What is the Church's Addiction Recovery Program?
By harveyf
2/21/2009 12:55:02 PM
The following is just one person’s observation of this program: I am not an expert of any kind, except for the 35+ years spent as an addict. I have since found some measure of peace and success in the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program. I do not speak for the program in any way. The info is as accurate as I could get.

What is the Church's Addiction Recovery Program?

(ARP) acronym for Addiction Recovery Program and is for ALL addictions:
(PASG) acronym for Pornography Addiction Support Group and is ONLY for sexual addictions.

25% of all groups sponsored by the Church is a PASG group.

In short the program is an Atonement Utilization Program--or in other words Repentance for Dummies

It is a 12-step program centered on our Savior, Jesus Christ, teaching how to utilize the Atonement in behalf of those who suffer from addictions and weaknesses.

What is the History of the program?
About 1990 an organization called Heart to Heart, with permission from AA, formed a 12-step program and support group, with the program being adapted to Book of Mormon and gospel principals. In 1999 LDS Family Services came to Heart to Heart and adopted their program and their textbook “He Did Deliver Me From Bondage”. Part time service missionaries were called to be group leaders for the 12 step meetings…and the ARP program was born. The next milestone was in 2004 immediately after Pres Hinckley's talk in the Oct 04 conference on pornography. A division was made for those suffering from sexual addictions--they called it a PASG group. Partly because of the shame and secrecy involved in sexual addictions along with the sheer numbers of Latter-day Saints involved, this meeting merited its own venue.

In 2006 the Church came out with its own guide book. The material in part came from addicts and Church leaders, therapists, and leaders from other 12 step groups. In 2007 the program was introduced outside the US and the number of missionaries reached to about 1500. In 2008 the number of missionaries and facilitators serving in the program climbed to over 2000, and the program is now more unified. LDS family services has made materials for training and provided a script for use so that all meetings are uniform.

Who is in charge of this program?
LDS Family Services is where the church put this program under, this is where you contact to find out where meetings are held, and for the contact info of group leaders. NOTE: the program is run independent of the main Family Services Program. The group leaders are not therapists or councilors and have no other authority except the 12 step program. Unlike many LDS Family Services programs, there is never a charge for ARP services. The head of the ARP program in a given location is the Program Coordinator. The Coordinator has the Stake Presidents and Bishops call part-time service missionaries. These missionaries are to run the 12 step meetings, are set apart by their Bishop for this calling, and serve from 6 months to 2 1/2 years.

Why have we not heard of it before?
Confidentiality and anonymity, which are crucial anchors of the program, are not helpful when it comes to getting the word out. Many Bishops are unaware of this great resource and in many places there is no program. If there is not a program, do not despair. All that is needed to start a group is a willing Stake President. He only has to request that a group be formed. He fills out a request form and turns it in to his closest LDS Family Services. Then the Stake President instructs a Bishop to call 2 people to run a group and find a room in a chapel in which they can meet. The missionary form is the standard church service missionary form A missionary must be temple worthy and be willing to serve about 10 hours a month. YES this is a volunteer calling; you do not have to wait to be called to serve. When a group is started, usually two missionaries are called--one to be the group leader (the group leader must dress in Sunday clothes), and everyone else is permitted to dress casually. The other half of the team is a facilitator. The facilitator does not have to be a missionary or have a temple recommend. It is most effective if they have been through the program and is a recovering addict. They do need to have some sobriety and their Bishop has to sign off on the application.

What goes on in a meeting ?

All meetings are held in Church buildings, usually away from other meetings, and usually in a part of the building that is more private, with its own entrance. Above all anonymity is crucial, it is important that participants feel safe coming and that they won't be recognized going into a meeting. Signs should indicate only that this is an LDS Family Services meeting. There should be signs directing participants to the meeting room at all entrances to the Church. The dress is casual, only first names are used. Even titles such as Bishop and President are not used in this setting--we are all equals and go by our first names--even the missionaries go by their first names. The chairs are all in a circle, or semi circle. Interesting note: many participants do NOT attend their home ward or stake group, but go as far away as possible to avoid recognition.
The meeting starts with a welcome by the group leader and introduction of themselves and the facilitator. Participants are asked that cell phones be turned off. A volunteer is asked to say the opening prayer, (non-members, former members, and dis fellowshipped members may pray….this is not an "official church meeting".

The mission statement is read. Any announcements and the general format of the meeting is given to newcomers. The 12 steps are read by the group, each person reading a step, and then the lesson is read, everyone reading a paragraph. It is perfectly permissible, if someone does not want to read, to simply pass. The lesson usually lasts 10 to12 minutes. The meeting is then turned over to the facilitator who conducts the sharing portion of the meeting. Each person is given the opportunity to share. If someone does not want to share, they just state their name and say that they pass for now. After everyone has had the chance to share and there is time remaining, the meeting is opened for anyone to share. The remaining time is used up; the meeting should not go over time. Sharing may be about the lesson or about anything going on in their life that might be of benefit to others. The sharing is a safe place to open up. No matter what is shared, profound or not so profound, at the end of a person’s sharing, everyone says thanks “(Name)”.

Sharing is like a focused subject, testimony meeting. No one is interrupted while sharing, no preaching is allowed; everything said is in the "I" form and not the "you" form.
After sharing the group leader gives some closing thoughts and a closing prayer is given.

Here in Las Vegas we have a groups for women that are for womens issues: divorce, depression, grief ect. Anything life thows at you where you are in need of the Saviors Atonement, the program is for everybody and deals with much more than addictions.

Alll programs are not created equal ! there are many flaws, the program is a work in progress, but it is the ONLY one the Church has sponsored and put its stamp of approval on!

I hope this info is of interest. I would love to hear from others about their experience with the program. If my info is wrong please let me know , I know that the history of how the program came to be is in question. The program may be ran differently in other areas, but that is how its done in our neck of the woods


My 1 1/2 bits    
"I think one of everyone's scariest experiences in recovery is walking into their first meeting. I think your detailed description is good for putting people a bit more at ease. They will probably be still scared , but not scared to death. Thanks Harvey.

To those that have never been to a meeting, I want to add that it is worth getting passed whatever fears are holding you back. You will never find a more loving, accepting group in the church. I thought they would reject me because of my porn addiction, but they didn’t. My wife thought they would belittle her eating addiction, but they didn’t. They don’t care what your problem is. It doesn’t even have to be an addiction. If you have a problem you would like to work through and get over this is the group to meet with. It is just a powerful way to apply the atonement.

Even as uniform as the program is getting, there still may be some differences in various areas. You may not see a sign on every door. In our area you may only find one or two doors with signs, but they are usually close to the room where the meeting is. They may say addiction recovery meeting on them. I’ve noticed that not all the schedules list the pornography meetings as PASG meetings, but if they have a pornography meeting it does cover all sexual issues. Pornography is just a more acceptable term in the church.

I would encourage anyone that doesn't have meetings in their area to get one. I like meetings that aren't affiliated with the church. I'm a porn addict, but I currently attend AA and SA4LDS as well as ARP and PASG meetings. But there is something special about meetings that incorporate the fullness of the Gospel. I'll never forget the first time I heard the LDS steps read that referred to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ! We had a guy drive almost 4 hours every week to get to our PASG meeting, stay over night with his sister and then drive the 4 hours back the next day. He did that for a number of months. We had two couples drive over an hour each way from Wyoming for over a year to get to our meeting. They felt it was worth it. One of my friends put it this way. “AA got me out of Hell. The LDS meetings are going to take me to Heaven.”

Like Harvey said you can work through your local priesthood leaders to get the program. LDS Family Services exists to serve the local priesthood leaders. If they tell LDSFS they want a meeting, they get one. I knew a woman that started in the program in the county jail. Her husband was in the Utah State Prison. They had been running a meth lab in their home. Their kids were still wards of the state when I first met her. After attending meetings for a while, I didn't see anymore. The next time I saw her at a meeting she was with her husband. He had been working the program and attending meetings in prison and then after getting out they got custody of their kids and found a job up in Idaho. They both felt like they needed a meeting and so they told their bishop. He told them to get the information and they would start one. They came back to our area to find out what they needed. The program has made a lot of progress since then. I was talking to someone a little while ago who had been part of a training video so that people in outlying areas can actually see what a meeting is like before they try to set one up. They want it to be easy for those who have never been to a meeting to start there own.

The PASG meetings actually started because a porn addict felt the need. Not to be argumentative, but it had been going for a couple of years before Pres. Hinckley's talk. We did get 4 newcomers at our meeting the week after he spoke in conference. Drew H. was a porn addict and a facilitator in ARP. He felt porn addicts needed their own meeting so they would be more comfortable and able to share more. Most of the ones I knew didn't ever refer to pornography in the meetings and just introduced themselves as addicts. He asked a number of us that he had gotten to know if we would attend if they had a “men's meeting” for porn addicts. Then he took the list to Stan Cooper our mission coordinator and told him he had that many guys that would come to a meeting if they held one. On the first Thursday in March 2002 the “unofficial” pilot program began in Kaysville, UT. I saw a presentation on it later that said it started in April. It turned out that was because the LDSFS director wasn't told until it had been going for a month. It became the official pilot program a little after that. Stan was the first missionary and Drew the first facilitator for what later became known as PASG meetings. We pushed them to start a women's meeting for the spouses because many of them felt even more alone than we did.

The important point is that if you have a need for a meeting or an additional meeting, convince your leaders and get one. All you need is a place to meet, one or two missionaries and a facilitator. The facilitator doesn't even have to be a member. When they were putting together the first meeting in Wyoming none of the member addicts felt ready to facilitate so they asked a non-member that had a lot of sobriety and experience in AA. He interviewed with the bishop and he was their first facilitator.

Get what you need to recover."
posted at 22:54:11 on February 25, 2009 by justjohn
"Glad to find this info"
posted at 16:49:19 on August 23, 2015 by Anonymous

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"Brothers and sisters, stay on the straight and narrow path. No, stay in the middle of the straight and narrow path. Don't drift; don't wander; don't dabble; be careful. Remember, do not flirt with evil. Stay out of the devil's territory. Do not give Satan any home-field advantage. Living the commandments will bring you the happiness that too many look for in other places. "

— Larry W. Gibbons

General Conference October 2006