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Friday, July 22, 2016

The LDS ARP 90 Day Program...No Bueno



There's this thing in PASG/ARP called the “90 Day Program”. It is different than the 90 Day Program of AA and SA where you go to 90 meetings in 90 days.

     The 90 Day Program of ARP is a program of going through and completing the steps and becoming a sponsor in 90 days. If it sounds insane, it's because it is.

     In my time going to PASG meetings I've met plenty of guys who work the 90 Day Program. There is almost no one among them who has any amount of sobriety and more importantly, positive behavior change. I've seen a lot claim such things, some claim to have large amounts of sobriety, all of them I trust about as far as I can throw a piano.

     I know, I know. First off, we're all addicts at these meetings and all of us are liars. Definitely true. But I do know when someone is being humble and there is huge character change and growth. You can't help but see it. I'm not talking about the, “He doesn't yell at the kids anymore!” Type deal. I'm talking about the guy that changes behavior so much that he begins to learn empathy. Who doesn't just stop yelling at them, but learns to understand them, feel their pain with them, and comforts them.

     At first my feelings for the ARP 90 Day Program were just confusion. Why shove through it at break neck speed? If we are going to be doing this for the rest of our lives, why try and get through it as fast as possible. Why work a program that makes you use the internet morning and night? You want me to email you every morning and every night? When I first started in the program, just seeing a computer with internet access was triggering for me.

     Then I began to see a pattern. Guys would either a) work the 90 Day Program and change, but not for the better. They got cocky, prideful, and more dishonest. They turned into the robots at PASG meetings that talked about the “right"way to work the program and nothing was wrong with them ever after. They turned into the vast majority of guys in my elders quorum. Or b) they'd relapse right around their 90 Day mark.

     Friends of mine who had worked it and then failed or stopped would say, “ya but it really did good at forcing my to do my dailies.”

     Forcing?

     “Yeah, forcing me to get up and do the dailies, or else I'd have to tell my sponsor that I didn't and then get chewed out.”

     Chewed out? Forced? Didn't sound great to me. When I asked, “Shouldn't a good sponsor try and help you do the dailies anyway?” They'd get this confused look on their face. “Yeah I guess so?”

     Since those early days I've learned a lot more. Some if it small stuff, some of it quite huge to me.
     In the ARP 90 Day Program, there is one guy in charge of everything. The creator of the “program" is the decided on who can sponsor and who can't. In fact, everyone in the 90 Day Program has to send him their step 4 inventory. He judges you on your worthiness. This didn't sit right with me. I'm a big believer in the saying, “absolute power corrupts absolutely".

     I'll tell you a secret. I'm a Lust/porn/sex addict. This also means that I LOVE no LUST for positions of power. I'm prideful. I think I'm right and everyone else is wrong. I need to be in control.

     AA went through a lot of errors shortly after it began. There's a book called “12 Steps and 12 Traditions”. It explains why they created 12 traditions for AA to live by.

One of those traditions is in place so that the program is run by a voted on committee, not a singular person. Bill, one of the founders of AA sry this position in place to protect the program from people like him. He was also self-centered, prideful, and wanted power. He knew the dangers of having one man in control of a whole program, knowing the danger it possessed.


     In the ARP 90 Day Program, they tell you that toy have to have a resentment list of over so many hundred. If your don't, then your are lying and need to rework the list or drop out.

     Thus doesn't sit right. We're obviously going to have resentments, that's a given, but I'm the one that feels the resentments. If I can't think of anyone else I'm resentful toward after I've put forth an honest effort and it doesn't come I up to the amount someone thinks it should, that's ok. Because guess what? I'm going to be revisiting this step over and over throughout the rest of my life.

     I'm also not okay with the 90 Day Program relapse policy. If you “slip" or relapse, your “sponsor" technically had to dump you. That's a bunch of B.S. In my opinion.

     We learn as addicts, at least I did and continue to learn that God loves me and wants me to succeed. And no matter how many times I fall, if I'm willing, His mercy is sufficient for me. Rejecting someone as a sponsie after they've relapsed is a very damaging thing. A sponsor is supposed to be there for support, encouragement, and love. If I was perfect enough to not ever relapse I wouldn't be an addict in the first place.

     After completing your 90 days, you are set free to sponsor others.

Sponsor others after 90 days of sobriety….

Through the muscle of modern advansenents in the medical field, we now have the ability to do brain scans to see what areas in a person's brain are working and functioning.

     After 90 days of sobriety, your brain begins the process of rewiring.
     BEGINS THE PROCESS.

     This means that the brain STARTS the process of developing new pathways to think and react that don't lead back to porn and masturbation.

     This is also when we get to go through that wonderful thing called WITHDRAWAL.
Can I just say that withdrawal sucks. Like, for real. It sucks. I never expected to go through them. I mean, it wasn't like I was addicted to alcohol or drugs. Hahaha. For me withdrawal was the mental/emotional equivalent to having kidney stones, of which I've had a few. It sucks. It really really sucks.

     I can honestly say I was not in my right mind. It was like my body and brain were aware that I had not used these neural pathways (looking at porn, masturbation, sex, and lesser lust drive) to satisfy anxiety, stress, and my chemical dependence on them, and since I didn't know a knew way to relieve all that fear anxiety stress, all the warning bells, whistles, alarms were sounding and my insides where desperate to find some way to “survive", because I'd taught myself that without my drug I'd die. My brain didn't know what to do. I couldn't think straight, I couldn't make decisions, I couldn't hold normal conversations. All I knew was that to continue  acting out was going to make me live and die alone and miserable.

     Calling and spending time with my sponsor helped a ton. It was a salvation. Talking to other guys in the program was also a huge help.

     I can't tell you how messed up my thinking was, and how much my addict tried to weave ideas into my head to get me to act out. I literally could not trust my own thoughts.
   
And here's a program that demands addicts to be sponsors after 90 days of sobriety when the brain is in this state? That is insanity. That is complete insanity.

“It helps them stay sober,” I've been told. This is impossible. I was in no shape to be giving anyone advice. Especially for the fact that my addict was trying everything to get me to relapse right at the critical time when my broken yrt partially functioning brain was at its weakest.

     It makes sense why so many of these guys have been told by their 90 Day Program sponsors, “Don't talk to your wife about it.” “If you've looked at porn and haven't masturbated it's okay. The struggle is real.” “Your wife isn't safe to be around" “it's okay" “all is well in Zion”. “If you don't ejaculate you are okay.” Because these “sponsors” are talking crazy talk!

     I know this post is going to ruffle feathers. I've not spoken about this sober because the whole LDS community is obsessed with the 90 Day Program and I feared purple would come after me and kill me! Haha.

     But guess what? The 90 Day Program is not supported by the church. Contrary to popular belief ARPSUPPORT.org is NOT a church website. It's not affiliated.

     The ARP groups are being overrun by these 90 Day Advantists who claim the program works. That's mostly all I hear when I go to ARP meetings. That's probably why the church keeps doing the ARP program the way it is, because ask they no is period say it works great.

     I go to an SAL group largely comprised of LDS guys who have needed more than what ARP has been able to give. I've seen huge character and behavioral change in them and myself. If you want more info please feel free to reach out to me.

    I know lots of people don't agree with me. I know this isn't for everyone, but I can only survive, I can only grow, and I've only seen bits (I'm still new and don't have years of sobriety) of reality and happiness and true connection in working a program of SUPPORT, not rejection; of HONESTY, not deception; of SURRENDER, not control; of LOVE, not fear.

     That other stuff I've been doing for the last 20+ years and I can tell your it doesn't work.

     Sorry again, I'm long winded. I hope you have hope and light in your lives. God is Good. I hope you have connection with Him today.

21 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. The first time I heard about the 90 day program it reminded me of "cramming" for finals in college. It's like hearing a physical therapist tell you they'll "cram" six months of appointments into three weeks to "speed up your recovery". That's just not how it works. Unfortunately the deceiver knows what addicts want to hear and is a master at crafting a damaging imitation of the real thing. Keep spreading the word.

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  2. Thanks for your comment! I agree. I know that there are good reasons for keeping a steady pace, but shoving it all down my throat doesn't help me. I like to saver what I'm eating a little. Digest it. Understand it.
    I like what you said about the "deceiver" too. I've been thinking along those lines as well. Always taking something and twisting it enough so that it doesn't work.

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  3. So...you might want to correct the link to arpsupport.org, as the .com sends you to a spam/virus website.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  4. Couldn't agree more with your assessment. I've tried the program a few times and had a few different sponsors. Only one of them was pretty good and I ended up losing him because he was kicked out of the program for disagreeing with the owner on the number requirements for Step 4. I honestly like the material itself and I recently tried to get it without going through the program (because I already have a sponsor). Of course, the owner said no way. Apparently I had to re-join their little club and get another 90-days sober sponsor who doesn't know the first thing about sponsoring and will never actually be there for me when I need him.

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    1. That sucks. I'm sorry man. I agree that they do have some good material. Anything that helps right? But the fact that they wont share it? That's a bit ridiculous. Especially when coming from a group who claim to be predominantly Christian. I've heard lot's of stories like this about the owner of the program. I've not tried to contact the man myself, but solely based on what I've heard, I don't trust this guy's "sobriety". Anyone who tries to rule over a program of "recovery" with an iron fist has some pretty big character defects that don't seem to be changing...Another red flag when thinking about using this program.

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  5. Hmmm. Isn't a little disingenuous to condemn the 90 day program when you've never worked it before? It's a great way to work the steps and get connected with a sponsor. The 90 day program was a great experience for me that taught me a lot. Your thoughts sound like confirmation bias to me. But it's a free country, and we're all on the same team. Good luck in your recovery my friend.

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    1. Hahaha, you sound like the people that say that about drinking. "You can't condemn it until you try it." Actually, no, I don't have to try something to know it's wrong. Sorry man. I'm glad you've had a good experience. Let me know how that goes.

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  6. The 90 Day program was a good experience for me when I went through it. I have to agree that there are things I'd like to see different about the program, the main one being the primarily top level down management. Why Mark G won't allow others help the cause more, why all work has to be re-submitted back to him for "approval," the timeframe - these are a few of my questions.

    Ultimately, I feel like the biggest red-flag is an attempt by Mark (who I've talked to a few times on the phone - nice guy really) to control the outcome. No one can force another to live in recovery - it's a personal choice.

    For me, the 90 day program provided structure as I worked the steps all the way through the first time.

    As I've worked with sponsees since, I want that structure as well, but maybe fine tuned some.

    Questions I'd have for all of you reading this:

    1. What is an ideal timeline for working the 12 steps? To have no timeline at all, to me, is an invitation for an addict to continue putting it off and not really making real changes at all - making recovery work a 2nd or 3rd or lower priority.

    2. When is it ok to drop a sponsee who continues to not work the steps, not stay sober, and not keep commitments? For me, sponsoring can be triggering when I have a sponsee who isn't reaching out, isn't really doing anything he says he's doing, and makes me feel like he's got me as a sponsor mainly to appease his wife or therapist who has told him to get a sponsor or else...

    3. What has been the best way you've worked the 12 steps with a sponsor?

    Look forward to a reply.

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    1. I go to SA. I've gone through PASG multiple times. It didn't help much even though I felt like it did at the time. But there was no lasting behavioral change. I have a sponsor through SA with 2+ years of sobriety, which to us means no slips, no relapses. He had a sponsor through AA.
      I believe that demanding a timeline for working the steps forces one to do something against their will. I know God doesn't work that way. I know I don't work that way. I've had sponsors who forced, and I found myself doing the work, but not much more. I didn't WANT change, and so change didn't happen to me.
      Usually, when I hear people talk about how well they like the structure of the 90 day program, its from guys who have only been going through PASG, which has NO structure. SO yeah, they like what the 90 Day program has to offer. It makes sense.
      A guy that doesn't work isn't working. He isn't wanting to work. Do I drop him? I can really care less if he's got me just to appease his wife or therapist. It doesn't help him and it doesn't help me. He'll relapse sooner or later, and when his wife decides she's had enough, he'll either change or he wont. If that is triggering to me, (and I admit, I used to get stressed out by this) but that only means that I am having a problem with me. This is something that I need to work on, not him.

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    2. 1. What is an ideal time line for working the 12 steps? To have no time line at all, to me, is an invitation for an addict to continue putting it off and not really making real changes at all - making recovery work a 2nd or 3rd or lower priority.

      #1The ideal time line for me is one set by my higher power. Who knows best what I need and when I need it? I wasn’t ready to make some amends until I had worked through my more serious character weaknesses. Worked, processed, healed. The steps are in order for a reason. I needed faith in a higher power before I could surrender my will to him. I needed to surrender my will before I could address my resentments, fear, and harms. I needed to complete steps4 and 5 before I could focus on my character weaknesses. I needed to heal from character weaknesses before I could make healthy amends. If I rushed past steps 1-7 because of schedule, my amends and disclosures could have been harmful and unknowingly filled with pride, blame, shame, etc. I believe rushing the steps can hurt recovery as well as sitting on them for eternity.


      2. When is it ok to drop a sponsee who continues to not work the steps, not stay sober, and not keep commitments? For me, sponsoring can be triggering when I have a sponsee who isn't reaching out, isn't really doing anything he says he's doing, and makes me feel like he's got me as a sponsor mainly to appease his wife or therapist who has told him to get a sponsor or else...

      #2 I am not in the business of dropping sponsees. There are a few guys who call me their sponsor, but never call me or work the steps. I talk to them at group and they know I am here if they ever want to start back up. Enabling? Nah, In working through step 6&7 I learned I cant take responsibility for anyone’s success or failure. The 2 major character weaknesses I’m still working through is, “pat on the back syndrome” and “blaming myself for others actions”. Deadly in a sponsorship role because I’m always wanting recognition for how awesome I am or second guessing whether I was the cause a sponsees relapse.
      If you’re thinking about actually dropping a sponsee, pray about it and talk with your own sponsor. I’m guessing there are some unhealthy sponsee/sponsor relationship that need separating.

      3. What has been the best way you've worked the 12 steps with a sponsor?

      We work it out of the big book and the white book. I think there are some plain and precious truths that are lost in the ARP manual. I know...it has the LDS church stamp on the back. My sponsor and I had an expectation meeting in the beginning. We discussed boundaries and both our expectations were clearly identified so there were no surprises down the road (theoretically). A few things like I’m responsible to keep track of where I am in the steps. If I am sitting at home without an assignment, I need to call and get one. We met every week in the beginning, but we worked the steps as fast as I was grasping the concepts, doing my lists, and prayer work. I chose a sponsor who knows what he’s doing and listens to his higher power. I basically skipped steps 1 and 2. That was a disservice to me as I take new sponsees through steps 1&2. I did what he asked and pushed to get through the steps. If I wasn’t getting something he wouldn’t let me move on. It took me about 6 months to get through steps 1-4 and another 2 months to get through steps 5-9. These days we meet and mostly talk about my sponsees and how to best help them which in turn helps me continue to work the steps.

      This is what has worked for me so take what you need and leave the rest.
      Marshmudaddict
      (Utah)

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    3. I like the idea of this "expectations meeting" That's a really good idea.

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  7. Wow... so what program do YOU offer?

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    1. haha, SA. Sexaholics Anonymous. What else would I offer? It's the only thing that's worked.

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    2. Oh yeah, and serious EMDR therapy. And God.

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  8. I appreciated what was said. It seems to match the sentiment of those I know who have “graduated” and moved on from that program. I can only share my own experience. Never tried the ARP 90 day, however I currently attend PASG, SAL, and SA. I dove head first when I started recovery and attended lots of mtgs. They appeal to different types of people. I personally feel more connected with God in my SA group. It’s a healthy group. I have not been impressed with PASG meetings and SAL. More and more it feels like a bunch of guys sharing philosophies of men mingled with scripture. It lends itself to confusion, shame, and religion soap boxing. “Brethren, WE are this and WE are that, and if WE only did this then WE would...” I could go on, UGHHH. The ARP 90 day program smells the same to me. My understanding of sponsor/sponsee relationships is from the SA and AA perspective. ARP 90 days seems to have good intentions. At this time I choose not to do ARP 90 day because I am finding a process that works for me. If my process stops working, I’m open to try something else. I currently have a sponsor and a few sponsees through SA. (poor guys) I sponsor them the way I was taught by my sponsor, what I pick up along the way, and as directed by my higher power. It’s been an amazing journey. If all addicts were the same, a cookie cutter approach would be the answer. That’s why I think the 90 day program works for certain cookies.


    Marshmudaddict

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    1. Yeah I've found SA to be the best program as well. We were SAL for awhile, but as we learned more and more about SAL we decided to go with SA because it held more true to the 12 Traditions. And I've loved it. Seen more behavioral change here than anywhere else.

      Like I've said, maybe the 90 day program does work for some people, I've just never met any of them. If it works for some then good for them!

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  9. I completed the 90 day program to the best of my ability and was immediately thrust into the position of sponsor. I can say that the 90 days of intense work, sobriety, and attending 2 PASG meetings a week did help. I received a very a good sponsor who did show compassion and kindness while I gave all I could to the program. Then it came to the day where I worked all twelve steps and guess what you are now a sponsor! I was stressed out of my mind thinking it was to soon but I did make a commitment and I intended to make good on that. I talked to Mark G and he preached to me for almost two hours about the new 12 week program using Google Drive. After being more confused and nervous after talking to him I was set up to take sponsees. I did my best but I was flooded with three guys who I didnt know how to help other than relate to and encourage. Again I did my best to offer empathy and not look holier than thou. Mark then proceeded to send out threatening emails every couple weeks or so to his brand new sponsors about dropping those who werent committed. I thought this was strange and did not drop anyone because I knew how hard it was to do this program.
    After this one of my younger guys who really tried hard informed me that he couldnt do what the program demanded and wanted to stop. I felt so bad because he was making progress but wished him all the luck in the world and my phone number if he ever needed help with anything. After I told this to Mark I was immediately sent another sponsee and then another. I had four guys at one point who needed a lot of support and I spent the time to make sure I could be available for them. I was overwhelmed with the amount I was doing almost two to three hours a day. I know I could have spent less time with these guys but I wanted to put my whole heart into helping and I didnt know what was really required of a sponsor.
    Skip forward to another threatening email from Mark this last weekend that I and others werent doing their daily accountability and would be dropped as sponsors. I immediately email back saying that I was sorry and would try harder with the spreadsheet which is a chore to fill out everyday. I was then told I was being a terrible example and hypocrite and I needed to step down immediately. I wrote back in very positive way and all of sudden I get an email back from him again saying I am no longer a sponsor and I have lost my sponsees. Wait what? Who made you God to tell me these things and attack my character?! Not sure if anyone has a had a similar experience but that took its toll on me today. Thanks for your insight Anoni it helped me a lot sir. I am eight months sober now and intend to keep it that way, I can only do that by relying on the merits of the Savior, this is the one good thing it taught me in the 90 day program. Best of luck to all of you who struggle with this addiction. I am now going to try and be a sponsor at a local level if possible.

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    1. Oh man, that is terrible! I'm sorry man. Your experience is not unlike many I've heard from those who have gone through this gauntlet.
      It takes a lot of courage to speak up and state what went on with you. Thanks for sharing.
      To me, evidence of genuine sobriety is shown by behavior change, and behavior change that can be seen, aligning more with Christ.
      What I've been told by several men who've tried to go through this, shows me there's no genuine development of Christ like behavior. In fact, it appears to be the opposite.
      Who gives the right to tell someone they aren't able to sponsor?
      In SA the requirements for sponsorship are; be further along in the program and sobriety than the one you sponsor. Who gives the right to take away someone's sponsees? If the sponsee wants to continue with his sponsor, it is his choice. AGENCY.
      From what I know of God, and granted that isn't a ton, but I do know this, that the most important thing to God is our agency, our ability to choose.
      I feel for you man, and from what you've said I am willing to bet that you will make a great sponsor to those who come to you for help and support. I can see that you really care. That's freaking awesome man. Good for you.
      And that's awesome that you have 8 months sobriety. Every day we are sober is a miracle from God. And you've got 8 months worth of miracles to look on for thanks and love to God.
      Thank you for sharing!

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  10. I enjoyed reading these comments and to be honest feel guilty about not continuing with the ARP program it has helped me begin to understand my relationship with God and Christ. I have attended several APR meetings and felt while sharing was helpful I needed more give and take and have wanted to get a sponsor but never opened my mouth to get one. What does PASG stand for and how do I find SA meetings?

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    1. PASG = Pornography Addiction Support Group, or the pornography addiction-centric ARP meetings.

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