12 Steps to Change

Step 8: Forgiveness - Larry’s Story on Drug Addiction Recovery

Step 8

Larry's story about addiction recovery using the 12 step recovery program.5:13
Description

Larry’s drug addiction started when he was a teenager, following a troubled childhood. He decided to run away from his broken home and went 13 years without speaking to his father. His anger at his parents fueled his addictive behavior. Seeking forgiveness for himself and for others was key to his recovery.

Step 8 - Seeking Forgiveness: Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.

Those who face addictions often struggle with the consequences of their choices for many years, sometimes for their whole lives. The outcomes that are portrayed in this video series do not reflect the possible range of outcomes that may be experienced by others. If you or someone you love is experiencing these challenges, or would like more information about addiction recovery, please visit addictionrecovery.lds.org.

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Transcript

    [CHILD CRYING] My dad was in the military, and when I was 10 years old, he got sent to Vietnam during the Vietnam War. While he was away, my mother had a mental breakdown. It was a Friday night. She left to go to work, and she didn't come back, and we were left alone for about three weeks. And we ate everything we could in the house, everything there was to eat. Things you probably wouldn't have thought about eating.

    We were always terrified of getting her in trouble. She told us not to tell anyone. When my mom came back, she had told us that she really didn't remember what happened.

    She had gone to my dad, actually, and begged him to see a psychiatrist. He had told her that he thought it would be embarrassing for the family. My parents got divorced, and then we went to live with my dad. It was almost like moving in with a stranger, emotionally.

    It was really tough. In these teenage years, after I started doing drugs, is when my dad and I started fighting. We fought all the time. And it was mostly about--God bless him, he didn't want me to hang out with my friends because he knew they were a bad influence. But for me, I was like, "These are the only people that have loved and accepted me. So why are you keeping me from these people?"

    [BOTH YELLING]

    I didn't talk to my dad for 13 years. I didn't speak to him, write a letter, a telephone call, anything. My life really started to spiral. I transitioned from my days in San Francisco of cocaine to crystal meth. They say sometimes that when you hold a grudge against someone, you're really only poisoning yourself. Unwillingness to forgive others, I really feel, was the key to my addictive behavior, and this is where step 8 comes in.

    I sat down and started writing this list of every person that I thought had done me wrong, and it was a long list. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew the big one was going to be for me and my dad, and I didn't know how I was going to do that.

    About a week later, about a week or so after I did this, out of the blue, my dad called me after 13 years. By that point, my mind and my heart had been open enough where I could really, openly forgive him and truly sorry for how I had treated him. We had a very tender reunion.

    When he started telling me his life story, I felt that he was this little boy who was thrown out into the world. I had so much love and compassion for him. And then as I begin to share my challenges with him and told him what my life had been like for the last 13 years, he began to cry. And he reached over and he held my hand on the table. We were in a restaurant. He said, "I'm so sorry you had to go through that." And I know that was his way of telling me that he had forgiven me.

    My heart just opened up with love and compassion for him, and forgiveness, in a way that I'd never comprehended or understood before. It felt like this poison was draining from my body, from my mind and heart, and it was so incredible. It felt liberating.