April 19, 2013

A Powerful Resource for Addiction Recovery AND Prevention

My oldest son is eleven.  I have taught him many things throughout these years of homeschooling.  But as he heads into his teenage years—so soon now!—I have thought a lot about the addictions that are so prevalent today and I have wondered how I was going to steer him around these traps.  This seems to me to be one of the most crucial things I will ever teach him. 

I have come across a powerful resource for understanding, recovering from, and preventing addictive behavior that I need to share with you because it might be just what you need.  There is an LDS therapist named Maurice Harker who has been doing amazing work helping young men with pornography addiction through a program he calls Sons of Helaman.  I first saw their website last summer and I was incredibly impressed with what he was doing in group therapy with young men in Utah who were struggling with addiction, but I didn’t think there was anything in it for me, since we don’t live in Utah and my boys are still so young. 

Then a few months ago I watched a YouTube video where Maurice, using the Book of Mormon, explains what he calls the “chemical scale,” or the way addiction affects your brain chemistry.  I have been battling sugar addiction all my adult life, and so everything he said made so much sense and was so enlightening to me.  I think this is a must-watch video because it will help you understand addictions better and I think pretty much all of us either have addictions or know someone who does. It's about 40 minutes, but it's totally worth your time. (If the video is not showing up just below this, please click here to watch it on YouTube.)

I ordered a copy of his book, Like Dragons Did They Fight, so I could learn more.  Before I could even read it though, I found out that Maurice Harker had been working with Aneladee Milne (whom some of you know from the LDS homeschooling world) to create an addiction prevention program for parents entitled “Eternal Warriors.”  This was just what I had been looking for! 

Even though I was in Oklahoma at the time, I found I could take the course by teleconference.  For eight weeks, I spent two hours on the phone every Thursday afternoon with a group of about a dozen women from all over the country and our mentor, Celestia Shumway (who happens to homeschool!)   It seemed kind of strange at first, but by the end of the course powerful things had happened for all of us. 

The course was run pretty much like one of the addiction recovery groups.  In order to teach our children how to have the self-discipline to avoid and/or fight addictions, we moms need to set the example.  So we were all required to set goals, keep a journal, and report on our progress each week (without sharing anything overly personal.)   The overall goal was to reach 28 consecutive days of success in all our goals, which is long enough to form a habit.  There were incentives and rewards along the way, and the group accountability was really powerful.  We were also taught each week about the tactics the adversary is using to mess with our heads and how we can fight back. 

This was life-changing for me.  I learned many things that were pivotal for me.  For example, all what non-religious psychologists call “negative self-talk” actually comes from the adversary.  So when I get these thoughts like “My life is too hard,” “homeschooling is too hard,” “I am overwhelmed,” “I’m not good enough” and even “I am the worst mom,” I now know where they are coming from and I have the tools I need to overcome them. 

I have already started teaching these principles to my kids.  I am working with them on learning to set goals and develop righteous habits like daily prayer and personal scripture study (Maurice calls these things “border patrol.”)   I really feel that this is one of the most vital things I will ever teach them. 

The course I took was about $150, including all the materials (the book, a DVD, and the Girl Power journal).  For me, it was well worth the sacrifice.  I highly recommend that everyone watch the video and then if someone close to you is struggling from addictions get your hands on a copy of the book.  After that, if you feel the need to take it further and shell out for the class, I really do not think that you will be disappointed. 

The demand for this information is growing rapidly, and for good reason.  This is exactly what so many people these days need, and we are not meant to face these battles alone.  Keep an eye on the Sons of Helaman website to see what’s developing because they are working on ways to get this information available to more and more people.  You could follow Maurice's blog or find him on Facebook.  I know they are starting a class called “GirlsWho Get It” to teach these principles to teenage girls in order for them to know what the young men are going through and what they can do about it.  This could be vital for them to understand as they court and get married in this internet culture.  They are also starting classes to train people to mentor and teach these kinds of classes to others.  These are limited to Utah locals right now, or I would so be there. 

All of us have battles to fight with the adversary.  We do as moms, and our children do too.   For me, watching the YouTube video above started a chain of events that is answering my prayer to be able to help my children win their battles, and I am much less worried now because I know what I can do!

Sarah (Birrd) and her husband (Badger) have six really cool children.  They live in the western United States.  She loves children’s picture books, daffodils, Mozart, and making tasty casseroles.  Take a look at The Birrd’s Nest to see what she’s up to!

5 comments - Add a comment below -:

Holly said...

That looks really neat, thanks for sharing.

I am surprised though, that they focus so much on boys. I only know a little about the topic, but I have NO doubt there are tons of girls who struggle with this as well. I see know reason to worry about this issue with my sons and just blow it off with my daughters or merely tell them how to help the boys.

Birrd said...

You're right, there are lots of girls with these problems too. Maurice's original success was in developing a program that resonated well with the teenage boys that were being referred to him in droves for therapy and he is rapidly branching out from there. The new program for girls doesn't just tell them how to help the boys, it also teaches them the same principles of addiction recovery and prevention to use themselves. I know the organization is creating programs according to demand, and I know they welcome comments, so maybe you could let them know what you think.

I am definitely teaching these principles to all my children and not just my boys. This stuff is for everyone.

Jessie said...

The "Sons of Helaman" program is an incredible program! My husband is one of the therapists heading up the program in Cache Valley! And you're right these principles can be applied to anyone for any type of addiction! Thank You for spreading the word!!

Ritsumei said...

This looks amazing. My boys are still little, but there is an astounding amount of filth out there. A resource to help keep them safe is a welcome sight!


Birrd said...

Holly, I just read on Maurice Harker's blog that he does have a program now for young women with sexual addictions. It's called Sisters of Promise and it gives an 800 number you can call for more info.