Like many kids growing up, Jon Sundt was told that drugs could take you to new and wonderful places. Sundt experimented with drugs, but his two brothers became addicted and their addiction eventually cost them their lives. He started the Sundt Memorial Foundation to help influence the hearts and minds of kids by inspiring them to live their natural high and to reject drugs. We interviewed Sundt in 2009 and talked with him how drugs changed his life and why he is passionate about helping others.
Sundt reflects on how drugs changed his life and his family.
“When I was in junior high in the ‘70’s, there was a message similar to today, that if you wanted to be cool you had to do drugs. We were lookin’ up to Led Zeppelin, the Who, the Doors, and a lot of those people ended up dying. Like many young kids, I experimented before I was enlightened. I saw what was happening to my brothers through drugs. I was seventeen or eighteen and I decided that I didn’t want any part of that culture anymore. I took a left-hand turn and my brothers took a right-hand turn. My brother Steven was a full-blown addict in high school. It started with pot and ended with cocaine. He ended up dying in the back seat of a cop car on a stormy evening in Northern California. He was fighting for his life when he pulled over looking for help, because his heart was stopping. The cops called and they took him away and he died in a jail cell. I remember getting that call at two in the morning, like it was yesterday. They said, ‘Are you Jon Sundt?’ I said yeah. They said, ‘Are you related to Steven Sundt?’ I said, ‘Yeah, he’s my brother.’ The guy on the phone said, ‘He just died in our jail.’ I fell on my knees and cried out to God. From his first toke of marijuana to using cocaine was a seven-year journey that ended in death for Steve. My other brother, Eric, had been getting deeply involved in drugs and he had committed a crime. Instead of being sentenced to prison, he got sentenced to Patton State Mental Hospital for robbing a McDonald’s with a pellet gun. His hand was shaking so badly that the guy behind the counter said, ‘That’s not a real gun.’ My brother ran out and was arrested. He had been under doctor’s treatment for bipolar disorder. Thinking that the mental health system would be better than prison, we pleaded insanity. When you go to those hospitals there’s no determinate sentence. They interview you every six months and ask how you’re doing. And every six months Eric was doing a lot worse, because those places are hell on earth. He ended up being there eight years, for petty robbery. After I buried Steve, I had to drive up and tell Eric that his brother had just died. That was a bad day. A few years later, Eric got out and took his life. I feel very strongly that if Eric had never gone down the drug path, a lot of that stuff wouldn’t have haunted him.
“The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:11-12
Sundt shares why he is passionate about helping others.
“When I speak at schools, it’s so cool to see a kid focused on something that’s giving them a natural high. You know right away when they’re involved in something good. They’re in a group involved with something and they don’t need it or want it [drugs]. As opposed to the kid who is kind of bored, maybe not very self-confident, trying to prove something to themselves, and they’re going out blowing their brains out. Nearly every time I’ve spoken to a school here in San Diego, afterwards a kid’s come up to me in tears. They have a story to tell, and it’s so sad – my mom, my cousin, my older brother. They have a story that’s been told a thousand times, but to this person it’s a nightmare… Drugs are somewhat of a silent killer. It’s shameful when you’re a child when someone you know dies of drugs or alcohol. Maybe it’s not death, but it’s shameful when somebody goes into an addiction spiral. They lose their job; they lose their family. Or, if it’s a young kid, they lose their future…”
Find your natural high. Instead of getting high and escaping reality with drugs and alcohol, find activities that bring you joy and excitement. It could be an outdoor activity. It could be helping others. It could just be trying something new.
Get help. Whether you are addicted to drugs, alcohol, pornography or something else that is damaging, it is time to get help. There are people that love and care about you. Reach out to them and ask them to walk alongside you to get help. You might need to go to counseling or go to a program that can help hold you accountable to quitting. Trying to quit an addiction can be a difficult thing. It can help to have friends, family, or even a pastor that can check in on you and see how you are doing. It might mean not going to certain places or hanging out with certain people who are not supportive of you quitting. Remember that God loves you and has a plan for your life.
Help others say no. If you have a friend that struggles with drug addiction, help them find their natural high and activities that will encourage them from walking away from their addiction. If you have a story of God helping you break free from addiction be willing to share it with others. It might even be having a speaker like Jon Sundt come and speak to a group that you are a part of.
To read our entire interview with Jon Sundt, click here.