It was only when Jeff’s life spiralled to a place of despair that he began to change.
Using drugs for me was just normal; it was something I had done from a young age and something I thought I would always do. I was stuck in a 20-year cycle of destructive behaviours that robbed and destroyed many years of happiness for myself and those around me.
Addiction took me to a place I never thought I would go, and turned me into a person I never thought I’d be. It took losing everything I held dear and everything I owned to see it for what it was, and to make the decision to stop.
But wanting to stop wasn’t enough; I felt powerless. I felt the most afraid and alone I’d been in my whole life. I kept spiralling down to rock bottom, a place of despair, hopelessness and wanting to end it all.
This rock bottom became a gift — it allowed me to let go, to surrender. It gave me a profound spiritual experience that would change my life forever. The relief and release I felt provided a spark of hope to keep going.
This is where my recovery journey really began, and it went well for a while until I realised that trying to engineer my own transformation with my own rules and power wasn’t going to work.
My next experience of surrendering was my self-will and pride, and this opened me up to ask for the support of others. This gave me direction and clarity, but after a while it was apparent something was still missing and I relapsed yet again.
A chance meeting with one of the staff from The Salvation Army’s START program changed everything, I was invited to attend the program and the caring manner of this meeting really encouraged my decision to go.
I instantly felt welcomed and accepted at the START community, something I hadn’t experienced in a long time. It gave me hope. It was a community that carried me until I started to believe and have faith in myself, a community where I was free to be honest and open about what I was experiencing with no judgment. These experiences helped soften my heart and heal me.
In the process of my recovery came a desire to give back, to use my experience and the qualities I unearthed along the way to help others also experience this freedom.
I went on to do study in the alcohol and other drugs (AOD) field, returning to the START community for my practical placement and staying on as a volunteer. At the beginning of this year I was grateful to be given the opportunity to work with the START community.
During my recovery someone I trusted and respected in this community suggested to me that being open to the possibility of God would be of value to my growth, so I took this suggestion and started to explore what this might mean for me.
I felt a lot of resistance because of the beliefs and attitudes I held about God and religion. It was more a gradual letting go of my limited and unhealthy image of God, but with the guidance and support of The Salvation Army community, I began to hear the ‘good news’ in a constructive, not defensive, manner.
I was introduced to Bible study and began attending church regularly and today this is the cornerstone of my spiritual practice. It is of great importance to me to continue to seek and strengthen the relationship I have built with God and to be open to him to work his wonders through me.
Along this journey there have been many profound experiences and life-changing moments but the biggest impact on me has come from getting to know God and becoming a ‘Follower of the Way’. To know God is at work in me today and that he has a plan for me gives me comfort, and I am willing to hand my life over to him.
The Salvation Army is one of Australia’s largest providers of alcohol and other drug treatment services. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol, drugs or gambling, we can help.
For more information, go to www.salvationarmy.org.au/need-help/addiction-rehabilitation/