This column recently discussed a new research project (Steps Through Amphetamines) that hoped to help crystal users who were experiencing symptoms of depression. A number of SSO readers contacted the research team and I thought it might be useful for people to read about one participant’s experiences with the program.

When I first started using crystal it felt good. I felt in control: I could have it or not have it when I wanted. I’m not sure exactly when this changed but after a while I realised I no longer had control of my use and I was reliant on crystal to get going. Using was impacting on my ability to work, and affecting my relationships. My sleep was all over the place and my mood was low. At the worst point I felt like I was in a black hole. I couldn’t get out of bed and I couldn’t cope with the things that were happening in my life.

I read about the Steps program and decided to call. I spoke to one of the psychologists about the problems I was having and the things I wanted to change. Participating in the program has involved exploring my current problems, the relationship between my mood and crystal use, and strategies for coping and making changes. It has given me a sense of hope that I can change the things I want to and made me aware there are strategies that can help me cope with the difficulties I’ve been having. I’ve realised that the decision to change has to come from me, but that the Steps program can provide valuable support.

Researchers on the project are currently looking for people who regularly use amphetamines, such as crystal, and are experiencing symptoms of depression.

Participation in the program involves an initial assessment followed by 13 sessions of cognitive behavioural therapy focusing on reducing amphetamine use and improving symptoms of depression. Participants will also be asked to complete a review session every five weeks to assess how well they feel the treatment is progressing, relative to their wants and needs. Sessions run for an hour a week and are with a psychologist.

If you would like to find out more about the project please phone Kate on 9385 0255 or Erin on 9385 0243.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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