Jessica Butterfield and Kelly Thompson are two delightful, committed, intelligent Latter-day Saints who grew up in Utah. Both Jessica and Kelly are also recovering addicts with a compelling story that needs to be heard—a story of struggle, redemption, and a fervent desire to help the addicted and their families, friends, and church leaders. Kelly has authored the book Between Monsters and Mercy and has been a facilitator for the Church’s Addiction Recovery Program. Together they have begun a new podcast, “The Hope Addiction”, as an extension of a podcast Jessica previously initiated.

Highlights

04:15: Kelly’s story: Turned to drugs as a teen to deal with physical ailments. Her siblings were on the BYU/temple marriage path. Time on the streets doing whatever it took (e.g., prostitution) to support her addiction. Testimony struggles in a less-active family. God became a punching bag and later her best friend during her time in a deep abyss. D&C 121 took on added meaning. Has been sober 4 ½ years, following 28 years of addiction. Sister missionaries showed up miraculously at a critical time. Began to realize that she was not inherently all the bad labels she had taken upon herself. Wants other to know the Savior can change lives and hearts. Gratitude for other recovering addicts whose stories inspired her to change.

10:48: Jessica’s story: Raised in a small Utah town in an LDS home. Family became inactive when she was 12. Introduced to drugs/alcohol at 12. Had anxiety and depression she was not aware of. Addicted to heroin at 16. Addicted for four years. Hated the person she had become. At 20, went through heroin withdrawal. Did not wish to believe in the “Mormon God.” Attended an LDS 12-step meeting and experienced grace, hope and a priesthood blessing that changed her life. What could it hurt to try a different approach to life? Faith grew. Sealed in temple 3 years shy of being clean. Experienced a transformation through the Atonement. Has not relapsed since that change ten years ago.

15:45: What leads people to try drugs? Alcohol originally offered relief and seemed like a solution to anxiety/depression/trauma/family dysfunction/family history of addiction. Substance abuse worked fast and came with fun partying. Seeking out associates with similar adulterated values. Wired for anxiety? Drugs provided an escape “needed” to cope. God’s love supplanted the need for harmful substances.

21:40: Rationalizing the foray into drugs? Escape

23:20: Common misconceptions about the disease. Where does choice end and addiction/disease begin? Lying and manipulation comes with the territory. Abuse affects the brain and takes over the survival instincts. If you are on fire you jump into a water to save yourself. Addicted people begin viewing drugs as a survival tool. Addicts are not bad people who need to be good; they are sick people who want to be better. As an addict your behavior affects others adversely. Mental health issues require compassion.

27:30: What can a church leader or family member do when someone is in the middle of their addiction? No easy answers. Allow someone to suffer the consequences of their choices–landing in jail isn’t always a bad thing. Addicts need to be humbled. Pray for addicted loved ones to hit bottom and confess to being an addict so they can turn to the real source of strength. Heavenly Father knows our hearts and can provide healing circumstances. Be willing to plant seeds that can help an addict even if you don’t see immediate results. When Jessica was ready to change, she remembered the good people in the church who had been very kind (e.g., non-judgmental home teachers, sister missionaries, etc.)

33:40: What about relapse? It is a one-day-at-a-time deal. Need Christ. Don’t become overly confident.

36:45: Pushing the addictive experiences into the background vs being open about prior struggles. What about involving recovering addicts to help wards? The dangers of hiding it include feeling greater shame, not being authentic, and not being able to help others experience the Atonement. Need to know they can still be loved even when others know about their past. Christ helped people overcome shame. Addicts and recovering addicts need each other. Addicts need to hear success stories.

47:00 What does an addict want from a leader? Don’t automatically tell people to leave their addiction story in the past. That adds to the shame of it. Congratulate them and find a way to use their story with struggling individuals. Temptation is harder for the kids now and these women can relate, when perhaps some older people in the ward cannot. The Atonement is real and removes shame so why not talk about it in a positive way? Perhaps listeners will realize they are not hopelessly lost and that they can deal with shame while being healed.

52:13: “Recovering Out Loud”—joint podcast launching June 4. “Create Recovery with the Savior” as resource for church leaders—a 12-step program with LDS in mind. Using Zoom meetings for outreach.

58:16: How has their journey helped them become better disciples of Christ? Progressing from lost and broken to happiness and peace with a good marriage and wonderful children. Increasing loyalty to Christ—through Him there is freedom from darkness.

Links

Addiction Recovery Program (ARP)
The Hope Addiction Podcast
Between Monsters and Mercy: An Inspiring True Story of A Soul Lost & Found, by Kelly Thompson
Create Recovery with the Savior (12-step addiction recovery workshop from Cedar Fort)
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