My experience of methamphetamine dependence and recovery - by Bill (25/03/14)

This is the text of Bill's presentation at our recent Innovation Seminar.  Bill gives a great account of the impacts of his methamphetamine dependence on his physical and mental health, the pressure on his family and the difficulties facing those seeking treatment within established AOD service models.  Experiences like his are one of the key drivers for the changes we've been making to our approach to methamphetamine withdrawal.  Video of the seminar (including Bill's presentation) is available on our YouTube channel.  Photos from the event are on our Facebook page.

Hello and welcome everyone, my name is Bill Parasidis, I would like to thank ReGen for the opportunity to give this presentation, also to noted speakers and presenters who have given their time and knowledge for the topic that has and is, making a massive impact on our community, our children, fathers, mothers, our friends, and our loved ones: Methamphetamine use and dependency.
I am a recovering crystal meth addict on a 1 Gram a day habit, for the last 9 years.  I was in the banking and finance sector, I was a loving father, and loving son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, I emphasize on the word WAS...

Hello and welcome everyone, my name is Bill Parasidis, I would like to thank ReGen for the opportunity to give this presentation, also to noted speakers and presenters who have given their time and knowledge for the topic that has and is, making a massive impact on our community, our children, fathers, mothers, our friends, and our loved ones: Methamphetamine use and dependency.
I am a recovering crystal meth addict on a 1 Gram a day habit, for the last 9 years.  I was in the banking and finance sector, I was a loving father, and loving son, a brother, an uncle, a friend, I emphasize on the word WAS.  I became estranged from them all and am now working on reconnecting with every one of those that I have lost, lied too, cheated, hurt, betrayed and heartbroken.
 The laws I have broken, the negative impact I have had   on the community, with preying on the weak, the vulnerable, the sick, selling them ICE, to feed my own demon, exploited, manipulated, took advantage of to fuel my desires, to have power and control of those less fortunate then myself, my addiction became my world, it consumed my life to a point of a pin prick.  It only consisted of fellow meth addicts, every environment I walked into, my existence was solely dedicated to my addiction, who I once was, what I once wanted? Everything I had achieved, anyone I loved, became obsolete, vanished into THIN AIR, just like the clouds I was blowing out of my glass pipe, that is MY TRUTH, MY REALITY.
After many years of crystal meth abuse, I had left myself Broke, Alone & Homeless, living on the streets, finding shelter where I could, eating left over’s from food courts and rubbish bins.  Alone and scared, hungry, too proud to ask for help, too ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated to allow people who once knew me to see what my Crystal Meth Addiction drove me too.  I just wanted to lose myself  in my glass pipe with my cloudy cloudy dreams, numb my pain, Blind myself to only seeing WHITE, consuming and swallowing up any other.  Blocking out any noises or sounds, becoming one with WHITE, white has become my nothingness; I felt I was no longer here, there or anywhere.  I had become a inanimate object, I no longer felt emotions, I no longer wanted anything, anyone, except Crystal Meth, my addiction had almost led to my extinction. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason or moment that gave me purpose to once again LIVE, however soon after that moment, everything and everyone that I once loved, wanted and who  once was came flooding back in fragmented images, and that was the moment I decided to walk into ReGen’s front door.
 When I walked through those daunting front doors, full of fear, hate, remorse, and oblivious to logic and reality,  I  was lacking the ability to function in an everyday manner, everyday community. 
Thank you ReGen for helping me find the ability to think, process, strategise, practise, work, implement, create, feel, understand, accept, In essence the ability to function and live once again.
The road to recovery is as treacherous as it is Tedious !!
Tedious due to the amount of work, commitment, practice that is required until it becomes muscle memory.
Treacherous because as we know with HARD work, it becomes boring, tiresome and mundane, we may wish we may wish to break that cycle and we go and have some fun, which may lead us to our old habits, dangerous roads and environments. 
I can confidently say without a doubt that the road to recovery is about developing new habits and not going back to old ones.  
Upon my arrival to ReGen in April 2013 I had a few hundred dollars in cash and 7 grams of crystal meth on my person, which I scored and was hustling the day before I believed I was under police surveillance and I was seeking refuge from them, I hadn’t had a moments peace in weeks, ducking and diving, staying ahead of the police and fellow addicts who wanted to steal my drugs. I was physically and mentally exhausted fearing for my life, I was overwhelmed, I needed a safe haven, a place for rest and sleep.  The staff at ReGen showed me concern, they offered for me to stay as long as I wanted, I walked in at 9am and left at 5pm, I managed to find peace and sleep for the 1st time in weeks  Lorella, a ReGen counsellor kept checking up on me during the day and became my counsellor.  Thankyou Lorella, for your support and belief in me,  later on during my recovery I came to understand that I was experiencing an Ice Induced Psychosis on my arrival, I will also mention shortly about my withdrawal Psychosis, I immediately began drug counselling at ReGen and a month later I entered the detox centre Curran Place. 
Prior to my entry I underwent a GP Medical and Psychiatric assessment which gave me the all clean to begin.  I had made a conscious decision to stop using Meth 14 days prior to my admittance into Curran Place knowing full well that I had only 7 days in there.  7 days isn’t enough, I started to detox on day 1 & 2, anxiety, thoughts of my next take, days 3 -6 sleeping, curled up in foetal position rocking back and fourth. I wouldn’t have participated in any of the activities and groups if I hadn’t detoxed two weeks prior, thus negative the purpose of Curran Place, which gave me the opportunity to reconnect with a community, develop basic hygiene skills, cook, observe, physical exercise, things I had neglected in recent years.  There were Yoga classes, swimming, group talks, and one particular class which I valued more than anything else I learnt in Curran Place was Mindful Smoking.  Instead of smoking a cigarette in 3 min, I practised, smelling it, tasting it, watching it, and enjoying it, I learnt to remove myself from other smokers not wanting their conversations to distract me, observe my surrounding and my environment, which now took me 10 min to smoke my cigarette.  I practised that every day twice a day.  It became my foundation for re discovering cognitive thinking, developing and strategising my thought processes.  It gave me the ability to understand developing new habits and not going back to old ones. 
I was fortunate I had detoxed for 14 days prior to my admittance, I can’t tell anyone how much time is required for Crystal Meth detox, due to our own unique addiction.  Between anxiety, withdrawals, pains, sweats, psychosis, 7-14 days is not near enough.  On completion of my 7 days at Curran Place I continued my sessions at ReGen with Lorella, followed by Jesse, till September 2013, great commitment from ReGen who went above and beyond their call of duty towards my recovery. 
I also participated in a 6 week group module [ReGen’s Keeping Going program], which further gave me a better understanding of my addiction.  I was part of something bigger then myself. I experience withdrawl psychosis during my recovery which began during my time at Curran Place, til Mid August, I experienced massive conflict trying to distinguish reality from psychosis, for example, I believed that Curran Place was an ASIO recruitment centre and I was being groomed as a secret spy, I would roll from side to side on my bed when the flashing lights of the smoke detector changed colour, I would crouch in the dark when I heard or saw an approaching vehicle, whilst staying at my partners home, with her two great kids, the three of them are innocent, and ignorant on drugs and drug addiction, yet their support was priceless, I was practising death blows and covert surveillance techniques, I thought the family dogs tail was a listening device, the embarrassment I caused them with my behaviour when we were in public. 
I had kept all of this to myself the entire time for fear of being labelled crazy and getting locked up in the psychiatric ward.  I was so alone and scared, I thought I was losing my mind.  I was fortunate to win that tightrope battle, and so where those around me, who gave me love and support.   I remain string enough, dedicated, committed and motivated to beat that psychosis.  To those less fortunate than myself who do succumb to their psychosis, I feel sadness for them. 
I noticed a lack of presence of the mental care services, which I found very ironic, considering the documented effects of Meth use in our community, such a researched topic and a profound effect on our children, the availability of theory services was NON existent.  If their services were valuable, I wouldn’t have edoured so much fear, loneliness and conflict.  The constant arguments I was having in my won head, such a fine line between sanity and insanity. 
I finally did have a psychiatric assessment in October, sadly to late, thank goodness for me and my support network.  The same can be said for the lack of support services availability to the loved ones supporting meth recovery addicts.  Those loved ones supporting crystal meth rec-very usually have preconceived ideas about drug addictions, whose ignorance and judgements often are frustrating and destructive for all those involved in the recovery process.  Their lack of understanding often outweighs their support for their loved ones recovery. 
I was fortunate to have my support network.  Such support services will have a positive impact in our community, families, friends, with more understanding of our disease and more sympathy with fewer judgements, we all know with great exposure from support services, mental health care, governments, they will make a far greater,  positive impact in the media.  We are firm believers in prevention and the best possible strategy to prevent prevention is education and treatment.  Educate our children from primary to Secondary, on the dangers of drug abuse and addiction.  Drugs have no boundaries, borders, prejudices, biases, race or religious vilifications, treatment as we know it requires more research, funding, and facilities, lets not allow a recovering addict become an addict, as easily as it is occurring, lets devote more funding to education and treatment, which is the best way to combat the war on Drugs, minimize demand thus minimize supply, rather than the countless of hundred of millions spent by our governments chasing MR BIGS we all know drugs will always be there, only as long as there is a demand for them. Now that is how we cut off the snake’s head people. 
Thanks