After leading a life of drug dealing and addiction for 26 years, the founder of Australia’s strictest rehabilitation centre and advocate for social change, Peter Lyndon-James is sharing his advice and knowledge to vulnerable families in Albury Wodonga.
His ‘Tough Love’ seminar is designed to help anyone who knows someone caught up in addiction, but has no idea how to help.
Border Cafe spoke to him ahead of his seminar on Saturday 3 August.
Peter, what is the purpose of your seminar next month?
I specialise in showing how a person can change their life. I show families how to bring a person to the point of making a decision they want, because no-one can change a person unless they want change themselves.
I’ll also equip families with knowledge about what they need to do, because many of the things they’re doing are actually enabling and making the problem worse. They’re hurting their children, but can’t see it, especially with methamphetamines, it’s the most evil drug because of the chemicals and the damage it does to the brain.
Many people know someone caught up in addiction, how important is it for them to understand how to help?
No matter what drugs they’re on, cannabis, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine or even prescription medication or alcohol I’ll share the warning signs. I class addiction in five categories, A to E. It often starts with smoking their first cone, they’ll maybe try again a week later, thinking ‘it’s okay, I didn’t hurt anyone’, it then becomes a pattern every weekend.
C is when someone has just accepted drugs as a regular part of their life and convinces themselves they’re not hurting anyone. By the time they reach C or D, no matter what you say they’re not going to listen. They attack and defend, and a dirty big black cloud comes with them in the house and the whole family is affected.
I completely equip a family to deal with any person with life controlling issues, especially addiction. We only take people with E categories into our rehabilitation centre Shalom House.
Your methods or advice is described as controversial at times – but it seems like it gets results, your thoughts?
My method at Shalom House is I don’t accept people using cannabis on or off my property. I don’t accept people living in my house sticking needles, they’re not welcome. We have a lot of discipline, is that controversial?
I think normal people in society work 9:00am to 5:00pm, not living off Centrelink. So what I do with men who come into my facility is turn them into normal people. We get them out of bed at 6:30am, they’re not using drugs or alcohol or other substances. We have a lot of discipline, it’s my home, we don’t lie and we treat people properly. We want people determined to do whatever it takes, and we’re restoring the lives of men.
Would you say Australia is suffering its worst drug epidemic in its history?
People are smoking methamphetamine today like they were cannabis 25 years ago. It’s an evil drug and wipes out four generations. It separates mums and dads, brothers and sisters, grandparents. It’s the most destructive drug I’ve ever seen in my experience. It’s worse than heroin, worse than anything and it’s right around Australia, filling our prison systems, putting pressure on our hospitals.
It’s an evil drug and a lot of people are putting their head in the sand. A young one tells his parents he’s smoking pot. He’s not smoking pot! He’s on methamphetamine. The lies and deceit are everywhere when you’re dealing with a person on meth. I used to sell two and half kilos of that drug.
I found a way out. I don’t run Shalom House for money, I do it because I care. Methamphetamine changes you, destroys you and fries your brain and the mental health system is at crisis point.
What’s the one key message or advice you hope people will take away from the seminar?
There’s a saying, if you love them you’ve gotta discipline them. They call it tough love. There’ll be very challenging conversations, not just for the person caught up in addiction, but any person who deals with anyone caught up with an addiction or life controlling issue.
What: Tough Love seminar by Peter Lyndon-James (Free admission) Supported by SS&A and AlburyCity
When: Saturday 3 August, 1:00pm.
Where: City Central Church, David Street Albury
RSVP: email: [email protected]