that path, you know where you're going to end up.

Becoming My Own Parent *

I have a daughter whom I love fiercely. She's just a toddler, but she is one of the most fun people I've ever met. We love to sing together and we love to have dance parties.  

Watching her grow from day to day is one of my greatest blessings. 

A while ago, I was given an insight into my own life thanks to the relationship I have with my daughter. 

I learned that I need to be my own parent!

Throughout the course of my addiction, I would say that I have been more of my own high school buddy than being my own parent. 

I would say things to myself like, 

     "Oh man, we'd get in so much trouble if we got caught!" Or

     "Homework (or my responsibilities) are lame!   Let's ditch!" 

It sounds silly, I know. 

When I was my own teenaged friend, I found the guardrails in my life to be obstructing and restricting.

The most valuable thing about being my own parent is that I love myself fiercely! 

And it's because I love myself the way a parent would love their child that I've decided to give myself house rules to follow. 

I've given myself a routine daily schedule that has activities important to my spiritual, physical, emotional, and social health.

I study the scriptures daily and choose the study topic for the day. 

I keep filters and other barriers (for which only a trusted individual knows the passwords) on my electronic devices. 

I've heard it said that children don't need their parent to be a friend near as much as they need their parent to be a parent. 

As I've tried to love myself the way I would love my daughter (and the way God loves his children) It's made all the difference in my life.

* This post was written by my good friend, Doug.  I appreciate his insights!!!

My Most Important Recovery Decision


There was one decision I made some time ago that has helped me the most in my recovery.

And that decision was to get up a half hour earlier each day and do my dailies first thing!

And when I say “my dailies” I include a minimum of three things:     
  • First. read from the Book of Mormon 
  • Second, do some kind of “Step Work” from the Addiction Recovery Program
  • Third, say a kneeling verbal prayer including actual names of family and friends
Of course, I can include other items in my dailies, but this is the basic list I shoot for each day.

And if I haven’t done those three things, I don’t feel like I have a good start to the day.

I realize that others do their dailies at different times.

But for me, if I try to do my dailies at a different time, something always gets in the way.  

There are very few interruptions at 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning.

And in retrospect, this one decision has helped my recovery more than anything else.

He Is Building A Palace *

The Psalmist wrote: “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.”   (Psalm 127:1)

C.S. Lewis made an insightful comment on building houses:

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to?

The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."  (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Unless we are willing to let go and allow the Lord to build our lives, we will labor in vain to build our own. The vanity and unbelief of clinging to our own will denies us the privilege of experiencing Christ. There is no other way.

*The above was sent to me by my good friend, Steven.  It applies well to both Steps 3 and 6.

Girlfriends and Recovery


In the five years I’ve been attending 12 Step Meetings, I’ve observed a pattern:

  1. Single guy struggles with recovery and sobriety
  2. Guy starts dating
  3. Sobriety becomes easier
  4. Guy feels good about his recovery 
  5. Girl breaks up
  6. Guy crashes and burns and goes back to Step 1

So what is really happening?  

What’s important to recognize is that the guy has not been taking the 12 Steps seriously and is not that far into recovery. He has not yet given his life over to the Savior.

So when the girl enters his life, Satan lightens up and allows the guy to feel like he is in control of his life. The need to depend on the Savior becomes less and the guy starts to depend on his girlfriend instead. So when they break up. He is suddenly without any support and he falls back to where he was before.

So what is the solution?  

It would be great for guys to recognize that they need to recover “for themselves” not for another person. And they should be confident that they are farther along in recovery before they start serious dating.  

Ideally, the single guy should have a sponsor, work on recovery every day, go through all 12 Steps, do the action steps, answer all the questions, and learn to depend on the Savior before getting a girlfriend.

There is another version of this pattern:

  1. Single guy struggles with recovery and sobriety
  2. Guy starts dating
  3. Sobriety becomes easier
  4. Guy feels good about his recovery 
  5. Guy and girl get engaged
  6. They get married
  7. Weeks or months after marriage the guy relapses

This is the same scenario as the first, but in this scenario, Satan lightens up until after the marriage. In the meantime, the guy has stopped attending 12 Step meetings and feels he is now in control. And then Satan comes back with a vengeance.  

The guy is not prepared. He mistakenly thought that he had conquered his addiction.  And now Satan and the addiction is impacting two lives, not just one.

The solution:

The solution for this scenario is the same as the first. Don’t get serious with a young woman till you are sure you are recovering for yourself and you have a good relationship with the Savior.

The solution for the second scenario, once they are married, is more complicated. The guy and his wife need to come back to the 12 Step meetings –- the husband needs to seriously do the 12 Steps and the wife should be involved in the Spouse and Family Support program to help her understand what she can and cannot do to help her husband and herself.
                                           

Will It Please Satan?

The Situation
Sometimes, when making a decision, we have two or more alternatives to choose from.  And our human mind is capable of justifying some or all of those alternative choices.  And perhaps they all might appear good or at least acceptable.
So how should we decide?  Well, it dawned on me that there is one question we can ask ourselves in making a choice.  And that question is:  “Will this choice please Satan?”  If the answer is “YES,” we can eliminate that particular choice.
Case In Point
Friday night I set my alarm to wake up early to attend the temple and put names on the Prayer Roll.  And at that time I fully intended to get up, do my dailies, and go to the temple.
However, when the alarm went off Saturday morning, I didn’t feel like getting up.  And here is what went through my mind.

  • I am really tired!  Probably because I didn’t sleep well the night before.
  • Therefore, I would be justified in either turning off the alarm or resetting it to a later time.
  • After all, I really need my sleep to stay healthy!
  • And it’s not a requirement to go to the temple every Saturday 

But then I asked myself the question: “Would it please Satan if I didn’t get up right now.” 
And the answer was “Yes, It would please Satan!!!"
And here are the reasons:

  • I would have made a commitment to myself the night before and then broken that commitment first thing the next morning.  That would please Satan.
  • If I didn’t get up right then, I might not make it to the temple at all. That would really please Satan!
  • And if I don’t make it to the temple I won’t feel the spirit or put those names on the Prayer Roll.  That would be a real winner with Satan!! 

The Decision
So I knew what I needed to do.  I got up, did my dailies, said my prayers, took my shower and went to the temple.  And I’m so glad I did!!!
But if I hadn’t asked myself that question, I could have easily justified just staying in bed.
I have decided that I need to ask myself that question more often:   
"Will this decision please Satan???"

The "I Have to" Syndrome *

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” For years I have been fascinated with entrepreneurs and inventions. Many entrepreneurs don’t think the way most people do. They think of improvements and ways to change processes or products to facilitate increased efficiency, cost savings, or ease of use. I find this fascinating because when I see a new invention, I think: “that’s genius! Why didn’t I think of that? It was right there, under my nose, all along.” I have always gotten stuck in the rut of “this is how it has always been done and there is no other way to do it.” Over the past few years, going to Italy as a missionary and to China for a business trip, I recognize that people accomplish the same goals through entirely different means, and it works out for them! In some cases, others even find better ways to do things that I thought could not be improved. It can be so easy to get stuck in this rut of thinking, especially as an addict. Behavioral processes and patterns become so consistent and common that they can literally become hardwired into the makeup of one’s brain. One thing that has helped me to break the cycle of addiction is to think “outside the box.” An example of this “outside the box” thinking was a lightbulb moment my freshman year of college. I went to the bishop to confess acting out, just like I had done with every other bishop before. He asked what happened. I told him that I was feeling really triggered, I had to take a shower, and I acted out while taking a shower. He stopped me and said: “you don’t have to take a shower.” I was really confused. I responded: “I don’t have to take a shower? Yes I do! Showers are important. I need to be clean.” He took a different angle. “Would it be the end of the world if you didn’t shower?” “Well, no.” I responded. “Are you going to go to Hell if you don’t take a shower?” “Uhhh….I don’t think so?” I replied. This news that I didn’t have to shower had me practically rethinking everything I thought to be true. That was such a lightbulb moment for me. I DON’T HAVE TO SHOWER!! What a mind-blowing idea. As I have reflected on this fact over the years, I have seen how I facilitate and justify my acting out in addiction by telling myself “but I have to do this….” I have seen this pattern over and over. It goes something like this: “I’m feeling so tempted right now. Taking a shower is probably not a good idea. But I HAVE to. I’ll probably smell if I don’t.” Or “I’m feeling really tempted right now and getting on the internet is probably not the smartest idea…but I HAVE to get my homework done tonight by midnight or else it will be late.” The truth is, we don’t HAVE to do anything. By buying into the idea that we HAVE to do something, is buying into Satan’s lie that he tried to deceive us with since the beginning of time. Satan’s plan that opposed the Plan of Salvation was probably called “The You Have to Plan.” You will be forced to be perfect so that everyone can return and live with God. Well. That plan wasn’t chosen because making people “HAVE” to do something gives our agency over to Satan and turns us into “objects” to be acted upon and not “agents” to act for ourselves (2 Nephi 2:26). Sound familiar? Ever been in a place where you felt like you “HAVE” to do something like homework that kept you up late or research online that always ended up in relapse? Telling ourselves that we “HAVE” to go into an environment that is threatening our sobriety not only sedates our conscience (or lulls us into carnal security) and provides an abundance of excuses for after we relapse, but it also hands the reins of agency over to Satan. As we all know, “the devil cheateth [our] souls and leadeth [us] away carefully down to hell” (2 Nephi 28:21). Getting stuck in the trap of “I HAVE TO” is dangerous because “If you always think what you’ve always thought, you’ll always get what you always got.” Let’s resolve today to be a bit more like our entrepreneur friends and think outside the I-HAVE-to-do-it-this-way box. The reason this is such a powerful paradigm shift is because thinking outside the box is effectively taking the reins back from Satan and using our powerful gift of agency to choose an alternate ending to the oh so common “slippery slope” of relapse.
* This post was written by my good friend Tyler, who inspires me every day with his wisdom.

Which one of these is true for you?

Regarding Temptation:

Which one of these is true for you?
  1. I’m not tempted at all.
  2. When I’m tempted, I white-knuckle it. **
  3. When I'm tempted, I start to white-knuckle it and then I do PMS.
  4. When I'm tempted, I do PMS as soon as I recognize what’s happening.
  5. When I'm tempted, I give in immediately. **
      ** How is that working out for you??



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What is PMS?
  • P=Prayer  (First pray, and in many cases, the temptation will go away.)
  • M=Move  (Physically move away from the temptation. Go outdoors, or for a walk, or a drive.)
  • S=Support  (Reach Out and call or text a friend who understands and who will pray for you.)


Are We Modern-day Zoramites?

Let's read a little from Alma chapter 31 as Alma talks about the Zoramites:

They did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the Lord; and they did worship.

Now the place was called by them Rameumptom.

For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers.

Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner.

Now in 1 Nephi chapter 19 Nephi states: 

"I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning."  

And he suggests that we do that for ourselves.

So what if we take the account of the Zoramites, and modernize the wording slightly.  

How might it read?


Those with an addiction did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the 12 Step Meeting.

Now the place was called by them the place of the 12 Step Meeting. 

For behold, every man did share a similar share about how he really wanted to recover and how he intended to follow the steps of recovery.

Now, after the men had all offered up their shares after this manner, they returned to their homes, never opening their ARP Guide nor doing any step work until they had assembled themselves together again the next week, to offer up their shares in a similar manner.

Are any of us guilty of this?

Let's Stop Kidding Ourselves

The Alcoholic

What would you think if you heard an alcoholic make the following statements?
  • I used to get drunk by drinking vodka, but it’s not so bad now because I’m only getting drunk on beer.
      
  • I think I’m doing much better.  It used to take me days to get over a hangover and I felt so guilty.  But now I can get over a hangover quickly and not feel so bad.
After reading the above statements, what are your thoughts? 

Might some of your thoughts contain the following ideas?

An alcoholic is really addicted to alcohol in all its forms.  It doesn’t matter whether he drinks hard liquor or just beer or wine.  It’s all alcohol -- and a drunk is still a drunk.  One kind of drunk is not better than another.  His goal should be complete abstinence from all alcohol and never getting drunk again!

Shifting Gears

Now let’s shift gears to some statements I've actually heard from those of us who suffer from our own particular addiction.
  • I used to relapse by viewing pornography, but it’s not so bad now because I’m only relapsing by masturbating and not viewing.  
  • I think I’m doing much better.  It used to take me days to get over a relapse and I felt so guilty.  But now I can get over a relapse much quicker and not feel so much shame.

If we are tempted to use the above logic, are we being honest with ourselves?  

In reality, our addiction is not just to pornography.  Our addiction is really to lust, and the chemicals lust produces in our brain.

It doesn’t matter whether we view pornography, or masturbate, or participate in other sexual activities outside of marriage, the result in our brain is the same.  And a relapse is a relapse is a relapse, no matter the cause.  One relapse is not better than another.

Our Goal

Our goal should be complete sobriety and complete recovery, not just making relapses less painful or substituting masturbation for viewing – it’s all the same. 

Remember: Our ultimate goal is to overcome this addiction completely and never relapse again. 

And if that really is our goal, then sometime has to be the last time!  

So why not decide -- right now -- to make the last time you relapsed, really the last time?




What About Fred?

I want to tell you about Fred.  Fred realized some time ago that he really was addicted to lust, which included viewing pornography and masturbation.  Once he realized that it really was an addiction, he started coming to ARP meetings.

At the meetings he discovered what we all have experienced – he found he was no longer alone.  He found brotherhood, support, understanding, and love.  

He immediately recognized that, as it states in Step 1, that he really was powerless to overcome this addiction by himself.  If he wanted to overcome it he needed support – from God, from his Bishop, and from his new friends in ARP.  So he depended on all of them.

He started going through the steps and his life was getting better.  Along the way he met Sally, a wonderful young woman.  

They started dating and eventually he confided in her that he had an addiction, but that he was attending ARP meeting and working the steps.  She accepted what he told her and said that she would support him in his recovery.

Once he started seriously dating Sally, he decided to make it his goal to be worthy to be married in the temple.  

Their relationship progressed and Fred noticed that the temptations and triggers seemed to become less and less – perhaps he really was recovering – at least that’s what he thought.

During this same period of time, a person Fred respected explained a theory that made sense to Fred.  

This person explained that lust, including viewing pornography and masturbation were on the opposite end of a path that leads to marital intimacy.  

And the closer one got to marital intimacy the farther that person would be from their desire for lust.  See the diagram below.



The above diagram and the theory are totally wrong, but Fred didn’t know that at the time.

As time passed, Fred and Sally became closer and the temptations became less.
  
Finally Fred proposed and Sally accepted, and they made arrangements for be married in the temple.  

Fred’s bishop was very happy with the progress Fred had made in recovery and gave him a recommend for marriage without any reservations.
 
A different perspective

Let me deviate from this story for a moment to give you another perspective.  

Another player in this story is Satan.  He has his own plan for Fred and Sally.  

He wants to destroy both of them and their future family.  

So as Fred stared seriously dating Sally, Satan decided to reduce the triggers and temptations that Fred was dealing with, to give Fred a false sense of accomplishment.  

Satan wanted Fred to become complacent in his recovery and feel like he had things totally under control.  

He wanted Fred to lesson his need for support from friends in ARP, from his Bishop, and from the Lord.  He wanted Fred to decide that he was “no longer powerless” – that he was back in control without outside help. 

Satan wanted Fred and Sally to believe, as they got married that Fred no longer had a “problem.”
 
Now back to the story

Fred and Sally had a beautiful temple wedding and honeymoon.  Everything seemed to be going well and the theory explained by the diagram above seemed to be working. 

At the time of their marriage, because he was now comfortable in his recovery, he felt as if he had “graduated” from the 12 Step Program.  

So he stopped attending meetings – stopped doing his dailies – and stopped reaching out to his ARP friends.  That was no longer necessary – or so he thought.
 
Reality hits

But at some point in the coming weeks and months, Fred noticed a change.  Those triggers and temptations, that he thought he had left behind, started to come back.  

In fact he realized that, with marriage, there were even new stresses and problems.  And with each new stress or trigger he was tempted to run back to his old addiction.

But that shouldn’t be happening.  What about marital intimacy replacing the desire to act out??? 
Well what Fred didn’t recognize was that that theory was totally wrong.  Marital intimacy does not cure addiction.  

For some reason Fred never put two and two together.  If marital intimacy was the solution, then why were there so many married guys attending ARP meetings????

Below is a better diagram of the reality of the situation.  Marital Intimacy and Addiction are TWO SEPARATE paths.  They are not really related.  

The only thing they have in common is sometimes we use the word “sex” to describe each of them.  
Both of the paths below can and do exist at the same time.  But they do not overlap.

Now back to Fred

Finally Fred relapses, perhaps not just once but several times.  What is he to do?  How can he tell Sally?  

They both were convinced that Fred had recovered – that he no longer had to worry or deal with addiction.  

If he does tell Sally, what will she think?  Might she come to the conclusion that “she is not enough” -- that it is somehow her fault?   

Fred knows that’s not true, but can he risk talking to her about it?  Will she even understand?
Should he speak to his bishop?  Will the bishop even understand?  The bishop was so proud of him for overcoming his addiction. 

What about contacting his former friends in ARP?  Will they consider him a failure?  Can he take the risk?

All these questions are running through Fred's head.  His initial solution is to isolate himself, and pretend that everything is going well – just like he used to do prior to admitting he had an addiction in the first place.

Where is Satan in all of this?  As you might imagine, he is as happy as he can be.  He has Fred and Sally exactly where he wants them.  

Satan purposely reduced Fred’s temptations prior to his marriage to give Fred a false sense of security in his recovery.  

Then soon after Fred’s marriage Satan came back with a vengeance, causing Fred to relapse and go back into isolation and secrecy.  

Satan is wanting to destroy Fred’s future and the future of his family.  And he’s doing a pretty good job of it at the moment.
  
Advice for Fred

So do you have any advice for Fred????  Do you think he should continue on not talking to anyone about his addiction or his relapses and just keep it to himself?   Can he recover on his own?

If Fred were to ask me – and he hasn’t, I would suggest the following:
  • Tell Sally what is going on – but assure her that she is not the problem
  • Talk to your bishop and have him give you a blessing
  • Reach out to former friends in ARP.  They will understand and they will not judge you!
  • Start doing your dailies again – including personal prayer.  Couples prayer does not take the place of personal prayer.
  • Consider returning to ARP meetings – it doesn’t have to be the same meeting – pick one that you are comfortable with.  Here is a link to the current meetings in Utah County:  bit.ly/arp-meetings  The moment you show up, you will feel the same spirit that you felt before.
  • Start reviewing and working the 12 steps.
  • Invite your wife to attend the Spouse and Family Support group.  They have 12 separate topics to help wives.  They are also based on the Atonement Jesus Christ.
  • Consider attending a “couples group” with your wife.  There are two couples groups that meet weekly in Utah County – one on Friday and one on Saturday – they are very helpful!
  • Do not feel that you are starting over – you are not!  You are just picking up from where you left off.  You are not a failure – you are a hero for recognizing your need for the Savior and you desire to protect your family!
                                                                                
Conclusion

I have no idea if any of this story was helpful for you.  But there are Freds and Sallys out there.  

And these Freds feel trapped.  And these Sallys don't understand what happened to them. 

Both are wondering if there is any hope for their future.

The answer is a resounding "YES!"  There is hope in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and in the Church's Addiction Recovery Program.  

If we diligently follow the steps, attend meetings, pray with real intent, do our dailies, and reach out to Heavenly Father and our friends, we will succeed.

We should never give up on ourselves or on anyone else.

I have a testimony of that!!!!