Addictions and Recovery

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Russell M. Nelson Mormon Apostle
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church, has received a health code by commandment from God through modern prophets, called the Word of Wisdom. Latter-day Saints are commanded not to drink coffee, tea, or alcohol, use tobacco products, illegal drugs, or to abuse legal drugs. The reasons are not just to enhance health, but to guarantee "free agency." One's agency, or freedom to choose, is compromised by addiction to anything. Therefore, the Church has also spoken out against addictive and destructive behaviors, such as gambling and indulging in pornography. Addictive substances and behaviors do not just compromise agency, they corrupt the mind and body until the Holy Ghost cannot abide in the unholy tabernacle. Therefore, the addicted person finds himself without the constant companionship of the Holy Spirit to guide him. Russell M. Nelson, an apostle of Jesus Christ, has said,
We are free to take drugs or not. But once we choose to use a habit-forming drug, we are bound to the consequences of that choice. Addiction surrenders later freedom to choose. Through chemical means, one can literally become disconnected from his or her own will!” [1]

A third consequence of addiction is that many crimes and unfortunate incidents are committed by individuals who have surrendered their bodies and minds to addictive substances. Because addictions rob an individual of his or her self-control and of his ability to make smart choices, these addictions often lead to bad behavior and feelings of frustration and a loss of self-worth. Satan will use any means he can, including addictions, to control one's thoughts and actions and to make one forget that he is a child of God. Many studies have proven the connection between alcohol use and sexual transgression, and drug use and crime.

However, Mormon Church leaders and members recognize the potential for good in every person, and the Church realizes that it is not enough just to warn against addictive substances and behaviors. Mormon Church doctrine teaches that every man or woman who is willing to overcome temptations and addictions and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ will eventually return to live in the presence of God. Although the Mormon Church teaches that addiction to harmful and the use of unhealthy or illegal substances are contrary to the will of God, Mormons believe that every person can, with the help of Jesus Christ, concerned family members, and others, overcome addictions and temptations. The Church has even established protocols to provide help, through training of lay leadership, informing the membership, providing counsel and encouragement at General Conferences, and sponsoring Church-established programs. [1]


Fortunately, there is help. Recovery is possible for every individual who is willing to trust God and work hard.

A Mormon Church publication, speaking on the topic of helping family members overcome addictions, printed the following:

Family members will find that love is more effective than shame or control in motivating addicts to change... If addicts feel shame—in other words, if they feel that they are inherently bad or unworthy because of their addiction—they may turn to alcohol or drugs to help dull the pain associated with that shame. Christ-like love, on the other hand, can give an addict hope and can help change the most desperate situation. But love doesn’t mean acceptance of sinful behavior. [2]

The LDS Church sponsors addiction recovery support meetings to assist individuals who desire freedom from addiction and a better life through gospel fellowship. Click on the link to see a list of regional programs. [2]

Additionally, The Social and Emotional Strength link at can lead one to more resources, including "A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing," a new booklet that is also available from distribution centers or at (item #36764). The booklet is both a workbook and a guide to go along with the addiction recovery support groups run by LDS Family Services.

There are close to 1,300 LDS Addiction Recovery Support Groups held in Mormon meetinghouses, prisons and jails around the world. The majority are located in the United States and Canada, but there are also programs in Australia, Norway, Finland, England, Korea and Mexico, to name a few.

The most common meeting is for general addictions, including alcohol, drugs, gambling and eating disorders. The second most common meeting is for pornography addiction. The least common gathering is a family support meeting, which focuses on helping the addict's family members.

The meetings are officiated by part-time LDS Church service missionaries, typically older couples. Another key person at the meeting is the facilitator, a person who has overcome addiction through the 12 steps. Having dealt with similar problems, the facilitator offers experience, insight and understanding to recovering addicts.

With permission from Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., LDS Family Services put the original 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous into a framework of the doctrines, principles and beliefs of the LDS Church, with the central focus on the atonement and saving grace of Jesus Christ. In addition to the meetings, LDS Family Services has published a workbook, translated into 23 different languages, for people who don't currently have meetings in their area. An individual can go through the program with his or her bishop. [3]

The Twelve Steps

1. Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.

2. Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.

3. Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.

4. Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself.

5. Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs.

6. Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.

7. Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.

8. Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.

9. Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.

10. Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.

11. Seek through prayer and meditation to know the Lord's will and to have the power to carry it out.

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.


  1. Russell M. Nelson, “Addiction or Freedom,” Ensign, Nov 1988, 6.
  2. Corrie Lynne Player, Ensign, Jan. 2005.

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