Jezza was fascinated with cigarettes from a young age. Alcohol and drug addictions became major problems in his life. Read how his depression and troubles with addictions were finally overcome.
Secure, loving home life as a kid
I grew up in a caring Christian home and I never felt I wasn’t loved. I never felt unsafe or hurt as a kid. Mum and Dad were there to protect us and although we didn’t have much money, we always felt loved. We had something to do whether it was riding a bike or making up a billycart ourselves. There was always love between us brothers and sister.
Introduced to alcohol at a young age
As I grew up I had a fascination for cigarettes and smoking. I came from a country town and really the only entertainment was the cricket club, the football club and the pub. The cricket club and the football club were pretty liberal with their ‘grog’ and it wasn’t hard to get a sip of alcohol and knock off a few cans here and there. I remember in Year 5 in primary school, getting drunk at recess. (It was easy for us kids to get hold of some alcohol from parents.) I loved all that. I loved the feeling of doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing.
Caught in a vicious circle
Things just went on from there. When I was sixteen, I was a hardened drinker, getting drunk every Friday and Saturday night and sometimes the nights in between. Up until I was in my thirties I don’t remember ever being sober on the weekends. We were also into dope, speed, and magic mushrooms. The group I was in didn’t do things by half measures. We’d buy an eighteen-gallon keg between the six of us and drink until we passed out, spewed up or fell over. Or we would eat mushrooms or smoke until we couldn’t stand up. This seemed exciting for a while but we stayed in the same spot doing the same old stuff while others moved on. I was losing great sections of time. I couldn’t remember what happened during the night. I can’t remember half my life! Then there’d be that niggling feeling in the back of my head; “What have I done?” or “Who have I offended?” So I’d drink to forget. It was a vicious circle.
Rebellion feels good at the time
My mate and I made a pact to burnout
The older I got, the more depressed I got. I went to a party and that night a bloke died. I couldn’t remember what happened that night. I was accused of this bloke’s murder and that hung over me for three years, the hopelessness of it all. Sometimes I wouldn’t get out of bed until the pub opened. I was bored if I didn’t have a stimulant in me to keep me going. I had a good mate who I used to drink with. One night we cut our fingers and said; “right, we’re blood brothers, let’s make a pact. We’ll burn ourselves out before we reach thirty.” (In other words we would drink ourselves to death before we were thirty.) And when that mate went through a T intersection and smashed into a tree and died when he was aged 29, it gave me a bit of a shock but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to bring me to my senses.
Jezza having a drink
I moved away from my hometown as I suspected people were getting a bit sick of me always drinking. Mum and Dad were scared of me. I would come home, ranting and raving or I’d be swearing in my sleep. The publicans were sick of me, as I’d end up sleeping on the floor or spewing in the ashtray. However, things didn’t change when I moved away. I had a number of mad affairs with women but I was probably madder than they were. It just went on and on and on. I was known as ‘the drunk’. People would say; “he’s a good bloke when he’s sober but a nut case when he’s drunk.” One bloke said I was picked up down the main street yelling, “I am the devil” and that really shocked me because I was bought up to believe in God. I still did believe in God but I was so far away from Him.
Trying to get things together
I broke up with the woman I had been going with for about four years. She actually took me to church a couple of times. I actually said the ‘Sinners Prayer’ but I don’t think there was much in it as I had smoked a joint, had half a dozen ciders and it certainly didn’t change my ways. I was living with a woman but we were not married. I had shocking depression. I was living on people’s couches. Some people I knew told me I should move and try and get myself together. This was a good idea as it got me away from the scene a bit and these people fed me some nice tucker! My mate sent me home with a bible called “The Message” which is the New Testament part of the bible written in street language.
Being depressed makes little things seem difficult
I read it through three times and it was good. It really bought some sort of relief. I bought a house. It hadn’t been lived in for years and it needed cleaning out. I had to get an electrician. Now when you’re depressed, even little things can be like a big mountain so to organise an electrical installation seemed like a real big job. I was staying in the pub before I moved into the house. (A pub is not a good place for an alcoholic to stay in!) I asked the barmaid if she knew of any electricians. As she started to write down the name of two of them, they both walked past. I took my opportunity and asked them if they could do some work. Everything went well and in a week I was set up in the house.
Trying to get ahead
It was a relief to have a place of my own. I had been putting others out by living on other people’s doorsteps. Now I had a place to think and be alone. But there were still problems. I was still depressed and drinking heavily and I couldn’t hold down a job. A fellow who was even worse than I was came to live with me but this was not a good idea. So a friend of mine (Pete) got a house for this fellow to live in.
A time of commitment
I started to go to church and I went a few times when out of the blue Pete asked me to go to another church. I felt a real connection with some of the people. One guy from the church used to have a smoking addiction smoking 90 cigarettes a day. Another guy was an alcoholic and a musician. I went to church but I used to ‘nick out’ at the end and not talk to anyone. After a few weeks, the pastor said; “Has anyone not taken Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and did anyone want to make a commitment to God?” I thought there is nothing holding me back. I was now living by myself and I have to look after myself. I said a simple prayer. It went something like; “Lord I believe you are the Son of God. I believe you walked on earth, died and rose again. Lord forgive me for my sins and I take you as my Lord and Saviour.” I said this prayer and meant it and as soon as I said it, tears starting streaming down my face and I felt a sensation in my body. I thought; “Wow, what’s going on?”
The dope stops working for me
A few weeks later, I was still unemployed and still feeling hurt about a woman I had been involved with. I was in the front yard doing a bit of a jig and humming and for some unknown reason I thought; “What is going on?” “I don’t feel hurt any more and it was like something had been lifted off me. This is encouraging, there is light at the end of the tunnel.” There was a smile on my face. I kept going to church and started having a cup of coffee after the service. I was still having a joint before church and a couple of beers in the pub after church. I had been smoking dope for many years. All of a sudden dope stopped working for me! It was not getting me stoned and all it was doing was making my chest feel tight so I couldn’t breathe and it just got worse and worse. The dope was also making me eat twice as much as I should have and it was making me ‘cough my head off’ as well.
Out with the marijuana; in with an incredible feeling of peace
I had had enough of the dope so I said; “Lord I have had enough! Take this addiction for marijuana away from me.” It was like a crutch, as I usually had to have a joint after work and I couldn’t talk to people if I didn’t have a joint first. The next day I didn’t even feel like one. I did feel a real peace. I felt like something had been lifted off but something else had been put back in; something a lot better than marijuana.
What about the tobacco as well?
A week later I heard a voice (not audible but knowing) said to me; “What about the tobacco as well?” (I knew this was not from me as I loved cigarettes and had never even tried to give them up. So I knew this idea to give up cigarettes had not come from me.) I said; “Oh ? OK” It was as simple as that! I gave up cigarettes and I had no cravings nor did I feel uncomfortable that I didn’t have a cigarette in my hand as they say happens with many people who try to give up. In the past, I couldn’t face the day if I didn’t have my cigarettes.
Alcohol addiction also disappears
Another week later, I had the urge to go to the pub. I thought I’d better watch myself with this one as I thought this urge was not from God. I went to town and went to a few places and I hoped the urge would go away. It didn’t, so I went to the pub. In the past, I had lost my licence for drink driving and I had run off the road three times in the last three months. So I bought a ‘light’ stubby and went and leaned on the fireplace. To my left a group of girls were talking about filthy things and that literally made me sick. To my right were a group of blokes who were smoking and drinking. They reminded me of Bill the Steam Shovel from Mr. Squiggle as the smoke from their cigarettes rose into the air around them. I looked at them I thought; “They’re dead.” It was as if I looked into their chests and could see their black hearts. It was like they had been scorched. I got out of the pub and I’ve never been back. I never had any withdrawals from not drinking alcohol and I have never had a drop since.
The incredible feeling of peace
That night such a peace came into me that I can’t describe. There has been a smile on my face ever since and it doesn’t look like it’s going to leave! Some people have a stereotype in their mind of what a Christian looks like but it doesn’t matter what we look like or where we have been. God loves you and wants you to come to know Him. It has been a very long, hard road for me to find that out. For someone who was so depressed and without purpose, to all of a sudden have peace in my life. Sometimes I have to slap myself and I think: “Wow, I have nothing to worry about”. I have no addictions to fulfil. I have peace in my life at last.
‘It’s real, mate!’
Look, it’s real; believing in Jesus really works! The love of God is the most powerful thing anyone can have in their life. If you have not taken on Jesus as your Lord and Saviour I encourage you to do so. It’s something between you and God and it works! The only way you can experience it is to try it for yourself.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
Jesus promises us, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Try it; it works!
The Reason (music video)