BATTLE WITH ALCOHOL AND DRUGS

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Chapter 3

Addiction – My Personal Battle With Alcohol And Drugs!

Autobiography Written By~ Bill Greguska

How The Battle Started so Innocently For Me?

Get help today, don’t put it off until later, it may be too late? Alcohol and drugs are very damaging!

My battle with alcohol and drugs snuck up on me like a lamb, but eventually roared like a lion! If you ask me what influence does peer pressure have? I can tell you the answer is A LOT!!! I can still distinctly remember my eighth-grade summer. One evening after supper I rode my bike to the parking lot of St. Gregory, the great church where I attended grade school. I was with five of my friends from the basketball team who were all going to different high schools the next year. To my surprise, they were talking about smoking marijuana. Inside my heart, I knew right away that it was wrong for me to do. But shortly after that, I found myself agreeing to try some. I was under peer pressure, and I wanted to be one of the guys—plus I was curious.

My friends gave me four marijuana joints wrapped in strawberry rolling papers to take with me, and I rode my bike with the marijuana and a book of matches down to the creek to smoke them by myself. I said no to that first temptation to experiment, so I could buy some time to figure out what I should do. I asked an adult that I trusted, but that was a mistake: she responded in a very matter of fact way, leading me to believe that is was not that bad after all. This was the beginning of the downfall of my youth. I was freely throwing it all down the drain without knowing it.

The temptation was there, and my flesh and I fell for it. I was told, and I do believe that peer pressure can be more persuasive than even good upbringing can be. I think that was the case in my life. Kids want to be accepted by others they are with and do and say things that are directly in opposition to what they know in their heart that is right or wrong which their parents and other caring adults have taught them!

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.

When my peers influenced me to try marijuana and once that happened, looking back, it sure changed my life for the worst. There was no doubt that I turned to my ways, which resulted in some very hard times in my life. I was thankful that even though my life was a mess, I was raised with an understanding that God loved me and was convicted that I was not living right. In other words, I had a conscience that made it hard to live for immediate gratification and not living the life God wanted for me.

God allows hard times to happen to allow us to use our free will to turn away from the sin that has entangled us. God, does not cause the hard times but is with us through them, and all we need to do is to reach out to him for his help because he is faithful and just.   Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Is there a difference between so-called “hard” drugs and “soft “drugs? I don’t agree when people say that marijuana is a “soft” drug. Marijuana is a tool of the devil to destroy our lives in a slow and painful way. But there is hope for those like me who wanted to get out of the dead-end trap of that way of life.

I was not the only one who was using marijuana and abusing alcohol. I was just grateful that God gave me what I needed to get my life back on track back in 1986. I cannot say that God tempted me, but I can say that He provided a way out for me when I choose to look for it. Any drug that is not meant for medical healing or improving health in my estimation would be considered either a soft or hard drug and should be treated as something that ought not to be used at all.

Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.

How can something like marijuana or beer become such a powerful tool of destruction? Looking back my addiction was like a little snake at first a little scary, but supposedly harmless. As time went on the snake got bigger and more powerful, and my appetite for marijuana and the lifestyle that went with it grew in proportion. The consequences that went along with the pot and beer started to take effect and create more damage. My lying to my mom and dad increased, and the regularity of being totally stoned and drunk increased, the run-ins with the police increased, and I lost control of my life and choices.

It was like having a love hate relationship with my addiction. I so-called loved the feelings of artificial euphoria, but hated what it was doing to damage myself, my family, healthy relationships I had, it was like no matter what the consequences I was facing, and it seemed like I could not leave the marijuana and alcohol alone. Marijuana and beer (drugs and alcohol) at first were exciting and totally captured my attention, but after a short while, I could see that I was not only doing something I knew was wrong, but I had to start lying to others like my parents, to cover my tracks and the integrity that I did had begun to leave me. The devil was getting the better of me and thing seemed just to snowball over time for the worst!

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

Is the cost of being considered one of the guys worth it? I partied like I played basketball—with all my heart. I tried to outdo others. Seeking recognition and attention are unyielding motivators in my life. With the natural personality that I had and when I added alcohol and drugs to it, I was creating a monster that was getting more and more out of control. I would drink as much as I could just to be one of the guys and belong (belong to what, and for what reason, I do not know?).

I never drank for the taste or refreshment of the alcohol: I drank to get drunk. I recall on my 16th birthday my dad driving us to an Aerosmith rock concert downtown with three of my friends, Kevin, Ron, Patrick. Since we were under age but all at least 6’ tall and wearing suit coats. We got served, and we got more than enough to drink, by the time we got to the concert to hear Aerosmith we were not too sure what was going on. This was not the first time, but it was my birthday, and I looked forward to hearing Aerosmith for a couple of months. We finally got in the concert, and after the pre-band was finished, I thought Aerosmith was done performing, and we all left, never hearing them play. Times like this were not a regular habit, but to me, it was just a warm up for some real bad times that were to come in the future.

I look back now and can see how much I lost out of because of my drinking and drugging! I might have had some so-called fun, but looking back it was not worth it to me at all to get involved with drugs and alcohol like I did. Kids nowadays cannot see past the present to understand what they are potentially heading into when they make a choice to become one of the guys.

Proverbs 23:31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red when it sparkles in the cup when it goes down smoothly. In the end, it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper!

Alcohol and drugs are no laughing matter!

 

How important is it to guard our eyes to what we watch and our ears to what we hear? I liked the taste and feeling I used to get from marijuana. I could smoke it all day if I had the chance, and many days I did just that. I loved to listen to all kinds of loud music, including Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Supertramp, Frank Zappa, and Jethro Tull. I was feeling good and escaping from the reality of the world. I had the words to the music memorized and loved to listen to them over and over, the louder it was, the more I liked it.

I was into myself and trying to find ways to make myself feel good—I thought it would make me happy. I went as far as getting marijuana leaf tattoo (and twenty other tattoos) on my left arm to be radically different and gain attention. I was young and foolish, and I did not want to be told that I could not do what I wanted. I thought I would be smoking marijuana and drinking beer and wine until the day I died, and I wanted to look the part of a party animal that I was trying to play out in my life. For some unknown reason, I thought that it was so-called cool to be stoned and drunk, looking back now, I know it was a lie from the pit of hell.

We all need to be wise to what we allow our eyes to watch and what our ears should hear. Since sin is pleasurable, Satan tempts us with things that our flesh is weak to. That can be in the form of music, movies, alcohol, food, or whatever is your weakness.

Proverbs 21:17 He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.

Why do people make extreme choices about their life, looks, and other personal choices? My first hospital for treatment was when I was 16 years old. The stay was nine months in length with little positive results because I was determined to hold on to that my lifestyle of partying, and I was getting bolder and bolder with my behaviors. I after I got my arms and parts of my body tattooed and shaved my head into a Mohawk hair style, which I dyed red, and shaved my eyebrows off for an extra effect.

I pierced my left ear lobe to make the statement that I was a pot-smoking, hippie freak—and proud of it. I used to wear worn blue jeans and T-shirts always trying to seek negative attention because negative attention was better than no attention at all. There was obviously no fear of the Lord in me during this era of my life. People that make radical choices in their life are not necessarily “bad” people, instead, they most likely if they are anything like me they are people with low self-esteem or have a strong desire for attention, or possibly do not care what others think and love to be different. My basketball testimony went from one extreme to another, but thankfully the Lord kept me near to him, and in time, my life was redeemed from the locusts that eat it away. I praise God for his love and faithfulness in my life!

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

What is the result when a person’s ego and pride gets the best of them? I used to take my boom box and put it on full blast while walking to McCarthy Park. As I walked closer to “Freak Hill” and “Hippy Mountain” everyone knew I was coming by the sound of the wild, hypnotic music that was blaring out loud and clear. My party friends used to smoke pot with me many times for free, but other times we pitched in and bought a nickel or dime bags or ounce worth of marijuana.

We managed to stay high almost all the time somehow or another. We regularly used to buy beer and wine. I was over 6′ tall and looked old enough to buy alcohol. I drank to get drunk, and I smoked to get stoned. What I thought was so cool, and I was proud of my lifestyle. As my ego soared, I became more and more the center of my world. I had no real respect for anyone including myself because deep inside I knew I was doing wrong. My life became so out of control, but I could not stop even if my life depended on it. By this time in my life, I have disgraced my family and many others in my life. It was not God’s plan for my life or for anyone’s life for that matter, it was what it was, and I needed to get control of my life again soon.

With pride comes a fall. A person can think they are getting away with being full of pride, but in the end, it will always do damage in their life. My ego and pride soared as I found pleasure in my addictions until my habits caused me to do things that I would have never done with a clear mind.

1Timothy 3:7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

How do bad choices affect school and life in general? I could not function in school without being in trouble in some way or another. I got expelled from 3 high schools. Drugs and alcohol consumed my life and robbed me good judgment and much opportunities and freedom. They took my clear mind and a soul and rented them to the devil himself. It seemed like there was no way out. My life was adrift for many challenging and testing years. Although it was just the natural consequences of the life that I chose to live unfortunately at that time in my life. My bad choices let me to being expelled three different times, arrested, kicked out of the house, lost a lot of friendships, lost a lot of respect of others and loss of self-respect too, just to name a few things.

Jeremiah 44:10 To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence, nor have they followed my law and the decrees I set before you and your fathers.

Is going into treatment the only way to quit using drugs and alcohol? That was when the Lord took me away from Milwaukee and all the places where I hung out and smoked and drank and acted a fool. I was put in long-term treatment in Gemini program. By the time I got out two years later, I was a new man. This treatment center worked; the other treatment centers lasted 30 days or so and were like a revolving door for me. As soon as I was let out, I went right back to it in the past, but not, this time, thank God!

Treatment was helpful, but short-term treatment and getting right back into the same patterns of life and people I used to party with was very anti-productive! It was not until I went into long-term treatment that lasted two years a couple of hundred miles from home. It was not until then did the treatment center have a big impact on me. Again short-term treatment was like a bandage, but long-term treatment was what I needed. I am not saying a person needs two years away in treatment, but I would say at least six months depending on the severity of the addiction and the person.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Turn in your alcohol and drug problems for a new life!

Is hitting bottom the only way to recover from the results of an addiction? I knew I needed a change of heart and hitting bottom was a way to do it. I not only hit bottom, but I was living on the lower part for a long time. I had nowhere to go. Over time, I became more humble and was ready to do it the way God wanted me to. I was so exhausted of wallowing in the mud, and I was ready to grow up and get the help that I needed. The phrase “A dog returns to its vomit,” reminds me of the first months of my recovery.

I could make it 30 days in a row clean and sober, or even 60 days and got my medallion from N.A. but then return to my old friends and hangouts, seemed always to lead me down the wrong road. It was not until I went into long-term drug and alcohol treatment up north for two years that I finally could stay away for good, the road to my recovery started on June 25, 1986, and by God’s grace, I still am sober over 25 years now. In my case, that hitting bottom was the only way I seem to understand the severity of what I was doing. Yes, some people do not have to hit bottom, but I would question how deep they were into their addiction to be able to walk away without hitting bottom? With God, all things are possible!

2 Peter 2:22  “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”

Does it matter where you get help for your addictions? I attended both Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. I was in Narcotics Anonymous for a total of ten-year. I believe it helped me a lot, but I felt I needed more, which was the church for me. N.A. helped with support and fellowship, but they did not deal with the issue of God and the sin that had me entangled and the spiritual battles I was being tied up in. God sobered me up and cleaned out my heart, not necessarily because of therapy and psychiatry but through his power.

I went to AA for only a few years because most of the people were older than me and I could not relate to them as well as those from N.A. I give God credit for orchestrating my life by putting people like Pastor Mel Ulich as a tool to get me on the right path. He was like a guardian angel because of his persistence in visiting me and feeding the word of God to me. He always encouraged me that God had a plan for me and that God loved me and wanted me to have a personal spiritual relationship with me, my ears were open, and I was finally hearing and understanding what I needed.

It was like an aha moment or like a light bulb went off in my head and heart and soul.   There is no right or wrong answer, but the thing to keep in mind that those who have been down the road before having some insights that others might not have. If you get help from N.A. or A.A. or a counselor or Bible study, it does not matter, just as long as you get help. Alone we are usually not strong enough to overcome such a strong hold, but with help from God and others, there is hope!

Isaiah 35:5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

How does having a child change the way a person looks at life? I was very blessed with a daughter named Sherry, unfortunately, her mother broke off our relationship while she was a few months early during her pregnancy. It was very hard for me knowing I had a daughter, I did get to see her when she was born once, but that was it until Sherry was in 8th grade. Her mother Debbie called me one Saturday afternoon. I was married and when Debbie told me that my daughter wanted to see me because she had occurring dreams about me, and she felt it would be good to be in my life.

We met for the first time at Mayfair mall, and I could not believe she wanted to be a part of my life. I knew I had a child, but her mother left and raised her herself until my daughter was in 8th grade. When Sherry became a part of my life, it was a prayer come true that I thought would never be answered. Having Sherry and I together was and still is a beautiful thing! My little girl is now 29 years old and is married and has a 6-year-old son named Justice. I am so glad that we are together and that in time God answered my prayers!

Psalm 127:3-5 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.

Teens are very susceptible to being caught in the alcohol and drug scene.

How important is it to trust and obey God in how we live life? When I got out of treatment at Gemini and went back to Milwaukee, I was a little scared. I got a job in maintenance and custodial at a church in Brookfield called Elmbrook Church, I held that job for four years and got involved with the church through men’s group and singles groups. Drinking and smoking were far from my mind—one of many miracles of my life. It’s like the force of good (God) fought the force of evil (Satan).

God would protect us from temptations of Satan up to the point of the free will, but he has given each of us a choice decide what we will do in living. God wants the best for us—that is what he set out to do when he created the world and you and me. But when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve and their disobedience to God, things went bad—so bad that God decided to flood the world to rid the world of all the sin the people would not let go. I believe God allowed the natural consequences of my disobedience to teach me because He loves me, and in God’s time I did learn, but with very much pain.

It took me a while to trust and obey, but I am glad that I finally learned the right way to live by doing God’s would not mine. I know both sides of the track, trusting and obeying God and not believing or following God. Having lived on both sides of the track, it makes it so simple to see that to trust and obey there is no other way to live a good life!

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

Does it make a difference if I accept Jesus as my savior or not? I kept choosing wrong ways over and over. God had to address that somehow because God is holy and will not have anything to do with sin. God so loving that he gave me another chance; justice would convict me, but grace covers me. He gave me many chances, and his love and grace are overflowing. Pride was not the major issue in my life any longer because all I put myself and family through had humbled me, and I was seeking out a new life for myself with God in control of it this time, not me. Someday, we will all be judged on judgment day, and without accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I could not have to pay the penalty of my sin, which is death.

Proverbs 3:34 He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.

How important is it really to be “Born Again”? I wanted to live a real life, but I could not or would not let go of the marijuana and beer. They held me, prisoner. I found out the hard way, which took some time, that God is a jealous God and that I could not have the lifestyle of a party animal yet also follow Jesus. Since I know this and believe this, I want others to be saved from their sins too, so that is why I tell others as often as I get the opportunity. I have the faith that, even though things here on earth are hard sometimes, after these years here on earth are over that I will be in heaven with God and all those who also accepted him as their Lord and Savior.

Earth is a temporary tent that lasts about as much as 70-100 years at the most. Eternity will be forever. All of us will be in eternity—either in heaven or either in hell. We are all sinners. Without God’s Son Jesus taking our penalty on the cross—unless we choose to be reborn “born again” and turn from our sin and let Jesus be our payment—we will be lost for eternity.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you had the cure for cancer, would you share it with others?   To me, alcohol and drugs addiction were a snapshot of what hell must be like. I knew in my heart that I did not want anything to do with Hell. In 2005 because of a calling and a heart of gratitude for so many people the had helped me in my life, I started up a phone helpline called the Encouragement Help Line. I did the pre-recorded messages in my basement to let others hear about how good and merciful God is and that there is hope for anyone who comes to him and believes with their heart and confesses with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord. We are all called in our way, and I believe God called me to have the Help Line to reach out to whoever wanted to hear the recorded messages.

The phone number was 414-541-HELP (4357). It has been a privilege to be able to keep it running for seven years, as a way to show gratitude to God and to those who have helped me. It is like my friend Pastor Mark Mallwawitz told me. In my own words, “If you had the cure for cancer in a bottle but would not share it with anyone, you would be a monster, just like if you had the answer for sin being the word of God, but did not share it, wouldn’t that make you a monster too?”

2 Corinthians 1:4 [God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Alcohol and drugs will not solve any problems, they only create them!

How can you tell others about your faith? When you hear about something great to make life better or safer or more joyful, most people will want to tell others. Becoming a Christian is like that. In finding the truth, it is only natural to want to tell others about it. That goes for other things too in life such as overcoming a problem or stronghold such as cigarette smoking, eating, or gambling. After you experience the way out, you want to tell others, so they too many are free.

I still have problems in my life, but now I can face them with a sober and clear mind with the power of the Holy Spirit guiding me. It hurts me to know that there are so many high school kids who have gone through a similar experience to what I did—some have experience that is not as bad as mine, and others’ lives are far worse, some don’t even make it through it alive. It came to me that living on a busy street in Milwaukee, that thousands of people drove by my house each and every day.

This gave me the idea of putting a 5-foot sign on my fence that said, “NeedEncouragement.com.” I also tried to reach others with business cards that I put around the different stores and building around town to let people know about the Encouragement Ministry and its website. I was trying to point people (not to me, but) to God. I think my ideas might have helped because the traffic to my website was sometimes 250 visits per week, which I felt was pretty impressive!

Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Is there any limit on what God can do in your life? But there is hope! And the hope starts with getting to know God, trusting in his promises, and being open to how he wants to help you through others. I sometimes wonder how things would be if I never started to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana and cigarettes. God relieved me from my addiction to cigarettes on January 10, 1988, How different would life have been for me? I will never know what that life would be like, but I know that God has given me another chance, and I plan to use it the best I can to glorify him in my life by the way I live it.

I had faith that God could and would restore my life, but I did not know how long it would take. I will be honest, I did have some doubt from time to time, but I figured my best option was to fight those feelings and just trust God because I had faith that God could do anything.

Psalm 142:7 Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me. Do you count the costs involved before you do something?

I enjoyed some moments of my party days because there is temporary pleasure in sin, but the momentary pleasures that I got were not worth the years of pain I have experienced, plus the times I had to spend in jail because of it, plus the pain that my family and friends went through because of me. If it were up to me, my prayer would be that all people would be wiser to see how dangerous and damaging alcohol or the use of drugs is. But if that is not possible I pray that God would put people in these hurting lives who can help them as He did for me.

God has forgiven me of all my past sins, yet sometimes He still allows the consequences of our sin. I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind but now I see. I try to count the cost before I do anything, but sometimes I do not, or choose to overlook the consequences because I want what I want purposely, and my heart has temporary been hardened, and I have fallen for the temptation.

Matthew 17:20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Where have you found your confidence in life? God helped me like he helped King David who with Gods help defeated the lion, then the bear, which gave him the confidence to defeat Goliath. The same goes for me in my life looking back to what He delivered me from I have too learned like King David to rely on his power to anything. On my own, I struggled and failed so many times it makes me sad until I got right with God and humbly asked him to remove these great walls that once make me a prisoner.

What else can I say but that I thank the Lord for setting me free! It took me time to realize all that God delivered me from before I could understand that God could do way more than I could ever imagine. God has been my confidence, and when God allows me to carry out something like when I quit drugs and alcohol, that experience gave me confidence for when I was trying to stop smoking cigarettes which I also did! My basketball testimony was not what I would call a picture perfect story, but it was my story, and God worked it out for good!

1 Samuel 17:37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. “Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

Are you ready to fight the good fight in life? The battle is not over—even though with the help of the Lord, I have had the victory over drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and a wild, sinful party animal lifestyle. Who knows how God is going to work in my life next. Now that I’m growing to know Him better and better over the years, I am confident that I am in good hands. It’s amazing to see what He already has done in my life so far!

What God has done in my life so far, gives me the confidence to believe without a doubt that He has a plan for my life as well as your life. Being ready to fight the good fight means to have a plan, and to follow it out. The important question is where do I get the wisdom to make plans? From God? From others? Or from my own? When I follow the plan that God has outlined for me, I am totally ready to handle anything!

Deuteronomy 5:7 You shall have no other gods before me.

Do you or someone you know personally that has experienced alcohol or drugs that rob them of a dream that they had in life? Basketball was the center of my thoughts—quite simply: Basketball was my god. Looking back as I got older I understood that God is a jealous God but allowed me to put basketball before him. He woke me up by taking basketball away from me, allowing alcohol and drugs steal the enjoyment I was getting from the game. My basketball career was a pretty good for my age until I started experimenting and getting involved with alcohol and marijuana my sophomore year and the summer before my junior year.

Then my basketball future seemed to crash and burn right before my eyes; maybe it was God’s way to tell me that I was valuing basketball more than I should have been. If the person was you, or someone you know, then reading this books and going to www.NeedEncouragement.com are two great ideas to consider.

Exodus 34:14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

How important do you think having a good reputation is to have? The only reason I believe I made the varsity team my junior year was my past reputation with the coaches and players at Pius XI High School. I was really out of shape and very depressed because of my drug use and the life I was living. I didn’t know if I should even go out for the team, but I loved the game so much. My mom encouraged me to take the dog for a walk and think it over. As I was walking, I can remember going through the 6-inch snow in the front yard, and my dog was pulling me to go faster. “Eye of the Tiger,” the theme song from the Rocky movies that were popular then, believe it or not, the Rocky music motivated me and pushed me forward to try out for the team.

This was a big turning point in my life at that time, it was like an all or nothing thing for me, and deciding not to quit was not only good for my basketball days but my life overall. Bottom line, the Devil used my flesh to tempt me with drugs, alcohol, and the lust of my eyes. People can be quick to judge, having a good reputation is a crucial thing to get! Without a good reputation, others tend not to trust you, and your life could be series of disappointments and very frustrating!

1 Timothy 3:7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

What do you do when your world seems to fall apart right in front of your eyes? I made the team that year but did not get much playing time. Just the fact of just being on the team gave me the hope I needed to keep going another year, which ended with me being expelled from school. The school was rightly frustrated at my poor choices in experimenting with marijuana and alcohol. After I had got expelled, I ended up in treatment for nine months, away from home, scared at the age of 16. It was the start of a long winding road with many pitfalls and a lot of difficulties trying to learn from experience.

I felt as though all I worked so hard for was no longer a reality any longer. I was getting a clue that the way I was choosing to live was not acceptable and would not be tolerated. It very hard to see my life crumble right before my eyes, but life goes on, and God was faithful to me. Even though I felt the pain of failure, I knew that God did not abandon me, so I kept plodding on as my life slowly got back on track. Long-term alcohol and drug treatment helped a lot and the fact that my mom did not give up on me throughout the entire time I was down.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 

Flee from alcohol and drugs while you still can!

What is one major reason many people do dumb things? I know I would not have done a fraction of the stupid things without being under the influence. The main reason my grades stayed, at least, C was because of basketball and the leverage my mom used. I learned a lot of positive things from basketball such as discipline, doing my best, and working hard individually and as a team. Indeed, the game was my only real motivation, and my Mom, who was wise used it well. I learned that I found the most rest for my soul when I was living the life that God wanted me to live, not my way. There are a lot of underlining reasons people do dumb things, but in my personal experience, I would say that alcohol and drugs would be the top two reasons!

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Is the use of drugs and alcohol worth it? I honestly wish I did not get involved with marijuana and alcohol, because the pain it caused me, my family and friends. It was not worth the few moments of euphoria that I got. I wound up getting expelled from 2 more high schools: West Allis Central and Nathan Hale. In the end, I got a GED (general equivalency diploma) from MATC School. It was very difficult for me not because I was dumb but because I was trying to do it my way—and my way was the wrong way.

My way was leading me to death, but I am so thankful that God had other plans for my life that I had to wait to see. Are you sure your life is leading you to eternal life with Jesus Christ? I think most people would believe that their use of drugs and alcohol is worth the risk, or else they would not try it in the first place. After having a problem with both, I think with our doubt that I was so foolish to try in the first place. Deceived by the devil himself!

2 Corinthians 1:4 [God] comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

How can someone help others after having gone through a problem of their own? I hope and pray that this book will reach a lot of teenage people who want to do their own thing with drugs and alcohol and sex. I hope God uses my story to help them find hope through the Holy Spirit and other Christians to find out doing my thing, almost cost me my life. I was fortunate that God gave me many chances to fly straight, as he will for all those who have gone astray.

The scripture from 2 Corinthians 1:4 was the verse that Pastor Sauers wife, Sue told me about that got the Encouragement Ministry started back in 2005 with the Encouragement Help Line. I also learned that when I was going through a depression, that trying to help others is one of the best ways to help us. Operating the 24-hour Encouragement Help Line while I was going through my separation and divorce, I believe was a gift from God, it kept my thoughts off the pain I was going through by focusing on trying to help others with the phone help line.

Later on, the website NeedEncouragement.com again kept my focus off of myself and onto others. As a result of our problems in life, we are more than able to help others through our experiences. This can be through many different avenues: one on one, making a website, phone help line, volunteer at church or at a clinic or hospital setting, or any other way that you can reach out to other to give others hope for a better life!