The LDS church has received permission from alcoholics anonymous to create a variation of the AA program targeted to LDS church members, incorporating church doctrine into the 12 steps of recovery. This program has something for all members of the church. It could even be said that the 12 step program is a more specific step by step guide to faith and repentance. I have met people who felt like hopeless addicts and had resigned themselves to death by overdose or some other addiction-related tragedy. These same people today are full of life and hope such that you never would suppose that they had been through their addictions. The only proof is the extent of their hope in Christ that comes from depending on him through their recovery journey.

What does addiction have to do with the State? Isn’t the state supposed to help protect us from addiction by forbidding us to start and supporting anti-drug campaigns that teach us why we shouldn’t do drugs? How can we be addicted to the State? To answer that we have to first understand how addiction works and how a person recovers from it.

In the case of alcoholism the addiction is a trigger and alcohol is the drug of choice to escape from life’s problems. The alcoholic turns to his drink to “save” himself from the stress that he feels. Some days an addict can say, “If this is what sobriety feels like, I’m not sure I want it”. The alcohol, heroin, marijuana, prescription pain killers, gambling, eating disorders, and in some cases the prescription anti-depressants are all used as various addicts’ “drug of choice”. Though there are differing degrees of “legality” assigned to each addict’s drug of choice, the addictions are addictions nonetheless if used to avoid things that he finds troubling. The addict becomes “dependent” on his drug of choice to help him deal with life. In the end, it is not the drug that is the problem. It is the false salvation that the addict seeks by using the drug. The drug has become the addict’s crutch; take away the crutch without making any attempt at healing and the addict merely falls over.

How does an addict recover from addiction? How is healing possible? The short answer is: Through faith in Christ. The long answer is the 12 steps.
1. Honesty – You must be willing to admit that you have a problem and that your life has become unmanageable.
2. Hope – You must have hope that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can heal you.
3. Trust in God – You must be willing to trust that God will save you if you do what he asks of you.
4. Truth – You must become willing to be honest with yourself. This involves doing a written moral inventory of your life.
5. Confession – Admit to God, Proper priesthood authority, and to another living person the exact nature of your wrongs.
6. Change of Heart – You must become ready to have God remove all your shortcomings.
7. Humility – Ask God to remove your shortcomings.
8. Seeking Forgiveness – Make a list of all persons you have harmed through your addiction.
9. Restitution and Reconciliation – Attempt to make direct restitution to all those you have harmed in your addiction.
10. Daily accountability – Continue making personal inventories as you did on step 4, and when you are wrong admit it.
11. Personal Revelation – Seek to know the Lord’s will and to have the power to carry it out.
12. Service – Share this message with others and practice these principles.

More information can be found in the addiction recovery section of the LDS provident living website:
http://www.providentliving.org/content/display/0,11666,6629-1-3414-1,00.html
The addiction recovery manual is also available as a PDF here:
http://www.providentliving.org/familyservices/AddicitonRecoveryManual_36764000.pdf

After understanding the signs of addiction and the steps required to recover from addiction, we must now consider whether we even have an addiction when it comes to the State. What do we expect from the State?

Some look to the State to save their fellow man from poverty. Few understand that by so doing they make their fellow man an addict to the state. My father taught me that the difference between someone who is broke and someone who is poor is that the man who is broke doesn’t have any money, and the man who is poor doesn’t believe he has any value. State welfare has the effect of taking people who are broke and making them poor because it rewards those most who do the least. Life can be hard and working difficult. The welfare recipient becomes an addict to the welfare money because it is easier to live on the welfare than it is to work hard for only marginally more. Once a man’s feeling of self worth is gone there is no purpose in working at all. The State is now providing false salvation.

On the other side of the welfare question is the giver. For many it is easier to support taxing all to give to the broke (and eventually poor) than it is to deal with the problem directly by feeding the hungry and clothing the naked ourselves. The problem seems too big to handle. We turn to the state because it “has enough money.” The addiction on this end comes from the fact that the giver doesn’t know how to deal with the problem and wishes to be “saved” from it by passing it on to the State. It is easier to say to oneself, “Those people need help, but I don’t want to put myself at risk in helping them. I don’t want their problems to spread into my life or enable them in their addictions.” The addiction may actually be characterized as a method of lying to ourselves about the plight of our fellow man, as it is easier to say, “The State is saving him; I need not help him now.”

Another way in which the State offers false “salvation” is through the idea of “preventing crime.” How can anyone be hurt if we make actions illegal when they might lead to crime? This is often the justification behind gun control. Guns are often used in criminal activity; if we take away the gun the criminal activity will also disappear. This is wishful thinking at best, as if removing the means would change the motive.

More commonly the State tries to save us by preventing harm, not just preventing crime. The State does this by demanding that we do things for the “greater good.” It is common for people to be harmed in car accidents, so we must compel everyone to wear seat belts. Contractors may build unsafe structures so we must compel them to meet certain licensing requirements (not that this stops licensed contractors from doing shoddy work). An electrician could make a mistake that burns down your house. Therefore, they must go through a 4-6 year training process before they can be allowed to work on your house. Once again, this assumes that the training process covers everything and that the license actually means that they won’t inadvertently miss something and burn down your house. In cases of both preventing crime and generic harm, the addiction is to the false sense of security that the State is providing. Instead of being allowed to assess risks and decide which ones we are willing to take, we find it easier to let the State do the “hard work” of figuring out who is qualified or what standards of safety are sufficient. This, most of all, is an addiction to trusting in the State for safety and protection.

All of these cases presented are addictions to the State. It is addicting because the State is visible as a major force in our lives so it is much easier to trust that it can make the changes we otherwise feel powerless to make. We then wait on the state to bring about the ends we feel are so desperately needed. This is much easier than waiting on God because waiting on God requires significant faith whereas waiting on the State requires only faith in the counterfeit salvation it has been providing all of our lives.

How do we apply the 12 steps of addiction recovery to an addiction to the State? Let’s look at the steps again. As you read these steps think about what these things have to do with building Zion.

1. Honesty – Admit that you have, in fact, put your trust in the state to save you from any and all of the difficulties that are natural to living in a telestial world and that your trust in the state has not always been well placed. Also come to believe that it is not legitimate to ask the State to use any force against your neighbor to change his behavior that you could not legitimately use yourself.
2. Hope – Come to believe that all wrongs and injustices in the world are known to God and that the Atonement can provide comfort and healing when the difficulties of life present themselves.
3. Trust in God – Decide to turn your life over to God. Trust that no matter what happens he will provide comfort if only you would turn to him.
4. Truth – Make a searching and fearless moral inventory. In the case of addiction to the state, pay special attention to your personal feelings that caused you to expect the state to do or not do something. This step is not about your addiction or the actions of anyone else around you. This step is about you understanding yourself and how you deal with the world. This is at the heart of addiction.
5. Confession – Willingly admit any wrongs you have committed that you discovered in step 4. Admit them to God, proper priesthood authority (if needed), and to another living person.
6. Change of Heart – Become ready for God to remove your weaknesses. These include your initial addiction and the other harmful behaviors you have developed in your life.
7. Humility – Ask God to remove your shortcomings.
8. Seeking Forgiveness – Make a list of all people you have harmed through your addiction. This can be difficult in the case of general harm done by the State so the list should be limited to specific people you know have been harmed through any bad behavior not limited to any particular addiction.
9. Restitution and Reconciliation – Personally make amends with any person you have harmed.
10. Daily Accountability – Continue making personal inventories to better understand how you are continuing to deal with the world around you. When you discover you are wrong, promptly admit it.
11. Personal Revelation – Seek through prayer to understand God’s will and the principles of liberty. Seek also for the strength to carry out God’s will and defend liberty.
12. Service – Share the message of liberty with all those you meet. As you come to understand the principles of liberty as found in the law and government of the kingdom of God, help others to understand them.

As we can see, the 12 steps can apply to anything. In the case of addiction to the State these 12 steps really are the steps to choosing to be on God’s side in the difficult times ahead. If a man’s trust is in the State and not in God then he is at serious risk of picking and supporting the kingdoms of the world as opposed to picking the kingdom of God. That is a dangerous choice to make as things continue to get worse.

Christ is the Prince of Peace and the liberator of the captives. The State does nothing except by threat of violence (economic or physical) and imprisonment. You might say that the State is the opposite of the kingdom of God. By not dealing with addiction to the State we are at best allowing Lucifer’s kingdom to continue and at worst supporting his kingdom in its rebellion against God.

Disclaimer:
This article has been written combining my understanding of the principles of liberty with the principles of addiction recovery. Though this is based on understanding obtained from the LDS Church’s addiction recovery materials which are derived from the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps these sentiments do not reflect any official opinions of those groups or their leaders.

Image: Chris ConnellyCC BY 2.0

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