A Discussion About Addictions With Paul Stanyer

Welcome back to the Culture Maker Channel. It's great to have you here, whether you're watching on YouTube or listening on podcasts. Thanks for joining! Today I am interviewing, a guy by the name of Paul Stanyer. Paul is an incredible guy who runs an addiction recovery program called Recovery, and it's tremendously effective. As far as I understand the results are off the charts compared to other sorts of comparative programs around the country and New Zealand at least. And we hear about Paul's, personal story as well as the story of others in recovery, and the effectiveness of the recovery program. We talk about the spiritual aspect actually, and it's importance, and its role in the effectiveness of recovery. And so it is a spiritual conversation and if you're uncomfortable with that, then hey you might want to skip this episode. But otherwise, what I would say is the spiritual aspect is one that we don't often discuss and is, I believe going to be a conversation that we can all benefit from. So yeah, stick with us - I know you're going to enjoy this episode, so let's get into it.

Mate it's great to have you on the show. Thanks for having me Mike. Great to be here.

It's a pleasure Paul. Honestly, mate I've heard so much. I know so much of the good work that you do at the Recovery program. And, how about we just start there, tell us a little bit about, Recovery.

So we started three years ago and it started off with, six people sitting on a couch. God just laid it on my heart to get a group going. And we started off in the parents room at Curate Church. And then outgrew that space, moved to the office down on Tawa Street. And then we were in the kids auditorium for a while at Curate until we got our own space over at the Manaaki Center and we've currently just outgrown that as well. So we're shifting into the auditorium at the Manaaki Center now.

And so you have a program that people go through?


How long does the program take?

It takes 42 weeks.

We find though, with most of the people who go through the program, they don't wanna leave. They just want to keep coming back. We have had people there who have been there for the whole time. We have people who will, attend and do the program. Or they might fall away, but they always just seem to know where to come home to. Someone might disappear for a year and then they just show back up.

And, how do people hear about this?

A lot of it is word of mouth. We are also partnering with other service providers. So Salvation Army, AOD team. Also live for more charitable trust, hospital social work team and we've just been, asked to start collaborating with, Tauranga Family Harm as well. So mainly it's word of mouth - it's just spread.

And so that's a whole bunch of different agencies that are referring to you. So obviously you're having some real effect.

Yes. Yeah, we are seeing some great results. We've seen some really, really good results.

So what, do people come with, what are they going to Recovery for?

Man, a whole raft of problems. Just like myself. That's exactly what I used to have. Addiction is an external symptom of what's happening on the inside. So underneath that addiction there's just layers and layers and layers of stuff. So there's always a place of pain. Or a root as to where that addiction or the substance abuse, or no matter what addiction it is, is all flowing from that. And it's about finding healing in that place of pain. Just going down all through those layers. And it can just be like an onion as well. And just allowing people in that you trust, and also God. And just working through all of those layers and getting to the crux of the problem.

Yeah. So there'll be a bunch of guys listening to this that have some form of addiction to something. Let's talk about some, of the issues, so that there's no guys at home that are sitting there going, oh, you don't know me. Like, nobody's got my kind of addiction. What, kind of stuff are you dealing with?

Yeah. So addiction doesn't discriminate. And that's one thing we see through all tiers and layers of society. Like we have mums coming along, Dads, businessmen, people fresh out of jail, people looking at going to jail. It does not discriminate. So it can look so different for each individual person. Depending on the substance, or what they're addicted to. It can just look more unmanageable in people's lives. And have more of a devastating effect. So some people can hide it really well. Some people, because of what they're turning to, what they're addicted to or using to numb out - it's more concealable and harder to notice.

But obviously these people have got to the point where they thought something has to change.

To some varying degree or another.

Well, yeah. Are some of 'them just turn up because they've been told they have to.

We have some turning up there because maybe their, spouse or a family member has put the heat on them to come up. Some people are there because they've absolutely hit rock bottom. Some people might have a small seed inside of them planted like, yeah, I need to change. But that can just be a process within itself. Like we've seen people come along and it's taken them just a year to get clean.

So how do you, if you're a guy, you know, you're at home, or walking, or in your car, whatever it is, and you're listening to this and you think, yeah, how do I change? What is it about Recovery that's getting this great result? How are people changing? Can you point to some things?

Yeah, definitely. The only way in which we differ in what we are offering differently is Jesus is at the centre of it all. That is it. Take that away. And we'd just be the same as every other service provider. So we are just offering a different alternative, outlook, and solution for it in the community.

Yeah, that's really powerful. I think because, as a society we can so easily take out this spiritual part of life. And it blows my mind in such a Maori country and you know the Maori culture very much respects the spiritual aspect of life, but it seems that the Maori culture have also sort of walked away from that to a degree.

Yeah, definitely.

What are your thoughts on that?

Well, I think that's the way the world is turning. Especially in New Zealand, we're turning into a godless society. And I remember when I was even at school, which was a few years ago, religious education used to be a class in school. But it's just not taught anymore. And maybe that's where we're going wrong.

Yeah. Now I look at you and I look at what you're achieving in your life. And a lot of people can't see you unless they're looking at you on YouTube and you're a great looking guy and you've got a few tattoos, tell us a little bit about your story.

Okay mate. So I started using cannabis when I was 13 years old. And you'll find with addiction, it starts off manageable. And then it just progresses and it just becomes unmanageable. The reason why I started using cannabis was because, of mental health issues, extreme anxiety and just really, as far back as I can remember, and even being a child, I always felt out of place and I always felt different. And you'll find that it's just so, so common with people with addiction issues or struggle with substances. So it progressed from maybe just smoking on the weekends to everyday use. And the same thing with progression as well. It stops having the same effect, and that's why people tend to move to harder drugs.

So I basically did, I just went through the, alphabet of drugs, moved from cannabis to mushrooms and acid., taking ecstasy. Back in the day, meth wasn't around, so it just used to be speed. And then in 1999, I got introduced to meth. And it was just completely over. Same thing again, started just binging on the weekends. Before I knew it, it started creeping into a, Thursday, Friday, Saturday thing. Before I knew it, that was it. It was just every day. I just couldn't function without it.

And so what was the outcome of that? And how long did that go on for?

18 years. So I was using drugs in total for 23 years. And, Meth for, yeah. 18 years.

So before you answer that, answer my other question a different way. What, did your life end up looking like?

My life ended up looking like an absolute mess. Absolute mess. I weighed about 50 kgs at some points. Very disheveled. Just the trail of broken relationships. My family didn't want to know me. I can completely understand that. Spent time in jail. Done about seven residential treatment centres. Very messy life.

And obviously something changed for you.


So talk to us a little bit about that.

It was a slow progression once again. So I did my first residential treatment center in, 2004 when I had a baby on the way.

So you've got a kid.

Yes. Got, three children. Got a, 16 year old girl, seven year old boy, and a four year old boy, and also another baby on the way.

And so, how many of those are in the home with you?

The two boys. And my girl lives with her mum.

Okay. Cool man. Sorry keep going. So talk about that slow progression.

Yeah. Sorry, what was the question again?

Well, yeah, I was asking you about the change, what changed? And you started talking about the slow progression. And so, and it started about the time that you had your first child.

Yeah. So I got pressure put on me when, I knew that my ex-partner was pregnant. Basically got given the ultimatum. Get clean or you can't have anything to do with your daughter. I didn't want to get clean. I don't even know if I wanted anything to do with my daughter as well. I was, basically a grown man. But just felt like a little boy inside myself. And I was very fearful about being a father as well to a child. Just with all of my issues - that they were gonna turn out that way. So I went to rehab and there's something quite common that can happen when you go to rehab. And it's called a rehab romance. So you, put down the drugs. And then the next best thing is woman. And that's just cross addiction. So I ended up meeting a, woman who had just moved back from King's Cross in, Sydney. She came to get off heroin. And we got into a rehab romance. I ended up leaving with her and she taught me how to turn, morphine sulfate tablets into diamorphine, which is basically heroin. So I ended up with a, diamorphine habit as well. The same thing with addiction. It's like I started using because I was trying to mask the way I felt inside. That stopped working. When that stops working and like the drugs do stop working. Desperation starts kicking in. Yeah. So I started getting little glimmers inside of me, like, I really don't want this life. But there was so much fear. Just around changing or stepping out, and making those changes in my life. So it started back then when I first got introduced to, Narcotics Anonymous, through this, treatment program. And there was talk of a higher power and so forth, and there was always something there. I knew there was something greater than myself. Always knew there was something greater than myself.

And so at some point you've obviously met a creator. You've, had a, come to Jesus moment.

Yeah, definitely.

So tell us a little bit about that.

So it's, pretty crazy, aye? So fast forward a few years, I was in a really broken place. And I was running outta options. Another relationship had just ended. Depression started kicking in quite a lot. And I wanted out. I wanted out. I couldn't handle it anymore. One morning I shot up some meth cause I ended up with an intravenous habit. And something just snapped in me. And I took a big overdose. I ate about, 200 and something nortriptyline and about 60 codines. Long story short, ended up on life support in a coma. One of my co offenders who I used to you to, use a lot of meth with, and do quite a bit of crime with. He encountered Jesus six years before me, and he's one of the people that never, ever gave up, gave up on me. And I was in this coma and ended up having a conversation with my mum and he said, I'm gonna go away and I'm gonna pray about this. He came back to my mum and he said, the Lord's given me a word for him. And this word that he got from the Lord was that I would, be leading a ministry. I was gonna give my heart to Jesus. I was gonna be leading a ministry for people with addiction issues. And I was gonna be a pastor. And so I, came out of this coma and I said, right, that's it. I'm done. I'm doing no more. And I spoke to my mate and he told me this. And it just sounded that far fetched I just laughed. I was just like, what are you on? This is just ridiculous. So I ended up relapsing, went back up to Auckland, and over the space of two years I started bumping into people I used to use drugs with and they looked really, really good, looked healthy. They had their lives on track. And I said to them, what's happened? How did you do this? And these people I bumped into over the space of two years, each one of them said, we've accepted Jesus into our lives. And I was like, okay. On these occasions, these four occasions, they offered to pray for me. And ever since I was in that coma, I was just really, open. It was like something just shifted in me. And they prayed for me and I'd absolutely love it. Just be like, this is cool. So went on for a bit. Within that space, things were getting really, really messy. I was, on GBL quite a lot. So Takapuna Hospital were just sick of this side of me. I was getting put in the Psych ward quite a bit, just from, using far too much and I'd had a sleep and I was ready to get on another bender. And, I was actually walking back from the needle exchange on K Road, and I had an audible encounter with God. And everything just absolutely changed. 18 years of meth addiction got broken off me on the spot.

Wow. So you literally, you're saying that encounter you, lost your addiction.

Yep. Lost it.

That's amazing. And so whatever was said, or however you felt, it was powerful enough that it made you go,

I've got your attention. And I believe I experienced a healthy fear of the Lord, even though I wasn't quite sure what it was at that stage. And this caused me to repent. And to just turn away from that lifestyle I was leading. And even, that within itself was a slow progression. Like, I got brought up a Catholic. So I had this idea of there is a God. But through the, hurt that I experienced through the church. I was like, if this is God stuff, you, I don't wanna know anything of you. And ever since I had the audible encounter and a second encounter that day where I heard a, still small whispering voice telling me that it was the, last time I'd be using drugs. I just started praying every day. Just started praying every day to the point where, with using gbl you can have seizures when you come off. So I was doing a medical detox in ward 17, and every morning they used to have like a, Karakia and something was just drawing me back there every morning. And I'd finished there and I went back to back to my room. And I had this urge to get on my knees and I got on my knees and I just lifted my hands in the air and just said, whoever you are, I know you are real. I don't wanna live this life anymore. Just give me the strength to just walk out of this. I literally went outside for a cigarette and standing there was one of my really good mates who I hadn't seen for about 10 years, who I used to use a lot of drugs with. And she said, I'm three years clean. Let me help you stay clean. And then it was just a change from there. She took me back to Narcotics Anonymous.

Through the program again, I started exploring through working the steps. . I started getting a, greater understanding of who God was. Until I ended up at, Curate Church where I got invited by there by someone. And ended up giving my heart to Jesus.

Wow. Amazing man. That's, why I think this is really important to hear because and I know, for those listening, this has got really spiritual.

Yeah, it has.

And, I wanted this to, happen because I've been reading a lot of research lately on the state of New Zealand families. And what's clear is that we're doing a lot of things wrong. And all the money that's been poured into our social agencies and, and our rehab services and, all the money that's been doled out. None of it's actually making stuff better.

No, it's not.

Actually to say none of it's a bit strong because there will be stuff that's happening in New Zealand that is amazing. But I think they can be characterised as, not working. And part of the problem is because I think we're missing some stuff, and so, we're missing the spiritual element. And so for those of you that are listening and you're, thinking, wow, that's spiritual, that's not for me. Well, that's fine, but, you've got to also hear the fact that, a lot of the stuff in New Zealand isn't working. The money's been thrown down the tubes, and we do have to do things different. And so what we're hearing from today is someone that, is running a program which is tremendously effective. And you're getting some amazing outcomes there.

Yeah, we are getting some great outcomes.

And so I wanted you all to hear this, because there's some of you that are really struggling, you've tried a whole bunch of stuff. And like Paul said, some of you will be feeling like you don't fit. Or there's something missing or, there's that, brokenness that you haven't been able to beat. And like Paul, you probably need to have an encounter, with a higher power. And so I, think this is really important for people to hear. There's another part I want to connect to Paul. Which I'll be really interested in understanding because, you mentioned about the people in the program not wanting to leave. And so, many of the people who follow me will know that we run an organisation called Hapai Whanua and we have the same experience where mums come along and they do a program and they're just busting to come back for the next one. And, every week they just don't wanna leave it. You know, it's one o'clock and just keep hanging around and my wife comes home late every week cause you know, she's just hanging around chatting and it's great. And I think part of it's because of the community that's been created.

Yeah, definitely.

And what we do in New Zealand, we're great at delivering programs. But programs don't change either. And I just think we need to understand this that, what changes people is relationships. And change inside of healthy relationships and community. So, I'm, not wanting to put any words in your mouth. But talk a little bit about what that looks like for you guys.

Community is a huge, thing. I know for myself, healthy community played a huge part in my healing journey. For years and years I tried to, battle by myself and do it. But no matter where we need healing or what we need healing from, we can only do it through others and with others, that is it. Especially addiction, because it's a life of isolation. The opposite of that is community, and I know for myself, I'd been, craving for community, although it was just such a longing for community and a sense of belonging. That's just all I wanted. And even through the drugs, that was an identity itself. So there's a community there within itself. Except that was just centred around using meth. But if we can belong to a community that is centred around a spiritual aspect or around people who want to get better. Then we'll just grow.

Yeah. That's so important. I love the way you put that because there'll be, again, some listening who don't want to be in a spiritual community, they don't want church. But the point is, and I think I made this comment on a podcast the other day that someone once said, you know, show me your five closest friends and I'll show you your future. And so we need to surround ourselves with people that are wanting to be better themselves. And if we're not, how can we expect to be better? I personally find this really hard. I was raised, quite alone. Part of that was the way we were raised in the middle of nowhere. And part of it was just my personality. I enjoy being alone. Still do. Even though I've got six kids, and I kind of desire being by myself. But I recognise is that what I desire the most is to be by myself. But what I need the most is to be with people who are ahead of me that are challenging me, that are speaking into my life. I don't always do that Well, but obviously I'm, not unique in that.

I'm exactly the same. I love people. But then I also love being by myself. But there's the big difference between isolating and being in solitude. And it's finding that balance. Not all of us are extroverts. People like ourselves, I think we're quite introverted. And that's all right. And it's, just finding that balance. And knowing there is a, great community there for when we do want to be plugging into that community. But within saying that with anyone who is fresh out of addiction it's so crucial to be really plugged into community and to be surrounding yourself with like-minded people on the same journey.

So that's the challenge. How do the guys listening to this that are struggling with stuff, and some of them, some of my audience will have some significant drug challenges and others will just not have had any drugs. But they might have a porn addiction or drink too much during the week. Do people like that turn up to your program that have just got a light sort of porn addiction? Or, a, little bit of a drinking problem.

Yep. We have people there with gambling, addictions, eating disorders, people who are addicted to self harm. It's all the same. But it just displays or manifests through different things.

So, that's one thing they can do, right. If you're in the Tauranga area. How actually just, give a little plug for you guys. Is there like a 0800 I'm addicted number or something? How do they get hold of you?

There isn't. There's my email address. So it's [email protected].

That's cool. Well for the rest that don't email you how do we go about getting some friends in our world that, are ahead of us? How does a young dad do that, do you reckon?

Yes. Getting involved with the right service providers. Especially if they are community or have a sense of community there. And then it's really just taking that step of faith. Because it can be really quite fearful. Even walking through the doors of somewhere like that. And I think the big thing is, just going with an open mind and an open heart. There's that great saying, I can't remember who wrote that great quote - nothing changes if nothing changes. And if we, if we want change in our lives, then we have to be doing different things. Yeah.

So if we're struggling with an addiction of some kind or just feeling alone, if we don't change something, then nothing's gonna change. So part of that's about changing who we hang out with, changing our routines. It's interesting. We've come back here cause I've talked about this, in the interview I did last week with a guy called Frank Richie. He's a media chaplain. And he was saying the same thing. Basically we have to talk. We have to start talking. But it's so hard. And obviously men don't want to talk. But, our devices convince us that we're connected to sunshine. And nothing's gonna change. I'm convinced more and more as I try to look at it from a social agency perspective, cause I'm running like you are running something and I wanted to make sure it's effective. And I know I can pretty much ignore the program that we deliver if we're not delivering community. And so then I'm thinking of the dads that are listening, well, if they're not in a community they can listen to this podcast and it's pretty much a waste of time. Unless they're having that encounter or they're connecting with some guys that are just gonna make them feel a bit uncomfortable about how they're, how they're living.

Definitely. The beautiful thing about being in a community, a supportive community like that is sitting down and hearing other people going through the same thing as well can bring a lot of comfort. And it is like, hey I'm, not the only one going through this. Even that within itself can be so, so comforting.

I, think to one degree or another, we all feel a level of anxiety and a pain. Gosh, I mean for last year I gave up drinking in the last, 12 months now that sounds like I was an alcoholic. I wasn't, but I had to prove it to myself. Because I was drinking half a bottle of wine a night and thinking, well that was pretty normal. And in fact, our culture normalises it. And I kind of just got to that point that I thought, I just need to prove to myself I can stop. And, so that's, been quite transformational for me, but I think in the process of stopping drinking, I've realised I was covering some issues.

And it's so easy to just reach for, anything and use it as a crotch, aye? Or almost like a blanket that we can just comfort ourselves with that can be absolutely anything.

Yeah. That's awesome, Paul. Well, in finishing, what would be the one thing of all the things we've talked about or not talked about today? What would be one thing for the guys listening, so just imagine, you know, that single solo dad or young dad or maybe a CEO. You know, I've got a range of guys that listen to this. What, do you think you would like to leave with them as a sort of passing, finishing thought?

Anything you may be struggling with, push through that fear and reach out for help. Cause there is so much freedom to be out on the other side of it. Just pushing through that fear. There's just so much, whatever you're going through, you don't have to do it alone. There's people out there who will support you, love on you, and walk through the journey with you.

That's great. So, let's say someone's in listening to this overseas or on South Island or whatever, can they email you or should, they be reaching out to some other local church or, what, what would you say to them?

They can email me if they want, reach out to a local church. Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous is a worldwide program. You can jump on Google. And you can find a meetings list, right? Absolutely. Anywhere in the world.

Wow. A meetings list? Tell me about that. What does that mean?

So just like a, a list of all the places they hold 12 step meetings at. Okay so if they Googled Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous they would find a meetings list there. So that's something they can do today.

With their town. Just put it in there and they can just find somewhere to go.

Otherwise, text Paul flick him an email.

Most definitely must have a chat. Yeah.

Feel free to email me if you wanna chat, not a chat, but you can join my email group. I'm happy to point you to Paul, and try to point you in the right direction. Yeah, mate, I really appreciate your time. I really appreciate your honesty and hearing your journey. Loving seeing what you're doing at Recovery. It's just incredible seeing, cause what I haven't communicated is we see a lot of these people, turning up to our community at Curate Church. And they have, seen guys about to step into jail that are like, Hey, thank you. You know, my life has transformed, or just come out jail and you know, some of the stories are profound. So clearly the work you're doing is, amazing. And I know what you're saying you're just, providing community. You're just pointing people to the highest how,

We're just showing people the love of Jesus. That's it. Pointing them in His direction.

Awesome. Thanks for that, mate. Appreciate your time.

You're welcome. Thank you for having me.

I look forward to, I wanna have you back some time.

All right. Definitely. Thank you, Mike.


Appreciate it.


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