What Is the 12-Step Recovery Program?

When encountering an addiction recovery program — whether for pornography, alcohol, drugs, or eating disorders — you will encounter a variation of the 12-step program.  In the 1930s, Alcoholics Anonymous was the first group to draft 12 steps to addiction recovery, and since then, other organizations and religious denominations have adopted similar steps.eDLHCtzRR0yfFtU0BQar_sylwiabartyzel_themap

Why do so many groups use the 12-step program? Because it works. The steps provide a map to your recovery through acceptance, selfless acts, and repentance. It breaks you out of isolation and forms connections through reliance on God and others for help and restitution.

What also makes the program effective is that it’s a life-long commitment. Once you have completed the steps yourself, you’re given the challenge to practice the principles again and again through aiding other people as they overcome their addictions.

We have published a series of articles based on the 12-step program, expanding on the principles of these programs. You can also visit Alcoholics Anonymous and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more information (the latter with minor variations on the former). Below are the current 12-step programs from Alcoholics Anonymous and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, demonstrating the differences.

No matter your religious beliefs or claimed denomination, you can find support and relief through utilizing these steps. We hope that you will join us in exploring the tried-and-tested 12 steps toward freedom from addictive oppression.

  Alcoholics Anonymous Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
1 We admitted we were powerless over [our addictions]—that our lives had become unmanageable. Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.
2 Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.
3 Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
4 Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Make a searching and fearless written moral inventory of yourself.
5 Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 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 Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.
7 Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.
8 Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.
9 Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Wherever possible, make direct restitution to all persons you have harmed.
10 Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.
11 Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 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 the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to [others battling pornography addictions], and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, share the message with others and practice these principles in all you do.

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4 Ways that Covenant Eyes Can Protect Your Family

The age of internet has made pornography so prevalent that most teenagers and young adults consider not recycling more immoral than viewing porn.

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Sure, recycling is important. But it’s likely that the general population of teens is unaware of just how harmful pornography is from the inside out. Thankfully, internet filtering systems like Covenant Eyes can give your family some protection from these harms. Here are four ways that Covenant Eyes can help your family:

  1. Customized filters for every family member

The average age of pornography exposure and addiction are the same: Age 11. (2) Since this is the case, it’s true when Covenant Eyes’ website says “One wrong click can change a life.” Internet filters are a great tool to protect pre-teens from unwanted exposure to pornography. Covenant Eyes lets you customize your internet filter settings to the ages and needs of your family. You can create custom lists of blocked sites for each person or device in your home—you can even turn off the internet completely at certain times of day. It’s designed for your family, whatever your needs are.
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  1. Accountability for you and your spouse

Most people who have ever tried to start a new workout program know that it helps to have a buddy—someone who is counting on you to get up, show up, and not give up. When you are trying to reach a goal, it helps to have someone on your side. Covenant Eyes has an internet accountability feature that lets you report to one specific person on your internet use. You can identify a coach for yourself—be it a spouse or a parent—and account to just that person on your progress.

  1. Get reports on what’s happening in your home

Internet accountability also lets you parent in a way that will build trust and openness among the members of your family. This feature sends reports to you so that you can see what websites and levels of content are being viewed in your home. Covenant Eyes explains it this way on their website: “Internet accountability is a report of what you see and do online, designed to start a conversation, helping everyone in your home make wiser choices about Internet use.” (3)

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  1. Overcome Porn: The 40 Day Challenge App

If you or someone in your family is struggling with a pornography addiction, there’s an app for that. Covenant Eyes released a new app for iPhone that gives you inspiring messages, prompts for reflection and a tracker to help you chart your progress. An Android app will be released in 2017.

Covenant Eyes was designed with the idea that every family is unique. Understanding your family’s needs, you can use internet filtering and accountability in tailored ways that will do the most good. It’s more important than ever to create a plan so that pornography doesn’t become commonplace in your home. You can check out more and buy the product at www.covenanteyes.com.

Download the iPhone app
Setting Up the iPhone app

Download the Android app
Configuring the Android app

Oh, and be sure to recycle.

 

 

Sources:

  1. “The Porn Phenomenon: Survey of U.S. Teens & Adults.” Covenant Eyes Comparisons/Barna Group. January 19, 2016
  2. “Healing Hidden Wounds.” Jennifer Grace Fallon, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Ensign. September 2016.
  3. “What is Internet Accountability?” Covenant Eyes: Internet Accountability and Filtering. October 20, 2016. Web. http://www.covenanteyes.com/services/internet-accountability/

 

 

Finding a Voice: Cynthia’s Story

Names have been changed for privacy.
Originally published August 23, 2016

I’m a therapist. I’ve heard arguments that pornography is a cultural, religious, or a moral dilemma. I argue that porn is a real problem, and it has been very real, personal, and first-hand for me.

For years in my marriage, my husband was emotionally distant. We didn’t have a relationship. After dinner, my husband would help me put the children to bed and disappear for hours on the computer, sometimes until four in morning. We were seldom intimate. I was the one rejected by my husband and felt emotionally abandoned. I was young and naive. I knew something was wrong in my marriage, but I didn’t know what. I read several relationship books in order to fix things, and nothing seemed to work.

I questioned if it was me. I had an inkling that just maybe it was porn; he had passwords on his computer, which was turned away or in another room. But I believed I had to have proof. I would interrupt him at odd hours and find him playing games. I thought I was wrong, and my husband often told me I was too needy. Marriage was a big commitment, and I tried hard to make it work.

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It soon became clear that my husband was lying: He used the credit card without telling me. He went to huge lengths to hide his smoking and other habits by washing his hands and changing his clothes. Finally, we went to marriage counseling about his dishonesty and emotional unavailability. I asked him if there was anything else I needed to know about, and he said no. After marriage counseling, I hoped we were better; I made myself believe we were better. I decided to have another baby because I thought it would take attention off our foundering marriage.CFD-IPHONE-Original-ForWeb

At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom of two children. My husband didn’t want me to work, and for years, I didn’t have a car. It seemed I couldn’t get out of the house or out from under his thumb. While I was eight months pregnant with my third child, I found pornography on his computer. At the time I wasn’t ready to deal with anything more. Mentally, I put it aside. Once in a great while, my husband became the man I married, and I remembered why I tried to make it work. So was the case after our baby. He was present for the birth, but he soon reverted back to his ways of spending countless hours on the computer and seldom being available. Fortunately, I had a good friend and neighbor who told me to talk to my husband about the porn. When I confronted him, he admitted to having a problem with pornography.

He told me he couldn’t stop and needed help. I was very angry, mostly because of the lies. He had opportunities when we went to marriage counseling to come clean, but he didn’t. I didn’t know if I could trust him because of this pattern of lying and hiding behavior.

Lying was worse than the pornography. I also felt angry and betrayed because my husband had chosen pornography over intimacy with me. Our sexual life was pretty non-existent, one or two times a month, while he was looking at pornography and masturbating every day.

I felt very unattractive and worthless. I was also very angry because to society’s standards I had a good body and was thin to the point of being skinny.  I remember yelling, “I could be a porn star! Maybe I should, so you would look at me!”

I thought about leaving him, but decided to stay with him if he went to counseling. We found LifeStar, a sexual addiction recovery program. It was life-changing for me. Sexual addiction wasn’t about sex, but how he felt about himself and dealt with emotions. I learned to set boundaries with my husband and other people, which was big for me because I tended to say yes when I wanted to say no. I learned to take care of myself and make myself a priority because I put everyone else first. I learned I had a voice.

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I was empowered to go back to school for a career and stand up to my husband. For the first time, I realized I could choose to be happy, and I was only responsible for me. The healthier I became the worse my husband was with looking at pornography. He increased it at work and lost his job. I issued him an ultimatum: get it together or I was leaving, and I kicked him out of the house. He sunk lower, and I moved myself and the children to my mom’s. I realized he wanted and was excited by what he couldn’t have. If he could have me, he didn’t want me. If another guy wanted to date me, he was interested.

WomanThere is a flash of hope for those who lose everything and come face to face with their truth. My husband did a 180 and told me he had kept me away to protect himself. It made me determined and passionate about fighting pornography and sexual addiction. I was involved in S-Anon and presented at a conference for social change. I continued my progress in school, earning my bachelor’s degree, and applied for graduate school. By that time, I had determined to be a therapist to give back, working with trauma and sexual addiction. I was able to come full circle. I found myself on the other end of LifeStar, being a facilitator and clinician instead of a client. I’ve seen many lives impacted by pornography and those who have an addiction, staying up all night, not taking showers, looking at it at work, losing their religious status, and going to prostitutes. I’ve seen marriages destroyed and hearts-broken over porn. I’ve seen lives destroyed.

But I also see hope. There is hope in education and talking to our children about the falsehood of pornography. There is hope in society when women are treated with respect and not just used as sex symbols or demeaned in porn.

It’s time to get real about beauty and what makes a woman truly beautiful—not the photo-shopped, heavily-made up girl you can’t have, but the one who stands by your side, supports you, and loves you. Love can heal and is perhaps the biggest fighter. I learned through my journey to love and validate myself, which is the biggest empowerment of all.

If we stand idly by and let pornography destroy the lives of great men and women, we are letting society fail. By actively raising awareness and helping those who are struggling overcome this plague, we are choosing to protect families, individuals, and society.

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Rise Above Porn 5K

Join us in a run to #riseaboveporn Saturday, July 9, 2016, at Smith Park in Rexburg, Idaho (E Main St & N 3rd E, Rexburg, Idaho 83440).

This Cops and Robbers themed 5K is a community-based event for all ages. Run to help to increase awareness of the effect pornography has on individuals, families, and communities. Festivities will begin at 9am with a brief informational program on the problems of pornography as well as empowering messages on defeating its grasp.

Each runner will wear an adjustable waistband that has two detachable flags on it. At a specific point in the course, volunteers from the sheriff’s department will chase the runners in an attempt to gather their flags. Every flag left on the runner’s waistband can be redeemed for an extra raffle ticket. Refreshments will be provided after the race.

Be sure to register early to receive discounts on registration fees! Tee shirts are included in the price of registration. On site registration will be open at 9:00 am and will cost an extra 5 dollars for every participant. cops and robbers

Free Seminar in Provo

Join us on March 31 at the Provo City Council Chambers as Todd Weiler discusses the new resolution and learn about ways you can protect yourself and your family against pornography as well as how to get involved in the fight against this disease.

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UCAP and Resolutions

We have had a busy and exciting weekend!

On March 11, 2016, the Utah State Legislature unanimously agreed that pornography is a public health crisis, and we want to thank Senator Todd Weiler for his work in promoting this resolution and increasing awareness. According to Senator Weiler, at least ten more states are considering creating similar policies.

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One day later, we had the opportunity to meet Senator Weiler while we attended the UCAP Conference held in Salt Lake. We also (finally) met our fellow interns based in Provo, and were able to attend multiple sessions discussing different aspects of pornography. And Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was the keynote speaker.

“Society must see this evil like the epidemic it is,” he said. “This ought to be seen like a public health crisis, like a war, like an infectious fatal epidemic, like a moral plague on the body politic that is maiming the lives of our citizens.”

Elder Holland told attendees that using pornography is adultery. It is looking at another woman with lust. Further, according to LDS scriptures, “he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:23).

He gave the following advice to those struggling with a pornography addiction: hold FAST, which stands for flea, ask, strive, and triumph.

Fifteen years ago, UCAP saw 200 people at their conference. This weekend, almost 3000 people came to the conference, according to Pamela Atkinson, board chair of UCAP. The fight against pornography is becoming more pronounced, and we were thrilled to be a part of the movement in Utah.

Pamela issued the challenge of sharing what you have learned with at least five people—we want to pass this challenge on to you. Share something you’ve learned about the dangers of or recovery from a pornography addiction with five people you love.

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Steps 1-3: Admit, Believe, Decide

This article is part of a series about the 12-step program. For more information, read The 12-Step Recovery Program by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints.

One of the most remarkable miracles performed by Jesus Christ was walking on water (Matthew 14). On a stormy night, he walked to the wave-tossed ship that his disciples sailed in. Among them was Peter who asked Him, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Jesus said, “Come,” and Peter walked toward Him. After a moment, Peter sank, and Jesus caught him and inquired, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

The story of Peter is a parable as much as it is a miracle. Rarely do you begin life sinking. Rather, you are full of hope and faith in the days ahead of you. Inevitably, the waves and the wind will crash against you; addiction and other distresses and temptations will come your way. If you let them, they can bring you down, and they can lead to loss of faith. That is when you sink.

But the story of Peter isn’t about losing faith. It’s about Peter — when he was sinking, when his faith was faltering, when the wind and the waves were too strong for him to stand on his own — reaching up to the Savior and crying, “Lord, save me!”

1. Admit that you are powerless.

Addiction does not enable you. It does not aid you. It does not empower you in any way. It is the waves and the wind, pushing you down, deeper and deeper, until you are drowning in its effects.

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Accepting this is vital to overcoming addiction.

The first step of recovery is admittance. As mentioned in Road to Recovery: Owning the Addiction, this step is important in overcoming addiction. Change cannot happen until you know what needs to change. You need to realize and admit that you are powerless and need outside help.

2. Believe the power of God will restore you.

When he realized he was sinking, Peter sought aid from the source he knew was greatest. Though he lacked faith to continue walking on the stormy sea, he believed in the power of Jesus Christ.

Through believing in and seeking the enabling power of God, you can find the strength to overcome addiction. This greater power will restore your spirituality, making you whole again.

3. Decide to turn your will and life to God.

Through admittance, you realize you are powerless. Through believing, you know you need God. Through deciding, you give your will to Him.

This step is where belief becomes faith, and faith becomes action. This is where you actively and earnestly decide to put your life in God’s hands. This is where you cry along with Peter, “Lord, save me!”

When Peter sought Jesus’ help, “immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand” to pull him out of the water. Though Peter had a moment of sinking, he went on to be the head of Christianity and a missionary of faith and hope. He went from a shaking man to a man with unshakable faith.

When going through the 12-step program, remember this: There is hope. Though all you can see around you is the wind and the waves, there is hope.

When you reach out to Him, He will instantly reach out to you, too.

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Steps 4 & 5: Honest Confession

This article is part of a series about the 12-step program. For more information, read The 12-Step Recovery Program by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints.

Now is the time to act.

You have admitted that you’re powerless. You have come to believe that there is One powerful enough to change and restore you. You have decided to give Him your will. This requires action. You must act to take these next few steps and make them more concrete, more tangible.

Now is the time to be honest.

These steps require integrity to the fullest. Being honest with yourself and others is necessary to make progress with your recovery.

4. Write a searching, fearless moral inventory.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an Addiction Recovery Program that walks people step by step via videos, scriptures, study material, and other supplements. The following video shows value in making a searching, fearless moral inventory. It also shows value in writing an account of your deeds and behaviors.

Step four: truth

5. Admit to God, yourself and others your wrongdoings.

In step four, you move from intangible faith to tangible records. In this step, you move from inward admittance to outward confession. You not only admit the nature of your wrongdoings to yourself and God, but you also find confidentiality in others, whether it be a parent, spouse, close friend, counselor, bishop, or other third party.

Isolation is a part of addiction. You are embarrassed, ashamed, and uncomfortable with yourself; however, letting others in erases the loneliness, and connection is essential in recovery.  Admitting to another person your problems lifts your burdens.

Remember to be honest with yourself and others. Talking aloud to someone else helps you achieve that honesty. Verbally expressing your addiction is part of the recovery process. You admit and come to terms that you have a problem.

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Once again, be honest. Don’t sugarcoat it. When you do the moral inventory, write it as it is. When you admit your addiction to someone, say it as it is. It’s easy to justify and excuse your actions, but this will only hold you back.

You can’t progress until you are completely honest and entirely engaged. You can’t move if you have your feet in two places at once. You can’t indulge in or rationalize your addiction and be on the road to recovery.

Be fully committed. Be courageous.

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Steps 6 & 7: Readiness and Humility

This article is part of a series of articles about the 12-step program.  For more information, read “The 12-Step Recovery Program.”

You admitted to yourself and others of your addiction. You obtained faith in the power of God.  You exercised agency to practice complete honesty.  These steps and principles don’t disappear when you complete them. Each builds on the ones before it.  Overcoming your addiction requires a continuous effort to practice them.

For steps 6 and 7, having faith in the power of God is essential to continue on the road to recovery.

“A certain man had two sons…” And so begins what might be the most known and recalled parable of Jesus Christ, the parable of the prodigal son. What makes this story so special in Christian theology is that every person can find ways to apply the characterizations of the two sons to their own lives, regardless of background, gender, or age. Those who have been affected by pornography usually see in themselves the younger brother, the prodigal son, the one who strayed and then returned to his father.

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

To be ready, you need to have a change of heart. You need to believe in your recovery, and you need to overcome pride in thinking you can do it alone. Thus, becoming ready includes becoming humble.

4543063042_f74bdb496d_oThe story of the prodigal son doesn’t end with him feeding pigs. It continues with a realization. Before the prodigal son finally returned to his father, he held onto the thought that he could make it on his own and tried to support himself by eating the pig’s leftovers. In this depressing state, he “came to himself” and realized that he needed his father, like all of us when we, too, are at our lowest point.

7. Humbly ask God to remove your shortcomings.

Like the prodigal son, you have to look inward and adopt humility. When you realize your spiritual, mental, and emotional poverty, you should look inward. Finding this humility helps you remember that God can restore eternal wealth and richness in your lives. He can remove all of your weaknesses and shortcomings.

After his epiphany, the prodigal son returned to his father who ran to him and embraced and kissed him, despite his ragged appearance and rebellious past.

On this touching scene, Jeffrey R. Holland, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “[This] tender image…is one of the most moving and compassionate scenes in all of holy writ. It tells every child of God, wayward or otherwise, how much God wants us back in His protection of His arms.”

As mentioned before, the previous principles apply to these steps, especially faith. Remember step two: come to believe that the power of God can restore you to complete spiritual health.

God wants to help. He, like the prodigal son’s father, will run toward you to comfort you, protect you, and once again hold you in His loving embrace.

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Steps 8 & 9: Making Restitution

This article is part of a series of articles about the 12-step program.  For more information, read “The 12-Step Recovery Program.”

The next two steps focus on making amends, or restitution.

Depending on its context, “restitution” can mean different things. It can be the restoration of something lost or stolen, or, with law, it can be an act of justice through payment for harm done. For the 12-step program, restitution is a mixture of both of these. It is the act of making amends for harms you have done in connection to your pornography addiction. It is also an act of restoration for yourself—spiritually, mentally, physically — and for your relationships with others.

8. Make a list of everyone you have harmed and be willing to make restitution to them.

In step 4, you wrote a moral inventory, focusing on yourself. In step 8, you will make another list, focusing on those around you. You will think about every person you have negatively affected. When was it? What were you doing? How did you hurt them?

This will be hard. It may even be awkward, but it will be worth it. Realizing who you’ve harmed is part of your journey of change and path to recovery. It will require a humble heart, charity, and complete honesty.

Once you have your list, move onto step 9, where you will make direct restitution.15297049216_10209f1b8f_k

9. Make direct restitution to everyone you have harmed.

You may know Zacchaeus as the man of so “little in stature” that he had to climb a sycamore tree to see Jesus. His story is more than a lesson in climbing trees; it is a lesson in making amends.

Zacchaeus was a wealthy publican, a tax collector. He and the other publicans were disliked by the Jews because they were often considered greedy and dishonest. Zacchaeus himself was called a “sinner,” but Zacchaeus had such a change of heart that he made complete restitution to those he offended. He explained how he did this to Jesus: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (Luke 19:8).

You can learn from Zacchaeus. Regardless of who he was before, at that moment, he was a humble man full of charity. He was willing to give all he had to make restitution for his wrongdoings.

On your road to recovery, you will need to draw on the principles you learned in previous steps. Through prayer, humbly seek the guidance of God to know who to put on your list and how to make restitution. He can give you power to right your wrongs and mend others’ and  your wounds if you are honest with yourself and others.

Know that He can give you courage to progress.

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