HJ/EDHerald Journal / Enterprise Dispatch, Jan. 23, 2006

New Beginnings counselor skeptical of meth recovery book

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

A counselor at Waverly’s New Beginnings treatment center, and recovered addict himself, doesn’t believe in James Frey’s memoir “A Million Little Pieces” – and worries the recent revelations will jeopardize the credibility of current meth addicts.

A recovering addict going through treatment at what’s believed to be Hazelden Treatment Center in Minnesota, Frey exaggerated an estimated 18 pages of the 430-page book, discovered by the Smoking Gun web site.

Although those 18 pages were believed to be unrelated to the actual treatment and recovery of Frey, many question the credibility about what happened in the facility and in his mind.

Scott Paul, the stabilization coordinator at New Beginnings Waverly and a recovering addict, began reading the book, but refused to finish it because of conflicting ideas of treatment, he stated.

“At New Beginnings, we don’t encourage the book because we believe the essence of recovery is God and 12-step meetings,” which Frey didn’t believe in, Paul explained.

Frey wrote about his addictions such as alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine and what his body and mind were like when he was going through withdrawals at the clinic.

Paul spoke of some of the symptoms an addict will have who’s going through withdrawal from meth, including irritability, depression, excessive sweating, hallucinations, “using dreams,” anxiety and physical violence. Frey reported to haveing most of these symptoms in the book.

“Alcohol is one of the only drugs an addict can die from going through withdrawals. With the other drugs you just feel like you’re going to die,” Paul explained.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol include vomiting, sweating, insomnia, delirium tremors, shaking and extreme irritability, Paul stated. These were also some of Frey’s symptoms. In the book, he wrote about vomiting seven times in a day.

Paul stated there are drugs used to help with the withdrawal symptoms such as Neurotin.

Scott’s story of addiction

Paul can relate to many of the patients he works with. He is a recovering addict and a New Beginnings Alumni.

He was in “active addiction” for 18 years beginning with alcohol at the age of 13 after watching his mother pass away from cancer.

With a father that left him at a young age and an abusive stepfather, Paul had no one else to turn to.

After 12 years of continual meth use, Paul found himself homeless in Arizona, 60 pounds lighter, and his teeth destroyed.

He moved to Chaska and that’s when his life changed.

Paul enjoyed smoking meth on his own. He would drive around the countryside by himself and get high.

One day, he set out to use until he died. Paul pulled along side of a road, got out a “foily,” and looked around to make sure he was alone. He looked in his rearview mirror and he saw what he believes, were the “eyes of God.” He felt an “indescribable feeling of hope,” he said.

He went to Sibley Social Services and got the Rule 25 insurance.

With a month and a half waiting list for New Beginnings, he was admitted a week later.

“God has given me so many gifts. I’m debt free, I have a spiritual job working with other recovering addicts, I’ve never been happier,” Paul explained.

Paul completed treatment March 30 2003. “I believe strongly in God and 12 steps,” he said.

Paul now lives in Cokato and continues to work in the Clearing House, a two to four week stabilization program for primarily meth users.

He was interviewed on NBC’s Nightly News Jan. 18 for a story regarding how emergency rooms handle meth patients.

This program helps the user “clear their mind” before entering treatment by exercising the thinking process, a chemical history, managing withdrawals, normalizing sleep patterns, physical and nutritional guidance, yoga meditation, and a spiritual autobiography for the user to see the patterns in their past.

“So far this program has been successful but, it’s not going to work for everyone,” Paul said.

Insurance is available for addicts wanting to admit to treatment. Insurances such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medica, and United Behavioral Health cover treatment for those under these plans. For those without insurance, the county will pay with Rule 25 Insurance.

For anyone interested in learning more about the facility, check out its web site, www.newbeginningsatwaverly.com or contact Scott Paul at (320) 583-0216 or (763) 658-5800.

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