Connections between addiction recovery and the Book of Mormon
Koji Sasahara, Associated Press
Many have read the words of Proverbs chapter 29, verse 18, which says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
"But what happens where there is vision?" J. Douglas LeCheminant asked the class of a few hundred seated in the N. Eldon Tanner Building during Brigham Young University's Campus Education Week. "Where there is vision, the people flourish."
LeCheminant, a group manager for LDS Family Services who resides in Atlanta, shared the scriptural thought in the context of addiction recovery. His presentation was titled, "Where There is Vision, the People Flourish: Addiction Recovery Narratives, Metaphors and Language found in the Book of Mormon."
LeCheminant said anyone can find and develop a vision for any goal using the Book of Mormon, with help from the standard works and words of living prophets and apostles.
"When you are a missionary, every scripture becomes a missionary scripture," he said, adding the Book of Mormon can be viewed through any lens, including addiction recovery.
Before getting very deep into the Book of Mormon, LeCheminant outlined the benefits of the Addiction Recovery Program, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his years of experience, he has seen strong evidence that a positive ARP experience may result in a restoration of hope, a high level of engagement in the program, and a positive meeting experience, as well as internalized and externalized gospel living.
LeCheminant told the story of a young man recovering from a pornography addiction who asked if "someone working on the 12 steps could hold a temple recommend?"
LeCheminant was impressed with the young man's question. The young man eventually discovered that recovery, like repentance, is a life-long process.
"Getting a temple recommend would of course be his priesthood leader's decision," LeCheminant said, "but it would be more likely to happen than if he was not working on the 12 steps."
While discussing the power of the 12-step process, he quoted from Elder Paul E. Koellike's April general conference talk, "He Truly Loves Us."
"Patterns are templates, guides, repeating steps, or paths one follows to stay aligned with God’s purpose. If followed, they will keep us humble, awake, and able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit from those voices that distract us and lead us away."
LeCheminant pointed out several Book of Mormon references where the Lord is using language of patience and hope, important keys in the road to recovery. The Lord is patient and will not give up on people, he said.
"How oft will I gather you," is repeatedly found in 3rd Nephi 10.
Many in addiction recovery relate well to the war chapters of the Book of Mormon because recovery "is a battle," LeCheminant said, so they see the wars as metaphors. Lessons on shame and humility can be found in reading various chapters in Alma. He shared an example from Alma 62:41, contrasting how some were hardened by affliction and some were softened.
"Shame hardens you, leads you to rationalize and be defensive," LeCheminant said. "Humility leads you take advice and be corrected."
LeCheminant closed his remarks by recounting the story of how converted Lamanites, called the people of Ammon and later the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, were given the land of Jershon, a metaphor for how a community can help care for recovering addicts. The Nephites not only gifted the land as an inheritance for the new converts, but they also provided food and army protection.
For more information on the LDS Church's addiction recovery program, visit arp.lds.org.
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