Ashly Stone, the host of the Come Back Podcast, was in rehab—again. Despite repeated efforts to overcome her vices and addictions, she seemed to be stuck in a spin cycle. But then something unlikely happened that reminded her that God was still aware of her—she found a Book of Mormon bookmark inside a pink Bible at the Salvation Army.
On this week’s episode of All In, Ashly shared her story of coming back to the Church after years of inactivity and battling drug addiction. As she has turned her heart back to Him, she has found the power to overcome a challenge that once felt insurmountable. She recognizes now that she simply had to receive His love and then make Him the focus of her recovery.
“There are all these little signs and things that you can’t deny, like that Book of Mormon bookmark. And I would be working in the warehouse at the Salvation Army. And I’d be like, ‘I hate this… I’m going home.’ And then all of a sudden, this EFY t-shirt would come through my line that I had to hang up on a hanger. And it would say, ‘Don’t give up, God always has your back,’ or just something like that at just the time I needed to see it,” Ashly says. “And I think, as time goes on, I think God expects more faith from you. It’s not like He’s hitting you upside the head like He does when you first start taking that step back. You’ve got to work for it. He wants you to have faith and to put in the effort to be connected to Him. And so I think that I received those gifts of Him encouraging me to come back.”
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones Pearson: One thing that I thought was so cool as you shared your story was that you talked about a significant moment with the Book of Mormon in rehab and I wondered if you could share a little bit about that.
Ashly Stone: So, I was in rehab for the 15th time or whatever and I was at the Salvation Army in Fresno, California. And I had been in a free detox program before that—it’s free to Fresno County residents—so there were a lot of gang members in there. It was really hardcore, and I’m a little girl from Utah, so it was pretty wild. And then I go to the Salvation Army—similar setup—it’s a free program. There are a lot of people that just have a really hardcore lifestyle that go in there. And I’m the only member of the Church anywhere to be found—not that you could call me a member of the Church at this time because I was very far removed from everything related to the Church.
So, at the Salvation Army, you work 40 hours a week, and I’m thinking, “I don’t even know if I should be here. This is awful.” I haven’t worked in so long, and I’m withdrawing from drugs, and I’ve got to be here working in this warehouse, and it sucks. And the preacher guy pulls me into his office, and he’s like, “Okay, Ashly, pick a Bible for you to use while you’re here at the program.” Because … if you’re familiar with the Salvation Army, it’s all Christian-based. And I’m like, “Okay.” So there’s a shelf with like 100 Bibles on it. And I’m like, “I’ll take the pink Bible.” So he hands me this pink Bible, and I open it up, and there’s a Book of Mormon bookmark in it. I’m just like, “What? Like, how is this even possible that this is in here?” I kept looking at it like, there is no way this is in this book, this Bible. And I knew that was straight from Heavenly Father, "Ashly, I’ve got your back, you are where you need to be." It felt like home. I’m in this foreign place, but there was this little piece of something that feels like home.
Then towards the end of the program, I got a message from somebody that I met in a different treatment center that was a family friend. And he sent me an email just checking in on me to see how I was doing and I told him I was in rehab again. And he’s like, “Ashly if you read the Book of Mormon every single day, I promise you will never go back to your old life.” And at this point, I don’t even know if I can stay sober. I can’t even picture my life sober, I couldn’t even picture being happy without alcohol at least. But I’m like, whatever, I have nothing to lose so I just decided to try it. And I’ve read the Book of Mormon, every single day, for almost 10 years since he told me that. And it’s interesting because there’s a quote by President Nelson that says, “If you read the Book of Mormon every single day, you will be immunized against the evils of the day, including pornography and other mind-numbing addictions.” And I can totally testify that that is so true because I experienced that firsthand in my life.
Morgan Jones Pearson: That’s so awesome. Well, I love how you talked about how religion and the gospel of Jesus Christ did for you what none of those rehab programs that you had attended had been able to do in helping you overcome addiction. You said, “What worked for me was setting a goal for myself that had nothing to do with drugs, but that required me to get off drugs in order to accomplish it.” Ashly, what was that goal, and what was the power behind setting it?
Ashly Stone: I got out of treatment, and I went to live with my parents again, which was totally walking on eggshells situation. They’re just waiting to see what I’m going to do. But I was like, “Okay, I am going to get my limited-use temple recommend.” It had been so long since I had been to church and I was like, “I’m going to do this, and I’m just going to do everything they asked me to do. And I’m just going to see. They say that people are happy in the Church and the Atonement is real and you know, all these things, but I’m going to test it and I’m going to do this little experiment and see if this actually makes me happy. I’ve tried everything else. I’ve been through rehab after rehab. I’ve tried finding boyfriends to make me happy. I’ve tried just all the things and nothing really does it for me so I’m going just do this little test.” So I had to quit smoking, which was really hard. I know everybody vapes today. But back then everybody who was in that scene smoked cigarettes. And so I had to quit smoking. And then I had to quit drinking coffee, which was really hard and it was like my daily routine, it was really challenging to give up, and then I had been chewing Nicorette gum, which I was chewing to quit smoking. So I had to quit doing that too. And I had to go through the repentance process with my bishop. And I had to do all these things. And I got my limited-use temple recommend.
It’s crazy because I had been smoking cigarettes for a long time, and quitting smoking is really hard. Because heroin and its effect—it’s very noticeably ruining your life on a day-to-day basis. You’re stealing stuff, you’re destroying your body, and you can visibly see how your body is messed up. But smoking is a longer clip; it takes longer to kill you. And so that just makes it harder. If you have an addiction that’s damaging your life very quickly, it’s “Okay, I’ve either got to quit doing this or accept the fact that I’m going to die or go to jail, or some other treacherous path.” Smoking is something that you can actually live a life and keep doing it. So it makes it a lot harder to quit because it’s just like a habit that you’re doing every day. Coffee also. And so just the fact that I was able to quit doing it was such a miracle, and can only be described as the enabling power of the Savior’s Atonement. That is the only way I can describe it because it’s still a miracle to this day that I was able to do that.
So, I get my limited-use recommend, and I go to do baptisms for the dead with my singles ward. And I go in there, and it’s been like, you know, 11, 12, 13 years since I’ve been there to do baptisms for the dead, and I’m waiting for this big, huge spiritual experience to happen to me, but it didn’t. But I was in there, and I felt good. And I felt at peace. And I was kind of like, “You know what? I feel okay right now, I feel like this is good.” And so, I was like, “I’m just going to keep going with this, I’m going to keep going with this and see kind of what happens.” And I remember finishing the Book of Mormon and kind of also waiting for this big, huge lightning bolt spiritual experience. That didn’t happen. But I still feel pretty good. “I’m just going to keep going.” So I kept going with it. And I ended up going to California and selling pest control out there. If anyone is from Utah and familiar with door-to-door sales, that’s what I did. And it was actually such a good experience for me because there were some guys there that were just off their missions and they were good examples to me of how covenant-keeping Latter-day Saints live their life and what they do. And they kind of [modeled] that for me, and I was really grateful for that. And I made the commitment, “I am doing this, I’m doing what they told me to do because I feel better than I felt before.” So, I kept just taking the next right step and things just kept getting better and better from there.