Written by Maxim Etty
Overcoming a drug addiction is difficult, but Max Meeuwisse (28) managed to stay clean. Now he’s helping others to do the same.
January is a special month for Max Meeuwisse because it marks three years of officially being clean. Max used hard drugs since he was fourteen years old: “I felt defeated and helpless. But the fear of losing my life motivated me to stop using drugs”, Max says, “overcoming my drug problem and helping others feels like a personal revolution for me.”
In rehab, he learned how to talk and write about his problems by using the so-called ‘twelve steps’. This is a method to overcome addiction by completing twelve personal exercises. Until today he keeps a diary where he writes about his life and his personal progress. He still visits meetings where addicts gather to talk about their everyday life and their problems. “That’s how I manage to stay clean”, Max explains.
After spending months in rehab, Max became a completely different person. He was touched by the people who helped him manage his problems and wanted to do the same for other sufferers. “I’m clean because of the counsellors in rehab. I decided to do the same for others as they did for me”.
In order to help addicts, he uses different methods: “I can only help someone if he or she wants to, but if so, there are a couple of things I can do”, Max explains, “one of the things is using my own experiences to give someone advice.” He also invites people to the meetings, but his main method is being a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who completed the twelve steps and is willing to help someone on their way to a clean life. Max also carries an extra phone with him, so his ‘sponsees’ (the people who have a sponsor) can call him day and night when they need someone to talk to.
However, Max thinks that being a sponsor is not only a job because he also learns a lot from his sponsees. “Sometimes you give advice, but sometimes you also receive advice. I think that’s something incredibly beautiful about being a sponsor.” For Max, it almost feels like it’s his duty to give back to the people. “I’m so glad that I’m still alive”, he says, “and that I had the chance to learn from my mistakes and that I can pass it on today.”
Despite standing at the abyss, he was able to recover and to be happy again. He started his own personal revolution and that’s what Max also wants for others. Tonight is the first time that he organizes his own meeting in Osdorp, the first that has ever taken place there. “I feel grateful, proud and full of love. If you help someone with pure intentions, you experience real love,” he says.