“From Addiction to Conversion,” Ensign, Aug. 1999, 62
Before I heard about the Church, I started using drugs as a young man in Brazil. Looking back, I now know that I was seeking an understanding of myself and of life that could come only from the Spirit of the Lord.
For a time, the drugs gave me the impression of having total control over my life. But the effects lasted only a short while, and soon I was more depressed than before. I drugged myself more and more heavily, and it seemed I was always either extremely excited or extremely down. My parents did not know what to do. Several times I thought about suicide, but I thank Heavenly Father that I never made an attempt on my life.
As time went on, I moved away to work in another city and eventually put together enough money to leave Brazil. I traveled to Israel and later to Europe, where I worked in factories, hotels, and farms. I made many friends, learned new languages, and felt full of adventure. Nevertheless, I used drugs whenever the opportunity arose.
I sent money to my sweetheart, and she came to Europe. We did not live the law of chastity, so our relationship was very confused. Shortly after we returned to Brazil, she became pregnant. We married; later, our son was born. However, even that was not enough to make me stop using drugs. My wife and I quarreled over my drug use, and my lack of education and professional skills caused financial stress.
When we were at the point of separating, a miracle happened. At the time, we were friends with some neighbors who had seven-year-old twin daughters. When the twins turned eight, their mother invited us to attend their baptisms. We accepted the invitation because we liked visiting meetings of different religions. I realized that deep inside I felt a hope that something would happen to change my life.
At the baptismal service we witnessed the joy of the twins and their family and became friends with other members. Two missionaries asked if we wanted to hear the discussions, and we accepted. With each lesson, my wife and I became more and more amazed, and we acquired a testimony of what was being taught.
Even so, with all of those marvels happening in my life, I could not leave off drugs. I did not hide this from the missionaries, and I think their caring attitude was very important in my conversion process. In talking with them about faith, I came to understand that many things truly depend upon our earnestly seeking help. Drug use nearly destroyed my life, and only with Heavenly Father’s help was I able to break free of the addiction.
I suffered greatly and wish I had never started using drugs. In drugs, I had sought an understanding of myself. But drugs are a deadly counterfeit of the real warmth, peace, strength, and knowledge we gain through Heavenly Father’s answers to our prayers and the ministrations of His Spirit. My wife and I were baptized in 1991, and since then I have worked hard in the Church and in my employment. To this day, I pray often and with much faith, and I remain free of drugs.