Help. Hope. Healing.

What is the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program ?

By harveyfo



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 and am now serving as a missionary group leader in the PASG program for almost 4 years. The following materials I have either written or borrowed (with permission) from other group leaders.  I do not speak for the program in any official capacity, I only share my observations. The information 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.



With Alcoholics Anonymous’s Permission, the 12-step program and Support Groups are Adapted to the Book of Mormon and Gospel Principals

  • meetings are confidential
  • Only first names are ever used.
  • No referral is required
  • No charge, ever
  • Dress code is casual
  • Meetings are ongoing, and available almost every day
  • Meetings are held in LDS churches, and in prisons and jails
  • The program acts as a bridge or a link into full fellowship in the church




We teach participants to pray, read their scriptures, attend regular church meetings and come to

 Addiction Recovery Program meetings to overcome the overwhelming feelings of guilt,

disappointment, failure, shame and hopelessness.



Each step teaches a principle relating to the process of repentance. For example, Step 5 states

 “admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being (this is usually the Bishop) the

exact nature of our wrong”.



Many times Bishops attend group meetings with a ward member. This helps “break the ice” until

that person feels comfortable in the group. Inactive members feel welcome in a comfortable,

informal Church setting. Bishops are being overwhelmed by addictions. Finally, here is a place

and a program where one can find help for those of their flock who are in such need in their lives,

 a place that is free, ongoing, Church run, and where help is available almost daily.




We see many types of compulsive addictive behaviors including Drugs, Alcohol, Workaholism,

Gambling, Food, Pornography, Perfectionism, TV, Anger, Control issues, Co-dependency,

Smoking, Video games, Internet surfing, vulgar mouth, Self sufficiency, breaking the Sabbath day,

 road rage and an endless list of others. If you think you do not have any problems of any kind ,

might we suggest you work on your PRIDE!!!!!! This program is for everybody.

Family and friends who come may be: Co-dependents, Priesthood leaders, others who come to support addicts.



There is a non-judgmental and unconditional love shown to everyone who attends. They are in a safe place to share honestly, thus bringing a spirit of healing that is so desperately needed. Anonymity is sacred; what is shared at these meetings is never spoken outside its doors. The Spirit is extremely strong at each of these meetings.



  • This is a great place to utilize your ward missionaries–get them trained in the program so they can help many of Father’s children who are struggling.
  • It’s a great place to prepare a missionary couple for full time missionary service( this calling is a part-time service missionary calling) live at home and only serve 3 to 10 hours per week.
  • Recovered addicts who have gone through the program make some of the best missionaries, they know the steps and have “been there”. They do need to be temple worthy to serve. Serving also cements their continued recovery. Missionaries are always needed, so volunteer to your bishop.
  • It is ok to ask for this calling. Usually you can serve here and still keep your present calling.


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. 


Where can I read about this program? Is it really a legitimate auxiliary of the Church?

Pres Faust passed away before he was to give his conference talk, but it was included in the November 07 Ensign at the back of the conference talks. The talk is called “The Power to Change”.


In the manual, Preach My Gospel, on page 189, there are instructions for missionaries on how to deal with the addictions of converts.


You can find additional reading in the July 2008 Ensign “Hope, Healing, and Dealing with Addiction;” Church News, Sept 1, 2007, “ Hope for Recovery”, as well as the 7-part series that ran in the Church News; and at the following websites: (archives under ”individuals with addictions find hope and healing”);


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 are a recovery 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.
What is the difference in an ARP meeting and a PASG meeting?The only difference between the two meetings is that everyone in a PASG group has a sexual addiction, or is a spouse, friend, or family member of such an addict. The format of the meeting is the same. Also 99% of the PASG groups are separated–brothers and sisters meet at the same time but in different rooms. I only know of two areas in the whole program where the PASG groups meet together and are not separated. For the most part, men meet separate from the sisters, and the spouses and female addicts meet in another room. In some places there are sister-only groups just for female addicts. In areas where the program is thriving there are groups for sister-only problems, not just for addictions, but for depression, grief, divorce and for anything life throws at you, that you need the Savior for. There is even an ARP group that is just for food addictions. In our area we are trying to get a same gender attraction group started but we are still in the planning and getting approval stage.
Where can I find a meeting and the guide book?Click on 

What is the exact script used? (this script is very close but NOT “exact”)
  1. Welcome: Welcome to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addiction recovery meeting. I am Elder/Sister _____. My companion is _____, and we are serving as missionary group leaders.

  • Do we have anyone here for first time?

  • Please turn off your cell phones, or at least put them on vibrate.

  • We have the following announcements

  • would someone volunteer to offer an opening prayer?

  1. Mission Statement: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addiction recovery meetings assist those who desire to recover from addiction. We also welcome family and friends whose lives may be affected by the addiction of another. We are a group of brothers and sisters who share our experience, faith, and hope as we study and apply the principles of the gospel as they correlate with the 12 steps of recovery. Our meetings provide a safe place for honest sharing because we adhere to the principles of confidentiality and anonymity, and we use appropriate language and behavior to invite the Spirit to be with us. As we practice these 12 steps in our lives, we receive power through the Atonement of Jesus Christ to overcome addiction and receive the full blessings of the gospel. Family and friends who practice these same 12 steps will also find hope and healing for themselves.”

  2. Introduce the 12 Steps: We will now go around the room and read each of the 12 steps found on page Roman numeral iv (4). We invite each person who is willing to read 1 step. It is perfectly acceptable to pass if you prefer to listen only.

  3. Introduce Step Study: Each week we focus on a different step. This week we will read step ___ starting on page ___ from A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing. We will go around the room, and each person who is willing may read 1 or 2 paragraphs. You may pass if you prefer to listen. We have an extra copy of the Guide for you to use in this meeting in case you do not have one. During the reading listen for thoughts, feelings, and experiences you have in common with those who have taken these steps. Who would like to begin the reading?

  4. Introduce Action Steps: These 12 steps are a program of action. As we read the section called “Action Steps,” we learn about recovery and gospel actions we can take to come unto Christ and receive power to live in recovery from addiction.

Before the meeting is turned over to the facilitator, please remember, the opinions that will be expressed here are those of the individual who expressed them, and may not necessarily represent the program, Family Services, The Church, or the person next to you. Even comments about the counsel received from Bishops or other church leaders may not be relevant to you. We are all at different stages of recovery. With that in mind we will turn the meeting over to our facilitator.

  1. Introduce Group Sharing:

    • For those of you who have joined us since the meeting began, we welcome you. We will now begin the sharing portion of the meeting. Share about your personal recovery experience as it relates to the tools of recovery, this week’s step, or the step you are currently working on. Please focus your sharing on the solution rather than the problem. Refrain from mentioning graphic details about the practice of your addiction. Remember, cross talk, which is interrupting or commenting directly about another participant’s remarks, is not appropriate. Also, it is perfectly acceptable to pass if you prefer to listen only. Remember to speak in the( I) form and not the (you) form

    • Confidentiality and anonymity foster honesty and make this a safe place to share. Therefore, “whom you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here, in keeping with the principle of anonymity, we invite you to introduce yourself by your first name only. We will now go around the room now and introduce ourselves.

    • We will conclude the sharing portion five minutes before the end of the meeting at _____ (state the time) for final thoughts from Elder/Sister _____. The time is now yours to share your experience, faith, and hope. We invite you to share for 3 to 5 minutes. I will give a signal if you have used your full time for sharing. I will start the sharing and when I am finished we will proceed to my ________( left or right)

  2. Close Group Sharing: Thank you for your participation. We will now turn the time back to Elder/Sister _____.

  3. Missionary Sharing – 5 Minutes: I’m Elder/Sister _____. (Focus your closing thoughts on the principles and tools of recovery and your testimony of the Savior. Take no more than 5 minutes to share, and close the meeting on time.)

  4. Closing: We recommend using the “Study and Understanding” and “Action Steps” sections between meetings to build on what you’ve heard and experienced in this meeting. Finally, we thank each of you for your participation. Your presence here demonstrates your humility and faith and inspires hope in everyone attending today. Would someone please volunteer to offer the closing prayer?



I have been associated with the program for 4+ years now. The program WORKS! Because it is based on the Atonement. I feel the Spirit so strong in each and every one of these meetings, it is a witness to me that the Lord especially loves the broken hearted. He truly leaves the 90 and 9 and goes after the one, or the group of ones who comprise our groups. Those who come know that this is the right place for help. It is a place where the Atonement is taught in such a way that those who are in spiritual darkness can behold the light again, and be able to feel the love of our Savior again, and the support and love of those who have also caught in the same snares of this mortal world. The Atonement is taught step by step in a way that can unlock the cleansing and healing power of the Atonement. Going to church alone will NOT cure addictions; I am living proof of that. All my knowledge and decades in the church did not prepare me for the clarity and insight I have since learned by attending these meetings. I had all the knowledge but did not know how to put that knowledge together to make the Atonement real and personal in my own life to the degree I now have. If you ask anyone in the program, they would tell you that this program should be part of every Sunday school curriculum in the church. Everyone needs to know the knowledge found in this program. The meetings provide a safe environment, here a person can share and be completely honest without being judged or ridiculed or shamed. Everyone there, sometimes even including the missionaries, share their same weaknesses. It is nice to know that you are not alone in your weakness, that you are not uniquely broken, that others are going through the same trials as you are, and in the same boat, who are struggling as you are. As it says in the mission statement, it is through sharing that we solve our common problems; there is no better place to learn what works and what does not work than by hearing others–who are just like you–as they share their lives with you. As you attend a meeting and are without hope, I promise you will find it. Our meetings are full of Hope and Love.
This is a place where one can be truly honest with OTHERS about their problems, and with THEMSELVES. Addicts are good about minimizing and making excuses for their weaknesses. Many addicts are in DENIAL (Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying). Our meetings are a safe place where these weaknesses can be brought up and dealt with. It is in these meetings where we practice true Christianity: We mourn with those who mourn and we rejoice with those who are having success. Each of us in the group learns from the successes and, yes, the failures of others. Many use the support group as an accountability tool, knowing that they would have to confess to the group if or when they slipped. WE ARE A FAMILY in these support groups. We pray for each other, and we miss those who are absent.
 Another reason for success is that some addictions, like the ones I work with, deal with pornography and there is a lot of secrecy and shame that goes with this addiction. It grows like a fungus in the dark and thrives, but when it is brought into the light it withers and dies. We bring this addiction into the LIGHT in a safe place, because everyone else in the room has the same problem. Addicts learn that the lies that Satan has been using on them are the same lies he uses on everyone else, and once in the light, darkness flees. If the Lord has saved one person from this affliction, AND HE HAS, He will save all, what He has done for one, He does for all.
The support group is not a replacement for church or going to the bishop. In fact no one can go thru the steps without working with their bishop and attending to the basics of reading, praying, writing, and attending church. The program is a supplement of the above. I am grateful for this program and for what it has done for me. I am so grateful to a church that is so caring for those of us who are lost that they provided this program to help Father’s children.
Elder F


  All A.R.P. programs are not all equal, the program is a work in progress, and does have flaws, but it is the only one our church has sponsored and placed its stamp of approval on!.  Please share experiences you have had with the program, thanks for letting me share mine.




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One Response to “What is the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program ?”

  1. Rex Goode said:


    Thanks so much for this informative post!


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