Support in Stepping Out of the Shadows

*Ryan's Story

Two men talking.

I became addicted to alcohol after just one drink.

I was 21 and had just returned home from serving an honorable mission. Adjusting to “normal life” was difficult but worse was my growing desire to rebel. So I gave in. The effect was instantaneous. It was thrilling; I was living in the fast lane and loving every minute. There were, of course, setbacks, failed relationships, and an ever-increasing number of DUIs. But I hardly noticed.

Things got so bad that I voluntarily entered an inpatient rehabilitation program. This seemed to help, but almost immediately on release, I turned back to my old vices. And, although I tried, I couldn’t seem to stay sober for any extended period of time. I felt spiritually bankrupt.

I remember speaking with my addiction recovery sponsor. I told him how I felt. He asked how long it had been since I set foot inside a chapel. I told him that it had been a very long time. He suggested that maybe it was time for me to make a visit and take some time to pray.

I drove to a chapel near my house. Finding it open, I went inside to look for a quiet place. I decided on the Primary room. I sat down in a tiny chair, feeling more lost and hopeless than I’d ever been. I felt like I’d never be free of the alcohol, drugs, or host of other unworthy behaviors I was engaged in.

But then I felt a strong spirit come over me—a sensation of warmth, comfort, and love. For the first time in a long time, I felt at home. I looked up and smiled to see a painting of the Savior in front of me. The Spirit flooded my body, and I began to cry. I knew, at that moment, that my Heavenly Father loved me and that He would help me.

That experience changed me. I began attending addiction recovery program meetings. At first, sharing was difficult. I was nervous and embarrassed, but as I continued to go back, I began to open up.

One of my favorite lines in the Addiction Recovery Program talks about stepping out of the shadows of shame (“Step 4: Truth,” Addiction Recovery Program: A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing [booklet, 2005], 22). That was something that I’d never had the courage to do, but I began to find it as I heard others share openly and honestly about their own experiences. Their stories of hope and courage gave me the strength to keep pushing forward.

Even so, there were times when I struggled. On one particular day, I was overcome by negative thoughts on my lunch break. I’d been sober four months and didn’t feel like I could do it anymore. I felt that turning back to my addiction was the only way I could get a little relief from all the pressure I was under.

But amid all the negative thoughts, a scripture entered my mind:

“But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage” (Mosiah 7:33).

The verse reminded me of a text my mother sent me a few days earlier telling me that she thought a priesthood blessing might give me the help I needed. I knew she was right.

At a table not too far away, I saw a young man eating lunch. I felt that I should approach him and ask for a blessing, so I gathered my courage and walked up to him. “Excuse me, are you LDS?” I asked. He responded, “Yes.” Then I inquired, “Do you hold the Melchizedek Priesthood?” He replied, “Yes, I do.” Relieved, I said, “I’m really struggling today and need a blessing. Would you be willing to help me?” He said that he would be happy to, and together we went to ask for assistance from one of his friends who worked close by.

As these two men put their hands on my head, I felt an immediate warmth and a very real strength enter my body. In the blessing I was told how pleased our Heavenly Father was that I chose to turn to Him in my hour of need. I was assured that my family wanted to help and support me and that I could overcome my struggles with the help of the Savior.

That experience taught me that I can’t overcome my addictions by myself. I need the Lord’s help. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for always being there for me. I am thankful for my Savior and His Atonement—a very real and personal gift He gave to help me. He has never abandoned, and will never abandon, me.

*Name has been changed.