Beyond Crystal, Free Yourself From Crystal Meth Forever

 

Beyond Crystal, Free Yourself From Crystal Forever

DL Scott CtHA / AASD / CDC

Nine years ago I was approached by a woman, Susan Kingston, to become the Methamphetamine Specialist for a King County Funded Project called Project NEON. Project NEON is a harm reduction program that initially addressed safer use among Gay and Bi-sexual men who inject Crystal Methamphetamine.

Susan was looking for a way to blend more traditional chemical dependency skills and tools with more alternative and newer methods of harm reduction and prevention philosophies. Since many Certified Chemical Dependency Counselors were not, at theat time, trained in both traditional and harm reduction philosophies, she felt that my unique blend of these two philosophies would be perfect for the needs of the program.

After a couple of months of deliberation, I accepted the job offer and was literally thrown into the deep end of the pool with out a life jacket.

What I discovered over the next 9 years is a way of looking at the relationship between, not only Crystal Meth, and Crystal Meth users, but specifically the Gay Community and Crystal Methamphetamine.

The first thing I learned was that this program was originally designed as a harm reduction program to address the fact 51% of all Gay and Bi-sexual men who injected Meth were also HIV+.

The initial belief was that this high infection rate was due to unclean injection practices. As more data was gathered, the new theory is that the high infection rate is more likely due to unsafe sex practices while on Meth. What I learned from my clients was that Meth = Sex, and Sex while on Meth was usually practiced in a very unsafe manner.

On any given day, clients would come into my office with the report that they had either been continuing to use Meth, or they had experienced a relapse of use on Meth. “So what did you do while you were high?” I would ask.

“I got together with a couple of guys and we PnP,d.”

For the uninitiated, PnP, is code on the internet, and now in the community for Party and Play, i.e., let’s hook up and have sex with Crystal.

“Were you safe?” I would always ask, learning quickly what the response would be.

“No of course not, I was high on Meth.”

What the clients were telling me was that even thinking about being safe while high on Meth, is a difficult task, and actually safe is a harder task.

What I was also learning was that many of the clients who came through the door of Project NEON, originally housed at Stonewall Recovery Services, were not interested in learning how to use Meth safely, they desperately wanted the stuff out of their lives, but were finding no relief through traditional Chemical Dependency Programs. Although Project NEON was funded for Gay and Bi-sexual Men, I was seeing people of all sexual orientations come through my doors, seeking help with a problem that just was not being served by traditional methods. The of these cases that I was able to address was being limited by the funding parameters, but while the focus remained on the Gay Community, the need was seen for these specialized services in all communities.

Just like with most members of the GBLTQ community, (the demands by many 12 step type programs, to accept God, was just not something that these guys wanted to do or could do, nor was the idea of complete and total immediate abstinence one that proved popular).

As a community the Gay and Bi – sexual client had grown up in a society where they / we are told that we are sinners, perverts, and subhuman, that because of our attraction to our own gender, we are doomed by God to go to hell for all eternity. This constant message does not make acceptance of God, an easy or desirous objective.

Another problem within the more traditional modes of treatment existed within the idea that during the first few months, upwards to a year, you should not have sex. Since Meth is so closely tied in with sex in the gay community, (and in other communities as well), and one of the biggest reason for relapse back to Meth use is sexual urges, this second demand was also not something that these guys wanted to do or could do.

I was beginning to wonder why Ms. Kingston had ever asked me to take on this position, or more correctly why I ever thought I could be effective in this position. I was going to have to design a recovery program that addressed both the lack of 12 step support, and the fact that sexual activity was something that could not just be dismissed with the “no sex during your early recovery” rule.

Over the next nine years I was able to design a program that allowed roughly a 50 to 55% success rate in helping Meth addicts to either drastically cut down, (going from daily use to once every 6 to 8 months), or completely quit their use Of Crystal Methamphetamine, commonly called Meth.

My first step was to take the Crystal Meth Recovery Group, offered by Project NEON, and look at what was working and what was not.

During those first couple of years I struggled with the fact that the group was a three month closed group. Unlike most treatment groups which are open and people are able to begin and end their participation at various times, a close group meant that everyone began and ended their participation on the same date.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to this type of group, the biggest disadvantage being that the group usually started with about 12 to 15 people, and ended with about 3 to 5 people still attending.

What was it about the message that was not keeping the guys engaged? The group was based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, sound, researched techniques that should have facilitated a higher retention rate, and a greater success rate, but something was not connecting.

As any good Chemical Dependency Counselor, and / or 12 step support group member can tell you, a person usually has to come to some kind of consciousness or spiritual awakening to help them change their thinking and thus change their lives. Now I am not talking about a religious conversion here, I am talking about spirituality. Spirituality is that deep inner connection to some unnamed force in the universe, whether that be called God, Energy, Consciousness, etc. It is not following some religious belief system that judges, condemns and chastises people for their own behavior or beliefs. I needed to find a way of introducing some form of spirituality into the community without tying it to any organized religion. Just how was I going to do that?

Enter Don Miguel Ruiz, and The Four Agreements. About seven or eight years ago, my partner and I went on a vacation which include a day and one half drive to get to our destination. To help pass the time I bought several books on tape. We ended up listening to one of those tapes over and over and over again. That tape was The Four Agreements.

The Four Agreements talk about how each and every one of us is domesticated into our own internalized belief system from the moment we are first born, much like we domestic our pet dog or cat. We are taught the meaning of words, bottle, Mom, Dad, Church, book, etc., and when our attention is hooked we are quickly taught what is right and what is wrong. We are taught how a good boy acts, or a good girl acts, (we are taught that to be normal is to be attracted to the opposite gender). All of these beliefs and ideas are agreed on by each and every one of us, and they become the agreements that run our lives.

The book gives four agreements to help you look at and get rid of those agreements that make no sense. 1) Be impeccable with your word. 2) Never take anything personal. 3) Never make assumptions. 4) Always do your best.

Since this article is not an article about the four agreements, and I don’t plan on delving into a lengthy explanation of this system, I will just say that The Four Agreements have become a major influence in my life, and popular in the Crystal Meth Recovery community, I would strongly recommend that you pick up either the book or the CD of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

I started teaching this method to The Crystal Meth Recovery Group, along with several of the Cognitive Behavioral Techniques, and noticed that the members were starting to apply these ideas into their own lives, and they were starting to spread this philosophy by word of mouth.

OK, so now we were starting to get somewhere. The next step was to address the issue of sexuality as it applied to Meth use in the Gay community. Hmm-m-m-m how could I reach my audience?

As I mentioned, Ms. Kingston had hired me because of my qualifications as a Chemical Dependency Counselor, but she also hired me because of my qualifications and skills as a Hypnotherapist.

Utilizing these skills I started teaching clients the basis of what is now becoming popular as Mindfulness. In essence I taught the client how to meditate, how to use meditation to observe their thoughts and feelings, and recognize that while our ability to think is what makes us a higher species of life on earth, we are not our thoughts or are feelings, we are something much beyond these things. In the process I was able to get the clients to start looking at their own individual spirituality by recognizing that they are, at their core, a consciousness, a soul, or spirit, what ever they chose to call it, but they are much more than just a body and a brain.

Once they started looking at this idea it was easier to get them to accept the fact that the thoughts of sex and of drug use, (cravings), were simply thoughts, and since these things were simply thoughts, then they had the choice either to respond to these thoughts by given in to them, or by rejecting them. We talked at some length about the fact that since they are physically addicted to Meth, it would be much harder to not give into these thoughts, but it was still there choice. (I would like to point out that whenever the recovery group had participants who were not members of the gay community, these some ideas and thoughts about mindfulness applied across the board).

The next step was to introduce them to a technique that I called Emotional Release Therapy. With individual therapy I offered hypnotic inductions to all of my NEON clients. During the session I would get the client to talk about what ever issue was upper most in their brains, and then during the hypnotic induction I would utilize a technique, called Emotional Release Therapy.

I was originally taught this technique while going through classes to receive certification as a Clinical Hypnotherapist. Over the years I have refined this original method and developed into what is now called Emotional Release Therapy. This technique allows the client to achieve deeper levels of altered brain wave patterns, known as Alpha Brain Wave Patterns, that allow each person to quickly and swiftly detach from emotions that are tied to what ever issue or memory that they were talking about during the first of the session. This technique does not change or wipe out in any way the memory that the emotion was attached to, it effectively disconnects the emotional reaction so that the client can look at that memory without the emotional trauma that usually leads to such things as drug use, or any other compulsive, addict, response.

While the client is now able to address such issues as internalized homophobia, which has greatly contributed to their Crystal Meth addiction, with new tools such as the Four Agreements, and Hypnotic Inductions, and their own daily meditations, they are able to start practicing intimacy in their lives.

One of the Agreements that most homosexuals, and many heterosexuals, are raised to believe is that our lives are defined by our sexuality.

In our case we are lead to believe that we are intrinsically different than our heterosexual counterparts simply because we are attracted to our own gender. This belief system causes many young homosexuals to gravitate towards the gay community during our coming out process. As we come out and enter more fully into the gay community we find both advantages and disadvantages. While it is true that we find a sense of community, a sense of belonging within the gay community, protection and safety from narrow minded and bigoted people, it is also true that members of the gay community are more prone to issues of alcoholism / chemical dependency, sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, high rates of depression, and other mental health issues.

As a gay man I can testify to the idea that most members of the gay community believe that we are different in someway from our straight counterparts. We allow that belief to keep us separate and isolated. I am not excusing the fact that there are many straight community members who have committed atrocious acts of hatred and violence against the gay community, (witness the recent passage of Prop 8 in California, a religious fueled political action that has taking away rights and deemed us as second class citizens). What I am saying is that due to our own agreements about our worth, and self value, we often times have deep seated issues that manifests in a variety of ways, eventually resulting in what is termed internalized homophobia. This internalized homophobia is often times dealt with by members of the community by using drugs and other compulsive / addictive behaviors to either suppress, or avoid these feelings altogether.

Many in the community have not been able to express true intimacy without it being infected with the belief that sex must accompany the intimacy. When it comes to most Crystal Meth addicts, sex has become a paramount activity while high. As recovering addicts learn new skills and techniques, such as The Four Agreements, Emotional Release Therapy, and Mindfulness Meditation, they discover that they want to engage in intimacy, (which due to life long agreements about their own homosexuality, translate into sex). Now the addict must go back and learn that not all intimacy has to be associated with the sexual act.

In traditional therapy, these confusions regarding intimacy don’t always come up in the same way, and so sex is simply looked at as something that should not be engaged in.

My idea, and clinical requirement, was and still is that the recovering addict, gay or straight, get out there and start exploring what it means to means to be intimate. This may involve acts of sex at first, it may not, but it must be made clear to the recovering addict that it is perfectly acceptable to explore these activities without the use of the drug.

By following these clinical guidelines, and techniques I have seen clients who have been able to stop more than just their Crystal Meth use, they have been able to increase self worth, and self esteem, they have been able to eliminate the debilitating anxieties and fears connected to traumatic memories. By clearing up these old beliefs and old agreements that have found the ability to move ahead in life, eliminating the major stumbling blocks of addictive and compulsive behaviors, and finding ways of eliminating their brand of internalized homophobia.

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D.L.Scott is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Nationally Certified as a Pain Management Consultant. He has an Associates of Applied Science degree in the Social and Human Services, and received his license as an Chemical Dependency Professional He has helped stop addictive behavior with a variety of substances, including cigarettes, and Crystal Meth. You can view more about DL at dlscottpersonalenergymastery.com

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