• Print this page

Warcry: Addiction free

Shannon Watson tells his story to WarcryI grew up in Bundaberg, Qld. as a fourth generation Seventh Day Adventist (SDA). I attended the SDA church and primary school until grade five, when we left the church for various reasons. For me, it was effectively the last of any Christian activity for the next 20 years, although I always retained a firm belief in God. 

I joined the navy after finishing grade 12. I served in a variety of sea and shore postings across Australia for nearly eight years, before deciding to pursue my long-held goal of being an officer in the Australian Army.

In 2008, I successfully applied to attend the Royal Military College, Duntroon. During the final phase of the course I was granted a special request to transfer to the part-time Army Reserve. This unorthodox request resulted in almost immediate graduation, promotion to Lieutenant and discharge from full-time service. 

Leaving in this hasty manner meant that rather than having the usual 12 months to mentally prepare for discharge, I had only five weeks. It was a plunge from nearly a decade of full-time service into the relative freedoms of ‘Civvy Street’, with no real plans for the immediate future. My young family and I returned to Bundaberg totally unprepared for the cold shock of ‘reality’ that we were about to experience.

Separating from the military to me was like, ‘being a goldfish in a bowl getting tipped out into the ocean.’ My ill-prepared transition very quickly became a descent into the depths of depression, alcohol and drug abuse and even a foray into the police and court systems where I was convicted of a serious, ‘honesty’ related offence.    

The criminal conviction I received hit hard because it seriously affected any chance of gaining the meaningful employment that my military service should have set me up for. I floundered for nearly two years in a dark and stifling depression, drinking every day and pushing my personal relationships with loved ones to the brink. I had effectively given up on life and was without hope.  

In 2011, I began to take notice of the local Salvation Army building. Something inside me said that this wasn’t a passing interest and I became very curious about the Salvos. I would often walk past the building, looking in the windows and reading the posters. I eventually built up the courage to attend a Sunday meeting and was welcomed so warmly that I brought my family along the following week.

I started reading the Bible and praying for insight and understanding which I soon began receiving. Overcome by the extent of God’s love and forgiveness the depression began to lift. I made the decision to commit my life to him and trust him as my Lord and saviour.   

We moved to Tasmania the following year and once again were warmly welcomed at the local Salvo church. However, I was still drinking and it was really a major issue. I wanted to become a soldier (member) but I just couldn’t see how I could possibly stop drinking. I was addicted to alcohol and I felt that it was preventing me from receiving a fuller experience of God.

During one Sunday meeting in 2013 two of our close friends became members. After the ceremony our minister asked if there was anyone else who had it on their heart to commit to membership in the future. I was compelled to go to the front, and I did. The beers I’d had the night before were the last ones I would ever have. I sincerely believe that Jesus healed my alcohol addiction as I had been praying for a victory over it for months and have not had the slightest desire to drink since.

Shannon and his wife Tracy have committed their lives to serving Jesus through the mission of The Salvation Army. Shannon has recently been appointed to the Launceston Salvos children’s ministry team and commenced a diploma of chaplaincy this year.

Other stories from Warcry

To read other stories from past issues of WarCry, click here.