Collected by Jane Birch
LDS Church Leaders warn us frequently to avoid addictions OF ALL KINDS, including food addiction. The basic process of addiction is the same, whether it is a substance or a behavior, so most of the advice relevant to one addiction is equally relevant to all addictions. For this reason, I have collected the following quotes. They are about a variety of addictions, but they can all help with food addictions as well.
See also: Overcoming Food Addictions
Robert D. Hales, “Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually,” LDS General Conference (April 2009).
Today I speak to all whose freedom to choose has been diminished by the effects of ill-advised choices of the past. I speak specifically of choices that have led to excessive debt and addictions to food, drugs, pornography, and other patterns of thought and action that diminish one’s sense of self-worth. All of these excesses affect us individually and undermine our family relationships. . . . for both debt and addiction, the hopeful solution is the same—we must turn to the Lord and follow His commandments. We must want more than anything else to change our lives so that we can break the cycle . . .
Our challenges, including those we create by our own decisions, are part of our test in mortality. Let me assure you that your situation is not beyond the reach of our Savior. Through Him, every struggle can be for our experience and our good (see D&C 122:7). Each temptation we overcome is to strengthen us, not destroy us. The Lord will never allow us to suffer beyond what we can endure (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).
We must remember that the adversary knows us extremely well. He knows where, when, and how to tempt us. If we are obedient to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we can learn to recognize the adversary’s enticements. Before we yield to temptation, we must learn to say with unflinching resolve, “Get thee behind me, Satan” (Matthew 16:23).
Our success is never measured by how strongly we are tempted but by how faithfully we respond. We must ask for help from our Heavenly Father and seek strength through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ.
In seeking to overcome . . . addictive behaviors, we should remember that addiction is the craving of the natural man, and it can never be satisfied. It is an insatiable appetite. When we are addicted, we seek those worldly possessions or physical pleasures that seem to entice us. But as children of God, our deepest hunger and what we should be seeking is what the Lord alone can provide—His love, His sense of worth, His security, His confidence, His hope in the future, and assurance of His love, which brings us eternal joy.
M. Russell Ballard, “O That Cunning Plan of the Evil One,” (General Conference, October 2010).
The goal of the fly fisherman is to catch trout through skillful deception. The adept fisherman studies trout behavior, weather, the water current, and the types of insects trout eat and when those insects hatch. He will often craft by hand the lures he uses. He knows these artificial insects embedded with tiny hooks need to be a perfect deception because the trout will identify even the slightest flaw and reject the fly. . . .
The use of artificial lures to fool and catch a fish is an example of the way Lucifer often tempts, deceives, and tries to ensnare us.
Like the fly fisherman who knows that trout are driven by hunger, Lucifer knows our “hunger,” or weaknesses, and tempts us with counterfeit lures which, if taken, can cause us to be yanked from the stream of life into his unmerciful influence. And unlike a fly fisherman who catches and releases the fish unharmed back into the water, Lucifer will not voluntarily let go. His goal is to make his victims as miserable as he is.
Lehi said, “And because he [Lucifer] had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind” (2 Nephi 2:18).
The battle over man’s God-given agency continues today. Satan and his minions have their lures all around us, hoping that we will falter and take his flies so he can reel us in with counterfeit means. He uses addiction to steal away agency. According to the dictionary, addiction of any kind means to surrender to something, thus relinquishing agency and becoming dependent on some life-destroying substance or behavior.
Researchers tell us there is a mechanism in our brain called the pleasure center. When activated by certain drugs or behaviors, it overpowers the part of our brain that governs our willpower, judgment, logic, and morality. This leads the addict to abandon what he or she knows is right. And when that happens, the hook is set and Lucifer takes control.
Satan knows how to exploit and ensnare us with artificial substances and behaviors of temporary pleasure. I have observed the impact when one struggles to win back control, to become free from destructive abuse and addiction, and to regain self-esteem and independence.
There is also great concern about some of the pernicious, addictive behaviors like gambling and evil pornography that are so personally destructive and so rampant in our society. Remember, brothers and sisters, any kind of addiction is to surrender to something, thus relinquishing agency and becoming dependent. Thus, video-gaming and texting on cell phones need to be added to the list. Some gamers claim to spend up to 18 hours a day going through level after level of video games, neglecting all other aspects of their lives. Texting on cell phones can become an addiction, causing the important interpersonal human communication to become lost. . . .
Medical research describes addiction as “a disease of the brain.” This is true, but I believe that once Satan has someone in his grasp, it also becomes a disease of the spirit. But no matter what addictive cycle one is caught in, there is always hope. The prophet Lehi taught his sons this eternal truth: “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27).
If anyone who is addicted has a desire to overcome, then there is a way to spiritual freedom—a way to escape from bondage—a way that is proven. It begins with prayer—sincere, fervent, and constant communication with the Creator of our spirits and bodies, our Heavenly Father. It is the same principle in breaking a bad habit or repenting from sin of any kind. The formula for having our heart, our body, our mind, and our spirit transformed is found in the scriptures.
H. Burke Peterson, “Touch Not the Evil Gift, Nor the Unclean Thing,” LDS General Conference (October 2003)
Part of the tragedy I speak of is that many men and boys do not recognize they are trapped or soon will be. Unfortunately, I fear even some within the sound of my voice have an addiction and do not realize it. They see this as a form of entertainment that serves as a relief from the troubles of the day. In point of fact and in reality, it is only relieving them of their spirituality and their capacity to draw on the powers of heaven in times of need.
The Doctrine and Covenants gives a warning and a promise. The promise says that “if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:67).
In an application of this scripture today, it is my understanding that anytime we look at or listen to the kind of material we have been speaking of—even in its mildest form—the light inside of us grows dimmer because the darkness inside increases. The effect of this is that we cannot think as clearly on life’s challenges—be they business, church, school, family, or personal—because the channel to the source of all light for the solving of problems is cluttered with various unclean images. Our entitlement to personal revelation on any subject is severely restricted. We don’t do as well in school or at work. We are left more on our own, and as a result we make more mistakes and we are not as happy. Remember, our mind is a wonderful instrument. It will record and keep whatever we put into it, both trash and beauty. When we see or hear anything filthy or vulgar, whatever the source, our mind records it, and as it makes the filthy record, beauty and clean thoughts are pushed into the background. Hope and faith in Christ begin to fade, and more and more, turmoil and discontent become our companions.
“The secret to cleansing our spirit of whatever the impurity is not very complicated. It begins with [sincere, heartfelt] prayer every morning and ends with prayer every night. This is the most important step I know in the cleansing process. It may simply be a prayer for strength to turn from bad habits,” or a prayer that sin will be distasteful to you (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 39).
Meanwhile, remember that not all prayers are answered the same day or even the next day. Sometimes it takes a long time. But “with this step in place, I have seen hundreds of miracles take place. Without it, there is continued frustration, unhappiness, ineffectiveness, and despair” (ibid.).
If you have tried and have given up, I plead with you to try again and again and again. Our Heavenly Father will not forsake your efforts if you persist.
The second step in this plan of attack is to gain an added measure of spiritual strength through a daily study of the scriptures. Your study need not be long, but it should be every day. If I were you, I would read the scriptures tonight and never let a day pass without reading in them, even if only for a few minutes. There is an added measure of inspiration promised to those who read the scriptures regularly (ibid.).
The scriptures will assist us to overpower darkness with light.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Are You Sleeping through the Restoration?” LDS General Conference (April 2014).
Another thing that may cause us to sleepwalk through this significant season of the world is addiction.
Addictions often begin subtly. Addictions are thin threads of repeated action that weave themselves into thick bonds of habit. Negative habits have the potential to become consuming addictions.
These binding chains of addiction can have many forms, like pornography, alcohol, sex, drugs, tobacco, gambling, food, work, the Internet, or virtual reality. Satan, our common enemy, has many favorite tools he uses to rob us of our divine potential to accomplish our mission in the Lord’s kingdom.
It saddens our Heavenly Father to see how willingly some of His noble sons extend their wrists to accept the chains of devastating addictions.
Brethren, we bear the eternal priesthood of Almighty God. We are truly sons of the Most High and are endowed with unspeakable potential. We are designed to soar freely through the heavens. We are not meant to be shackled to the earth, imprisoned in straitjackets of our own making.
What is the remedy?
The first thing we must understand is that addictions are so much easier to prevent than to cure. In the Savior’s words, “Suffer none of these things to enter into your heart.” . . . The best defense against addiction is never to start.
But what of those who find themselves in the grip of addiction?
Please know, first of all, that there is hope. Seek help from loved ones, Church leaders, and trained counselors. The Church provides addiction recovery help through local Church leaders, the Internet,7 and in some areas, LDS Family Services.
Always remember, with the Savior’s help, you can break free from addiction. It may be a long, difficult path, but the Lord will not give up on you. He loves you. Jesus Christ suffered the Atonement to help you change, to free you from the captivity of sin.
The most important thing is to keep trying—sometimes it takes several attempts before people find success. So don’t give up. Don’t lose faith. Keep your heart close to the Lord, and He will give you the power of deliverance. He will make you free.
My dear brethren, always keep far away from habits that could lead to addiction. Those who do so will be able to devote their heart, might, mind, and strength to the service of God.
They will not sleep through the Restoration.
James E. Faust, “A Royal Priesthood,” LDS General Conference (April 2006).
I counsel all of you brethren to avoid every kind of addiction. At this time Satan and his followers are enslaving some of our choicest young people through addiction to alcohol, all kinds of drugs, pornography, tobacco, gambling, and other compulsive disorders. Some people seem to be born with a weakness for these substances so that only a single experimentation will result in uncontrollable addiction. Some addictions are actually mind-altering and create a craving that overpowers reason and judgment. These addictions destroy the lives not only of those who do not resist them but also their parents, spouses, and children. As the prophet Jeremiah lamented, “The kings of the earth, and all the inhabitants of the world, would not have believed that the adversary and the enemy should have entered into the gates.”15
The Lord in His wisdom has warned us that substances that are not good for us should be totally avoided. We have been warned not to take the first drink, smoke the first cigarette, or try the first drug. Curiosity and peer pressure are selfish reasons to dabble with addictive substances. We should stop and consider the full consequences, not just to ourselves and our futures, but also to our loved ones. These consequences are physical, but they also risk the loss of the Spirit and cause us to fall prey to Satan.
Boyd K. Packer, “Ye Are the Temple of God,” LDS General Conference (October 2000).
I found in the Word of Wisdom a principle with a promise. The principle: Care for your body; avoid habit-forming stimulants, tea, coffee, tobacco, liquor, and drugs (see D&C 89:3–9). Such addictive things do little more than relieve a craving which they caused in the first place.
The promise: Those who obey will receive better health (see D&C 89:18) and “great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures” (D&C 89:19).
The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man. … All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 181).
Even the severe tests of health or a handicapped or disabled body can refine a soul for the glorious day of restoration and healing which surely will come.
Your body really is the instrument of your mind and the foundation of your character.
Boyd K. Packer, “Revelation in a Changing World,” LDS General Conference (October 1989).
Our physical body is the instrument of our spirit. In that marvelous revelation, the Word of Wisdom, we are told how to keep our bodies free from impurities which might dull, even destroy, those delicate physical senses which have to do with spiritual communication.
The promise is that those who obey will receive “great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures.” (D&C 89:19.) If we abuse our body with habit-forming substances, or misuse prescription drugs, we draw curtains which close off the light of spiritual communication.
Narcotic addiction serves the design of the prince of darkness, for it disrupts the channel to the holy spirit of truth. At present the adversary has an unfair advantage. Addiction has the capacity to disconnect the human will and nullify moral agency. It can rob one of the power to decide. Agency is too fundamental a doctrine to be left in such jeopardy. . . .
It is not just human suffering, even human life, which is at risk; it is all of the personal and social and political and spiritual freedoms for which humanity has struggled for ages. At risk is all that was purchased by the blood of martyrs. Moral agency itself is in jeopardy! If we all pray fervently, the Lord will surely help us. And with those prayers, teach your children to obey the Word of Wisdom. It is their armor and will protect them from habits which obstruct the channels of personal revelation.
Boyd K. Packer, “Covenants,” LDS General Conference (October 1990).
The commandments found in the scriptures, both the positive counsel and the “shalt nots,” form the letter of the law. There is also the spirit of the law. We are responsible for both.
Some challenge us to show where the scriptures specifically forbid abortion or a gay-lesbian or drug-centered life-style. “If they are so wrong,” they ask, “why don’t the scriptures tell us so in ‘letter of the law’ plainness?” These issues are not ignored in the revelations. The scriptures are generally positive rather than negative in their themes, and it is a mistake to assume that anything not specifically prohibited in the “letter of the law” is somehow approved of the Lord. All the Lord approves is not detailed in the scriptures, neither is all that is forbidden. The Word of Wisdom, for instance, makes no specific warning against taking arsenic. Surely we don’t need a revelation to tell us that!
The Lord said, “It is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant.” (D&C 58:26.) The prophets told us in the Book of Mormon that “men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil.” (2 Ne. 2:5; see Hel. 14:31.)
We receive letters pleading for help, asking why should some be tormented by desires which lead toward addiction. . . . They seek desperately for some logical explanation as to why they should have a compelling attraction, even a predisposition, toward things that are destructive and forbidden.
Why, they ask, does this happen to me? It is not fair! They suppose that it is not fair that others are not afflicted with the same temptations. . . .
You may wonder why God does not seem to hear your pleading prayers and erase these temptations. When you know the gospel plan, you will understand that the conditions of our mortal probation require that we be left to choose. That test is the purpose of life. While these addictions may have devoured, for a time, your sense of morality or quenched the spirit within you, it is never too late.
Remember that agency, that freedom of choice that you demanded when you forsook your covenants? That same agency can now be drawn upon to exert a great spiritual power of redemption.
Russell M. Nelson, “Self-Mastery,” LDS General Conference (October 1985).
Before you can master yourself . . . you need to know who you are. You consist of two parts—your physical body, and your spirit which lives within your body. You may have heard the expression “mind over matter.” That’s what I would like to talk about—but phrase it a little differently: “spirit over body.” That is self-mastery.
Remember, “The spirit and the body are the soul of man” (D&C 88:15.) Both are of great importance. Your physical body is a magnificent creation of God. It is his temple as well as yours, and must be treated with reverence. Scripture declares: “Ye are the temple of God. … If any man defile [it], him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Cor. 3:16–17.)
Remarkable as your body is, its prime purpose is even of greater importance—to serve as tenement for your spirit. Abraham taught that “these … spirits … existed before, they shall have no end … for they are … eternal.” (Abr. 3:18.)
Your spirit acquired a body at birth and became a soul to live in mortality through periods of trial and testing. Part of each test is to determine if your body can become mastered by the spirit that dwells within it.
In your quest for self-mastery, full participation in the activities of the Church will help. I’ll mention but a few. A first step comes as we learn together to keep the Sabbath day holy. This is one of the Ten Commandments. (See Ex. 20:8; Deut. 5:15.) We honor the Sabbath “to pay [our] devotions unto the Most High” (D&C 59:10), and because the Lord declared: “It is a sign between me and you … that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” (Ex. 31:13; see also Ezek. 20:20.)
Another step toward self-mastery comes when you are old enough to observe the law of the fast. As funds are contributed from meals missed, the needs of the poor may be met. But meanwhile, through your spirit, you develop personal power over your body’s drives of hunger and thirst. Fasting gives you confidence to know that your spirit can master appetite. . . .
Fasting fortifies discipline over appetite and helps to protect against later uncontrolled cravings and gnawing habits.
Another step toward self-mastery comes from obedience to the Word of Wisdom. Remember, it contains a “promise, adapted to the capacity of … the weakest of all saints.” (D&C 89:3.) It was given “in consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days.” (D&C 89:4.) Indeed, as you develop courage to say no to alcohol, tobacco, and other stimulants, you gain additional strength. You can then refuse conspiring men—those seditious solicitors of harmful substances or smut. You can reject their evil enticements to your body.
If you yield to anything that can addict, and thus defy the Word of Wisdom, your spirit surrenders to the body. The flesh then enslaves the spirit. This is contrary to the purpose of your mortal existence. And in the process of such addiction, your life span is likely to be shortened, thereby reducing the time available for repentance by which your spirit might attain self-mastery over your body.
Russell M. Nelson,“Addiction of Freedom,” LDS General Conference (October 1988).
Often, however, agency is misunderstood. While we are free to choose, once we have made those choices, we are tied to the consequences of those choices.
We are free to take drugs or not. But once we choose to use a habit-forming drug, we are bound to the consequences of that choice. Addiction surrenders later freedom to choose. Through chemical means, one can literally become disconnected from his or her own will!
“The spirit and the body are the soul of man.” (D&C 88:15.) Both spirit and body have appetites. One of life’s great challenges is to develop dominance of spiritual appetites over those that are physical. Your willpower becomes strong when joined with the will of the Lord.
Addiction to any substance enslaves not only the physical body but the spirit as well. Therefore, repentance is best achieved while one still has a body to help attain spiritual supremacy: “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; … this life is the day for men to perform their labors. …
“Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance; … if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. …
“That same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life … will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” (Alma 34:32–34.)
Certainly modern medical research validates the physical benefits of obedience to the Word of Wisdom. The evidence is so great that many will be taught the right things for only half of the right reasons. With that limited understanding, could they then try a smoke, a drink, or a drug, rationalizing that “just one won’t hurt”? Could the prospect of only future physical rewards even be bait for foolish dares of defiance now? Or to phrase these questions another way, how many would be determined to obey the will of the Lord even if physical benefits were not assured? When God asked Abraham to offer Isaac in sacrifice, did they first seek scientific confirmation that their choice to obey was medically advisable?
The Word of Wisdom is a spiritual law. To the obedient He proclaimed: “I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” (D&C 89:21.)
At the first passover, the destroying angel did pass over houses that were marked with blood on the doorposts. In our day, the faithful keep the Word of Wisdom. It is one of our signs unto God that we are His covenant people.
Thomas S. Monson, “Priesthood Power,” LDS General Conference (April 2011)
Avoid alcohol and tobacco or any other drugs, also addictions which you would be hard pressed to conquer.
Robert D. Hales, “Agency-Essential to the Plan of Life,” LDS General Conference (October 2010).
Our agency—our ability to choose and act for ourselves—was an essential element of this plan. Without agency we would be unable to make right choices and progress. . . . Eternity is at stake, and our wise use of agency and our actions are essential that we might have eternal life. . . . when we choose to do the will of our Heavenly Father, our agency is preserved, our opportunities increase, and we progress.
For example, when we hearken to the Word of Wisdom, we escape the captivity of poor health and addiction to substances that literally rob us of our ability to act for ourselves. . . .
The world teaches many falsehoods about agency. Many think we should “eat, drink, and be merry; … and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved.” Others embrace secularism and deny God. They convince themselves that there is no “opposition in all things” and, therefore, “whatsoever a man [does is] no crime.” This “destroy[s] the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes.”
Dallin H. Oaks, “Be Not Deceived,” LDS General Conference (October 2004).
Satan’s methods of deception are enticing: music, movies and other media, and the glitter of a good time. When Satan’s lies succeed in deceiving us, we become vulnerable to his power. . . .Satan also seeks to deceive us about right and wrong and persuade us that there is no such thing as sin. This detour typically starts off with what seems to be only a small departure: “Just try it once. One beer or one cigarette or one porno movie won’t hurt.” What all of these departures have in common is that each of them is addictive. Addiction is a condition in which we surrender part of our power of choice. When we do that we give the devil power over us. The prophet Nephi described where this leads: the devil says, “There is no hell,” and, “I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance” (2 Ne. 28:22).
Beware of the slick package and the glitz of a good time. What the devil portrays as fun can be spiritually fatal.
James E. Faust, “It Can’t Happen to Me,” LDS General Conference (April 2002).
So that some things “can’t happen to us,” I suggest we learn from President Spencer W. Kimball’s counsel: “Develop discipline of self so that, more and more, you do not have to decide and redecide what you will do when you are confronted with the same temptation time and time again. You need only to decide some things once. How great a blessing it is to be free of agonizing over and over again regarding a temptation. To do such is time-consuming and very risky.”
Russell M. Nelson, “Face the Future with Faith,” LDS General Conference (April 2011).
Obedience allows God’s blessings to flow without constraint. He will bless His obedient children with freedom from bondage and misery. And He will bless them with more light. For example, one keeps the Word of Wisdom knowing that obedience will not only bring freedom from addiction, but it will also add blessings of wisdom and treasures of knowledge.
Why do we need such resilient faith? Because difficult days are ahead. Rarely in the future will it be easy or popular to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. Each of us will be tested. The Apostle Paul warned that in the latter days, those who diligently follow the Lord “shall suffer persecution.”12 That very persecution can either crush you into silent weakness or motivate you to be more exemplary and courageous in your daily lives.
Mark E. Petersen, “Blessings in Self-Reliance,” LDS General Conference (April 1981).
We have the ever-increasing encroachment of liquor, wine, tobacco, and various narcotics. What shall we do about them?
We shall be loyal enough to the Lord to obey the Word of Wisdom. That law is more vital and pertinent now than ever before in our history. No one can survive the present onslaught of addiction without obeying the Word of Wisdom.
Let us remember that it is against the will of God that any one of us should be in bondage—in any way—neither to sin nor to addiction nor to debt.
“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), He declared—free from sin, free from addiction of all kinds, and free from the slavery of debt. His truth, which is His gospel, will make us free—if we obey Him!
Shall we trust Him? His burden is so much easier than that of the world.
“Come unto me,” He says “… and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28.)
Marvin J. Ashton, “Shake Off the Chains with Which Ye Are Bound,” LDS General Conference (October 1986).
Drugs are not a “quick fix.” They are a quick exit through a door which too often swings only one way—toward heartache and self-destruction.
Believe me when I tell you that some of the saddest sights I have ever witnessed in my life are people living with drug addiction. They are prisoners within their own bodies. Many feel totally helpless, dependent, and desperate. But none should feel hopeless. Lift those chains and fight back for personal dignity, peace, and purpose. Anyone who tells you drug use is the “fun” way is a liar.
James E. Faust, “The Responsibility for Welfare Rests with Me and My Family,” LDS General Conference (April 1986).
Seek to be independent. The Lord said that it is important for the Church to “stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world.” (D&C 78:14.) Members of the Church are also counseled to be independent. Independence means many things. It means being free of drugs that addict, habits that bind, and diseases that curse.
Russell M. Nelson, “We Are Children of God,” LDS General Conference (October 1998).
In time, addictions enslave both the body and the spirit. Full repentance from addiction is best accomplished in this life, while we still have a mortal body to help us.
See also on the lds.org website: “Addition”
Back to: Overcoming Food Addictions
Last Updated: February 16, 2015