Novel approach a hit to kicking drugs
CONTRARY to common stereotypes, Jost Sauer said it was living in Nimbin for a year that got him off drugs.
Sauer's work with drug addicts is considered to be groundbreaking. He has written three books on the topic and has a very high rate of success in his programs.
But it could have been a very different life path for the German-born therapist who was kicked out of university and spent several years as a drug smuggler, gun runner and heavy drug user.
"I was living in Amsterdam, doing a bit of dealing and living in squats in the underground scene," Sauer said.
He was called up to the German army but didn't serve. Instead he headed to Australia and arrived in Sydney in 1981 with pills and hashish in his backpack.
Sauer was stopped by Customs and quizzed about his illegal contraband.
"I told them I forgot to smoke it and that I was a junkie. They let me in. It was totally surreal. It wouldn't happen now," Sauer said.
The Customs officer suggested he go to Nimbin.
"When I got there I was like 'Hallelujah', but for some reason I ran into the right people," Sauer said.
"I was living with this eccentric tai chi master and I started getting in to vegetarian food and all that stuff. I didn't want to do drugs anymore. I stopped everything."
Sauer worked in several jobs including as an artist's assistant and ski instructor before getting into social work and eventually drug and alcohol counselling.
His approach to drug rehabilitation utilises a combination of Chinese medicine and western lifestyle techniques that he said dealt with the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the addict.
"I provide a solution that is totally different to mainstream recovery models," Sauer said.
"It's all about how to recapture the magic of drugs."