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Hockey Player on Thin Ice with Drugs

Jeff was a star on ice.  Pulled up from junior high to start on the high school varsity hockey team, he achieved on every level.  But no matter how well he performed, he constantly felt something he couldn’t put into words.

Jeff explains, “It's a pain and a loneliness that I-I-I truly couldn't convey to another human being because I didn't know what it was from.  And it's not that people didn't love me, ‘cause my parents clearly loved me, but there was just something inside me that I just could not accept love from other people.”

The pressure of achievement intensified his pain.

Jeff says, “It felt like despair, it felt like utter just confusion, darkness, loneliness.  My first encounter with alcohol is it shut down all those insecurities.  It-it shut down all those needs to be accepted.”

At 15, Jeff added cocaine to his alcohol consumption.  

He says, “The only time I really felt like I was able to feel and communicate, I was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.”

Jeff’s performance on the ice, and the classroom, declined.  By his senior year he had been benched.  

He says, “You know, as I graduated high school I was a full-blown drug addict.  All the goals and ambitions that I had a young child, uh, were out the window and the only thing I desired to do is to get high and the only people I wanted to surround myself with were with people that were getting high.”

He graduated in 1988 and got a job in a warehouse.  A year later he checked himself into the first of many treatment centers.

Jeff says at that point, “I think I had a moment of clarity, like life has to have more than this.  The way I'm living it, I'm watching everybody, you know, go on with their lives and pursue their dreams and goals and I was stuck and-and I'm like, ‘I cannot live like this anymore.’”

Between rehabs Jeff was in and out of college, finally graduating in 1995.  Within a year he was married and working his way up in the corporate world.  He also attended AA meetings and even went to church on occasion.  

He says, “I was living that American dream and I had all the things, and I had all these people just in wonder of me of how I was so successful.  And I was so empty.  And I was so unfulfilled.”

Climbing the corporate ladder, being a husband, and then father of two, Jeff managed to stay sober.  But after five years of sobriety, he returned to his old habits.

He says, “It was the pressure of-of being a father, the pressure of being a husband and mostly the pressure of being in corporate business, being promoted at a pretty rapid pace.  And I would get all the things that I thought I needed and what I wanted, but I would still be in want at a great level, and that's why I continuously returned to drugs.”

Jeff landed a dream job in Las Vegas, while at the same time, trying to hide his drug addiction and cope with a failing marriage.

He remembers, “And there I found myself in Las Vegas working a high-level corporate job, flying in corporate jets, but at night I would find myself in hotel rooms with guns and gangs and large amounts of drugs and prostitutes.   And I'll never forget the day when I got fired from that job,  It was humiliating, and there I was by myself, withdrawing, addicted, coming to the end of myself and I just had to come to the grips of, ‘There's got to be a better way to live.’”

Now 35 years old, Jeff checked himself a Christian treatment program, hoping to reconcile with his family.

He says, “So there I was in treatment and-and-and I had hopes and ambitions and dreams again and I was sober.  Even though I had lost everything, I hadn't lost my family.”

That is, until his wife served him divorce papers.

Jeff says, “I'll never forget when that happened I fell to my knees and I cried for the first time in as long as I can remember, and I cried out to Jesus.  That pain brought me to my knees and I called out to Him and I believe that I had felt Him for the first time in my life in a way that I desired to get to know who Jesus was.”

As Jeff studied the Bible and prayed, he began to experience hope.

He says, “I was accepted by Jesus Christ.  And I let Him into my life.  And then I wasn't so concerned if other people accepted me because He had accepted me and He had forgiven me and He has loved me and-and I had learned how to love myself.”

Though Jeff and his wife divorced, they’re now on good terms.  In 2009, he married Monica, also a recovered drug addict, and they blended their families.  Today, they pastor a church and lead one of the largest addiction outreach ministries in the Midwest.

Jeff says, “I found everything in Jesus.  He has to be the forefront of my life.”

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