“My Journey from Alcoholism to Sobriety,” Ensign, Jan. 2012, 61–65
“Please, Father in Heaven, help me.”
These are the words I cried in desperation to the Lord. I was under the influence of alcohol at the time, and I simply didn’t know what else to do.
I had been raised in the Church by wonderful, loving parents. I went on a mission to England and Scotland, came home, and married my childhood sweetheart in the temple. I chose the broadcasting industry as my profession. I gained great popularity and became very prideful. Later, as a sports announcer, I traveled a lot and started drinking socially on occasion.
Decades later, at 68 years of age, I finally realized that drinking had made my life a total mess, a tragedy. Divorced for 20 years, lonely, inactive in the Church, miserable, and deeply in debt, I was ready to give up. It was in that desperation I pleaded with the Lord, “Please, please help me.”
The next day I was arrested for the second time for driving under the influence of alcohol, which brought with it a large fine, a yearlong suspension of my driver’s license, and 10 days in jail. I wanted to die.
While I was in jail, my sister invited me to live in her family’s trailer in the desert when I got out. What a great break! This surely was an answer to my prayer.
The first day I was there, I took my dog for a walk and found a spot where no one would disturb me. I fell to my knees in prayer. This spot became my sacred place where hour after hour, day after day, I pleaded with the Lord for help.
I learned through an ad in the newspaper about a meeting for the LDS Addiction Recovery Program, a 12-step program. The meeting was held at an LDS meetinghouse, and although I hadn’t been active in years, I thought I might as well try it. When I arrived at the meeting, I was greeted by a kind senior missionary couple.
The meeting started with prayer. I was not really at ease, but I felt a warm, comfortable feeling. As people at the meeting shared their life stories, I felt connected to them. Their honesty touched me, and I realized that others had the same problems I had and, like me, were trying to get rid of them. After the closing prayer, I quickly left.
But the next week I went back. And I kept going. People who attended the meeting were so honest in their sharing. I began to pick up on things that I could use to help myself. I knew that my life had become unmanageable and that by myself, I was helpless to stop drinking.
One day when I was very discouraged—depressed, really—I again asked the Lord for help. When I came in from praying in the desert, I started ironing my shirts. Suddenly, from nowhere, came the words, “Be not discouraged; many blessings will be yours.” This startled me. Where did those words come from? Then I realized that the Holy Ghost had spoken to me, an alcoholic, so unrighteous and undeserving of the Lord’s blessings. I was astounded.
By this time, I had learned much about the 12 steps of the Addiction Recovery Program. Step three stated that I was to turn my will and my life entirely over to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. That was the turning point in my recovery. After much prayer and fasting I was determined to do that, and I went forward.
I started going to church. At first it was uncomfortable—no one greeted me or said much—but I kept going. After a few weeks, the bishop greeted me, and we had our first meeting. He was loving and kind, forgiving and understanding. He told me that if I would attend church, not drink, pay my tithing, and do some other things, that I could take the sacrament. What a special blessing!
But how was I to pay tithing? My job barely covered my living expenses. I still had my fine to pay and my large debt. But I was determined. No matter what—no matter what—I was going to pay my tithing.
Then the blessings came. Five days after I paid tithing for the first time, my brother called and told me that our mother’s house had finally sold (she had passed away) and that I would receive a share of the proceeds. It was almost the exact amount of my debt. I felt the Lord was blessing me for being obedient.
I continued going to church and meeting with the bishop regularly. I did all the things he asked me to do. I also continued going to the Addiction Recovery Program meetings twice a week, where I was able to help others by sharing how the Lord had helped me. There were other blessings, too: I got a new job with higher pay, accepted callings in the ward, and received wonderful priesthood blessings from my stake president.
One day the bishop asked me if I would like a temple recommend. My tears flowed as he interviewed me. I loved the temple and went often. Additionally, I was called to be a missionary in the Addiction Recovery Program, where I had the opportunity to help others like me.
Then I was blessed to become a veil worker in the temple. How could that be? Just a short time ago I was living in darkness, and now I was serving in one of the most holy places on earth. Only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the miracle of forgiveness could this have been possible.
About a year later, I married again. What a special blessing to have a choice companion to share all of these blessings with!
Immediately after our marriage, we received a call to serve together in the Addiction Recovery Program. We currently serve as regional coordinators in the program, which we view as a great responsibility as well as an opportunity to help others who are struggling with addiction.
The reason I am able to tell my story about the reality of the Savior’s Atonement and the miracle of forgiveness is the hope and encouragement I received from the Addiction Recovery Program. In it, I learned to love my Savior and appreciate the suffering He went through for me in the Garden of Gethsemane. In addition, I learned of my Heavenly Father’s great love for me and for all of His children when I received the answer to my desperate prayer: “Please, Father in Heaven, help me.”