Preferred Name: Dean
Dean works part time in hospitality, is single and lives in a share house. He describes his ethnic background as ‘Australian’: he was born in Australia, as were his parents.
Dean began taking ice and GHB in his early twenties with sexual partners. He continued to take both regularly and after about two years he began to think he might have an ‘addiction’ to ice. In his early thirties, his family became aware of his drug use and suggested he go into a residential rehabilitation program. Over the next year, he completed several residential rehabilitation programs and attended Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) meetings, which helped him to reduce his drug use. Dean has since increased his consumption and now takes ice ‘close to daily’ and GHB around once a week. He plans to reduce his consumption in the future.
After about two years of regular ice use, Dean began to feel that he was experiencing an ‘addiction’ to it. While he found that taking ice ‘obliterated’ feelings of concern about problems he was experiencing, when the drug started ‘to wear off’ he says his sense of these problems magnified ‘tenfold’. However, he still found ice ‘appealing’ and continued to take it and GHB regularly for the next few years.
In his early thirties, he says things ‘came to a head’ when his family became aware of his drug use and suggested he go into a residential rehabilitation program. Once his drug use was ‘out in the open’ he says he felt more comfortable to ‘talk about it quite freely’ with his family. Over the next year, he completed several residential rehabilitation programs. The first one was based on a twelve-step model and the later programs drew on cognitive behavioural therapy approaches. Dean felt that the latter better addressed what he describes as the ‘emotional stuff behind’ his drug use. Each program, he says, was ‘a very positive experience’, and he found the staff caring. He also began attending Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) meetings. For Dean, the meetings offered ‘a great sense of support’, which he says he ‘really needed at the time’, particularly between rehabilitation programs.
While the programs and meetings helped him to reduce his use, he says he’s been getting ‘more into it again’. He now takes ice ‘close to daily’ and GHB once or twice a week, mostly in sexual situations. He manages his consumption by going to CMA meetings and ‘making sure’ that he’s ‘living a life that [he]’s happy living’, ‘in line with [his] values’. Because he works part time, he limits his consumption to the weekend when he has ‘time to [him]self’, making sure that he allows a few days break between taking ice and going to work. Ultimately, he thinks it might be best for him to stop altogether because he feels it’s become a financial and emotional ‘drain on the life that [he] would like to have’. He says he’s now focused on maintaining his health and having a good relationship with his family.
Dean (M, 35, works in hospitality, ice) says he’s been refused service at chemists when trying to access sterile injecting equipment. (Played by an actor)
Getting needles when you need them is a hard deal. Like, there’s a couple of machines around the inner city. There’s nothing out in the [suburbs…] Even going to chemists and asking them, they are like ‘No, no […] we don’t have them’ […] I just sort of wanted to get out of there [after being told that] because I felt about this [small]. So yeah, I went to a few different ones. One big one that I knew stocked them around here and they said, ‘No’ as well, and I was just like, ‘Okay’. It was just a matter of coming back in to the city. But, I mean, I’ve never used somebody else’s needle and I wouldn’t want to. I’ve only ever reused my needle twice and even that I don’t like. I don’t like doing it. So to find it so difficult to actually get clean needles is a bit of a worry.
Dean says that if colleagues noticed marks along his arms from injecting ice, they would think he has a ‘problem’. (Played by an actor)
There’s a culture of drinking […] that goes on in the workforce. It’s just accepted […In] hospitality it’s almost encouraged. But yeah, I think everywhere has a […] lot more of a sort of relaxed feel when it comes to alcohol. But when you go to work with track marks, you don’t even necessarily have to be using at work, or under the influence at work, you would have had a day’s break before you go back, there’s just this thing that you’ve got a problem […] Most of the time [I wear long sleeves at work].
After Dean’s family became aware of his ice consumption, he was able to talk ‘freely and openly’ with them. (Played by an actor)
It all sort of came to a head when […] I went to rehab. So it all came out with my family and everything was all out in the open, which was probably one of the best things that did happen, because it slowed me down a lot. I can talk about it quite freely and openly with my family, which is good […] Mum sort of just […] said ‘Look, there’s nothing I can do for you unless you want to help yourself’, which is hard. It’s very hard but at the same time, she wouldn’t have had the strength to do that had she not gone to this workshop for people who have family members who have drug issues, which my rehab put her onto. So I’m thankful for that.
Dean took part in CBT at a residential treatment facility and says it helped him address the ‘emotional stuff’ linked to his consumption. (Played by an actor)
I found the experience [of CBT] very good and I think that’s the way to go for me, the more CBT route [rather] than 12-step […It’s] not necessarily better for everyone but for me […] there’s a lot more emotional stuff behind why I started taking drugs. And when I went [to the rehab that offered CBT as part of its program…] I had recently been diagnosed HIV-positive. And […] I knew where I needed to be […] So my psychologist […] was one of the first people I contacted and I said, ‘Look […] get me back in [to that rehab]’.
Dean says the healthcare professionals who have treated him have been caring and helpful. (Played by an actor)
[My advice to people starting treatment is that] you’ve got to do it for the right reasons. You’ve got to do it because you want to. Don’t do it for anybody else. It’s a long process. It’s not just as simple as [making a] phone call [and saying], ‘Hey I want some help, I want to get into treatment’. It’s not that easy. It’s quite a long, drawn out process. It’s not what you think it’s going to be. I was expecting it to be on a farm. I even went out, and bought flannelette shirts and Ugg boots [laughs]. I was expecting, you know, not so much padded walls, but to be under constant supervision and to be constantly watched, and [to be saying] ‘yes sir, yes sir’. It wasn’t anything like that. It was people who wanted to help, who were there because they cared and nothing more […] Every time I’ve been into treatment, it has been a very positive experience.