Former dealer now addict healer

By David Kavanagh | posted on September 14, 2019

THE founder of one of Australia’s strictest drug rehabilitation clinics will take to the stage with a message of tough love at the Kojonup Sports Complex next Tuesday.

Shalom House CEO Peter Lyndon-James’ three-hour seminar will teach those struggling with addiction, as well as their loved ones, how best to break free from the hold drugs have on their lives.

The 49-year-old spoke with the Weekender last week about the strategies he employs and how the decades he spent addicted to and dealing drugs led him onto his current path of impassioned advocacy.

“What a lot of families don’t realise is that the drug addict actually enjoys what they’re doing … Unless that person makes that choice to change, they won’t change,” he said.

“Basically I show families how to bring a person to the end of themselves by handing them over to the consequences of their decisions.

“Then, when the addict comes to that stage, you’ve got to be there as a source of structure and wisdom and guidance.”

Mr Lyndon-James said that each of the 140 people currently residing at his self-funded rehab and cold turkey detox centre in Perth had a “root cause” that sparked their drug use.

He explained that many addicts used drugs and chemicals to cover up the wounds caused by triggers such as molestation, abandonment, separation from their parents and pornography.

“My root cause was un-forgiveness towards my parents. My dad ran off with a babysitter, my mum chose the bottle over me and I was sexually abused when I was eight-years-old,” he said.

“I was rejected and I’ve done a lot of things I’m ashamed of, but how I used to cope was by sticking a pick in my arm, smoking a pipe or popping a pill.

“[When dealing with addiction] you’ve got to take the blanket off to find out what’s in the heart. You’ve got to take the axe to the root.”

Mr Lyndon-James noted his “extremely confrontational” approach to rehab stemmed from his 40 years of experience dealing with addiction, first-hand and as an advocate.

He said he spent 26 years in and out of prison and came to a point where he was dealing up to 2.5kg of methamphetamines a day, in addition to other drugs and guns.

His turning point came in the form of an intense police raid.

“I got up one morning after 16 days of no sleep, a helicopter came over the roof and the Tactical Response Group came through,” he recalled.

“They had me laying in the kitchen with a sawn-off shotgun at my head and I looked at the corridor and saw my wife laying with my 13-month-old son and she also had a shotgun to her head.

“That was probably the lowest point in my life. I hated how I was, I was trapped in a world I didn’t want to be in and Ijust remember crying out ‘I need help’.”

After leaving prison in 2002, Mr Lyndon-James spent three years attaining an Advanced Diploma in Theology and another five years acting as a volunteer prison chaplain at Acacia Prison.

He founded Shalom House in 2012.

“I put my home up for mortgage and bought a house and put a few fellas in it … to help them change their lives like I changed mine,” he said.

“Seven fellas turned into 14, which turned into 50, 100 and 140 today. I have 18 families living in my rehab as well as 70 to 100 staff members.”

In recent years, Mr Lyndon-James has taken to spreading his message across Australia and the world in the form of public speaking tours and his 2017 book Tough Love: Tackling Drug Addiction and Seeing Change.

His seminars have seen him address prison populations, school students and police commissioners from every Australian state and New Zealand.

“The Kojonup community has asked for me to come. Like most places in Australia and New Zealand, it has a problem with methamphetamines,” he said.

The Tough Love seminar will take place on September 17 from 6 – 9pm.