From Addiction to Grace: Brett's Story


If you’ve been to Grace Oviedo, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Brett Sinnicki greeting worshipers or passing out the offering baskets. Brett always has a smile on his face. But few know his current pain -— or his troubled history.

“I struggled with addiction for a long time. Mostly with alcohol, but the alcohol would lead to drug use,” Brett says. The 48-year-old began drinking in the sixth grade, and was an alcoholic by his sophomore year of high school.

Brett grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey, just outside of New York City. He graduated from high school in 1988 and found entry-level work at a foreign-exchange bank in Manhattan. It was Wall Street in the late 1980s: Bon Jovi and The Boss blared out of boom boxes, the stock market made millions for many, and drugs flowed freely on street corners and in corporate conference rooms alike.

“My supervisor introduced me to cocaine,” Brett recalls. Eventually, he began going to work mostly for the after-work parties. “I was in some very dark places. I hated the addiction, but I didn’t want to give up the lifestyle.”

Despite his demons, Brett met and married his wife, Jessie, in 1994. She soon realized the depths of Brett’s addiction. The two would go out with friends and Brett would drink heavily, only to stop for more beer on the way home. Jessie would refer to this as “the one-man party” after the party.

“I never knew when to stop,” Brett says. And as a result, he became depressed, and the only salve for that was another bottle.

In 1996, Brett’s stepson Javy was 6 and his daughter Arielle was born. At 27, he was working two jobs, making his work week too full for drinking more than a couple beers a day. But the weekends were different: a constant party from quitting time on Friday through Sunday night. Brett stayed in a binge-induced stupor the entire time.

Working diligently at two full-time jobs to support his family, Brett convinced himself he had earned the right to enjoy his weekends. Although the family appeared to have it together on the outside, Brett was falling apart. Year after year, Brett’s addiction progressively worsened.

In 2007, Brett was at his lowest, hiding stashes of liquor around the house and passing out drunk in his living room. He felt like he had no one to turn to for help. “I was at the end of my rope,” Brett states. “I believed in God, but I didn’t know Him at all.”

One Saturday night, Jessie drove the couple home after an evening of drinking with friends during which Brett had passed out, completely drunk, on his hosts’ kitchen floor. But Brett was still looking forward to more drinking, and asked Jessie to stop at a convenience store to pick up a six-pack of beer — but she uncharacteristically decline to do so. She had had enough.

Brett remembers little from the remainder of that evening. That Sunday morning, however, is forever seared into his memory.

“I woke up on the bedroom floor, and the burden of addiction was lifted.”

It was nothing short of miraculous.

At that moment, Brett no longer had any desire to drink. He knows that, somehow, his decades-long ordeal is finally, and completely, over. “It’s unexplainable, but I remember it as vividly as if it were yesterday.”

But Brett had no explanation for the sudden change, so he walked into a local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting looking for answers — something he had never done before. He walked out with even more questions, but noticed a church across the street and decided to see if he could find answers there the following Sunday.

The words coming out of the pastor’s mouth that next Sunday morning changed Brett’s life: You are no longer dead in sin, but rather alive in Christ, if you believe he has redeemed you. 

The words coming out of the pastor’s mouth that next Sunday morning changed Brett’s life: You are no longer dead in sin, but rather alive in Christ, if you believe he has redeemed you. 

Brett realized that he now belonged to Christ. “It started to make sense. The pastor talked about being born again in the Spirit and God working and living in you.” Brett began to see that what had happened to him the past Sunday was a work of Jesus. “That had to be it,” he realized. “How could I wake up a changed person with no desire to drink? I get chills every time I think about it.”

While Brett no longer struggles with addiction, that doesn’t mean his life is without challenges. In May 2010, he shattered his ankle in a work-related accident. He was unable to walk for two months and is permanently disabled because of the pain and lack of mobility.

A year after the accident, his son Matthew came into the world. Brett was hospitalized soon afterward due to Crohn’s Disease and could not see his unvaccinated newborn son, which was devastating. He again battled depression. “That week long stay was as dark as my days of addiction,” he says. “Thank the Lord for his Word and my Pastor who came everyday to pray with me. Without God’s Word and prayer who knows where that would have led me.”

Through his pain and struggle, Brett learned that following Christ is not about health, wealth, and everything going right, but about knowing more of Christ and becoming like Him in the process. “Believers who are not grounded in the gospel can easily be misled and fall away from the church when life falls apart,” Brett says. “The goal of the Christian life is not health and wealth — the One and only true blessing is Jesus Christ.”

At the AA meeting all those years ago, the facilitator told him “You have to change your life.”

“But I didn’t change my life,” Brett beams. “God did.”

This story, written by Grace volunteer Matt McDaniel, originally appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Grace Magazine. Download the issue here.