AllBetter

Duncan Maxwell: From Nightlife to Entrepreneurship

August 13, 2023 Joe Van Wie / Duncan Maxwell Season 3 Episode 60
AllBetter
Duncan Maxwell: From Nightlife to Entrepreneurship
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join us as we journey into the extraordinary life of Duncan Maxwell. Hailing from the Netherlands, Duncan's path, which led him all the way to Scranton, Pennsylvania, is a testament to resilience and the transformative power of recovery. We peel back the layers of his past, traversing the cobblestone streets of Amsterdam, the Dutch countryside, the pulsating energy of the EMDR and techno club scenes, and even the intricate nuances of European sex clubs.

Duncan doesn't hold back as he delves into the heart of his tumultuous upbringing, his interactions with trauma, and his search for cultural identity. He provides an unfiltered look at the challenges he faced growing up in Amsterdam, away from his mother, and the impact of living in a collectivist society on his generational attachment. His story of trauma and subsequent redemption is a potent reminder of the indomitable human spirit. 

The latter part of the episode is a deep dive into Duncan's substance use and his experiences in the Dutch club scene. Duncan's recount of attending the world's most exclusive techno club, Bergine, is a riveting tale that provides a glimpse into a world often shrouded in mystery. This episode culminates in Duncan's journey to recovery in Scranton, where he channeled his entrepreneurial spirit to launch a new business designing high-end purses. His story is a testament to how recovery can lead not only to personal healing but also a thriving entrepreneurial spirit. Duncan's transformation is a beacon of hope and an affirmation that it's never too late to rewrite your life story.

Please stop by ApplePodcast and give us a Rating and Review!

Leaders Of Long Term Recovery in Pennsylvania 

We combine proven recovery principles with new, innovative techniques to provide one of the most effective programs for young men in the country.

 Discussions on addiction and recovery. We interview clinicians/researchers, legislators, and individuals that include a variety of means to recovery. Joe Van Wie is a father, husband, filmmaker, and reformed media consultant in recovery. 

Fellowship House
As a treatment center, Fellowship House offers both residential and outpatient treatment services to

allbetter.fm
Discussions on addiction and recovery. We interview clinicians/researchers, legislators, and individ

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the show


Stop by our Apple Podcast and drop a Review!

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/allbetter/id1592297425?see-all=reviews


Support The Show
https://www.patreon.com/allbetter

Speaker 1:

Hello and thanks again for listening to another episode of All Better. I'm your host, joe Vanley. Today's guest is my friend, duncan Maxwell. Duncan Maxwell was born with an industrial name. Maxwell Family from Long Island turn of the century one of the wealthiest families of Long Island and largest estate built there. Duncan didn't grow up in Long Island. Duncan grew up in Holland and then in Amsterdam and then in the rural areas of Holland. He comes here today to share his story that is pretty unique. He found recovery here in Scranton and how he ended up here. It's a very interesting story. I've gotten to know Duncan over the last six months and he has a lot of guts and he speaks openly and maturely about many topics that could be difficult for some people to talk about. But I think Duncan is a great help to many people that experience connection through EMDR or techno club scenes. At the same time they feel real connection with people, the connection you experience specifically and distinctly with ketamine, mdma and late night discussions with other people that have experienced trauma or have substance use disorder. There's no binary way to paint this as bad and good. It's a very complex culture to leave because some of it begins very nurturing. We talk about that. We talk about also another end of that subject sex clubs in Berlin and Europe. It's a disclaimer if anyone has very conservative leanings or prude prudish. There will be discussions of European sex clubs, which I found interesting. Duncan's been my friend and I think he's a great addition to Scranton's recovery community and from his recovery here he has transitioned it into an entrepreneurial spirit. I think one of the only places you can see an effect that would be almost reverse brain drain happens through recovery communities. Someone comes here because we have a very strong and vibrant recovery community in Scranton, northeastern PA. They get sober from Long Island, bucks County, connecticut, and they get sober here in their 20s and I could point to over a dozen people that stayed here because they had families here. They got married, they got a second chance at life, they started a business here and there's some of the best additions I could point to in our area. Let's meet Duncan. Here we are with Duncan Maxwell. I'm at Duncan about geez, could it be six months?

Speaker 2:

now Six months, six months, holy shit, a little bit over that, actually, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I'm glad you came. Thanks for coming on the podcast man.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1:

Let's find out who you are, because I feel like I'd be robbing people the experience of getting to know you because you're so interesting and how much has happened for you in the last six months. That's just really distinctly different than most people's experience in Scranton when coming here to get sober, because where you are from, maybe we could start in a timeline. Where are you from?

Speaker 2:

Where am I from? Well, I'm from the Netherlands, amsterdam to be specific. I haven't lived in Amsterdam my entire life. I would say probably about half my time I spent in Amsterdam. Half my time I spent in the middle of the country. Heart of Ike, heart of Ike, heart of Ike, is that?

Speaker 1:

like rural. Is that the sticks?

Speaker 2:

It's pretty much the sticks there's. They have a city and a center, but it's nothing compared to Amsterdam, rotterdam, utrecht, nothing like that. But I lived there from when I was about two years until I was seven, and I moved there again from about age 13 till 18 or 17. I'm not, and why is your English so?

Speaker 1:

good.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's because my dad's American, otherwise I wouldn't be here, otherwise they would have kicked me out because I don't have a visa. The funniest thing is people always say like or like. Some people say you don't have any accent and other people would be like you don't have an accent, but I can't place where you would be from in the US, you know? Yeah, it's not.

Speaker 1:

No I get your accent and it was funny because I don't get to meet a lot of people that are from Holland or Amsterdam and I'm Dutch, like that's, by surnames Van Wee, and that's how we that was our initial conversation we were talking.

Speaker 2:

I was like holy crap, what, what?

Speaker 1:

Having some friends now. Look at that, it's somehow it just picks up my phone. This happens often, sorry.

Speaker 2:

Busy now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, busy, it's lunatics calling me. What would you say is that would be starkly different from the friends you made here in America and what you know about their experience, from being, you know, young to adolescence in school, if any, if you know, versus the one you experienced. Tell me what grade school was like, in contrast to what you believe is happening here in the United States.

Speaker 2:

That's interesting yeah. Have you picked up any differences in the last six months of how people To be honest, I would say the Dutch are very similar to the Americans overall, like, and especially like recently in the last 10 years. Like you can see this kind of cycle where something, people do stuff in America a certain way and then, like, a little bit later, the Dutch will start following along. I feel like some other European countries also have that, especially in Holland. I don't know what it is, but with schooling it's. It's similar, but it's also very different. Like in Holland, we have three different levels, like after primary or elementary school, I guess you guys would call it, and you go to a different level based on your intelligence. She do this test called the C to suits, and how you score. In that, combined with how you did in school, you'll be placed in either Feveo, which is the highest, havo or Mavo. Okay.

Speaker 1:

And so, mavo, what is this? What are these words represent? They're just. Are they static? Like, is there? It's not. You feel like your pigeonhole if you were Mavis versus Stavis, because you say it's the highest and it's because it's the most difficult, most difficult. And are these tracks that are just straight academics? Or do some of these tests you know this now require or see that you are a better fit in a vocation?

Speaker 2:

No no. Usually it's based purely off of intelligence and usually if you want to have like a vocation, like a trade, you're automatically going to go to Mavo because you won't need to learn physics. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So is there status with that? When you were growing up, like what, like where you're going to end up after this test, like in a certain way there is yeah, but in a certain way there is also like a negative, like connotation towards it.

Speaker 2:

you know, like, for example, I went my first three years of high school. I went to Feveo bilingual Feveo because my American or my English was already so good and I actually didn't want to. Yeah, because, like I was like, well, all these people are nerds or losers, you know, and I just wanted to. I was always someone who was not interested in economics at all, even though I was fairly intelligent and what age.

Speaker 1:

Does this happen at you? You feel like you'd be separated from your group.

Speaker 2:

Then yeah, that too, even though, like, a lot of my friends went to Havo, like I didn't really have any friends that went to Mavo. But also around that time of high school, after my first year of high school, I moved from Amsterdam to Heart of Ike. Oh, that's a hard move. Oh yeah, that messed me up. And how far away are they? An hour, an hour, which in Holland. In Holland, that's a lot.

Speaker 1:

Well, in high school it's a lot yeah, I mean totally separated from a metropolitan life. Now you're out in the sticks and growing up in Holland. How did that feel? Did you ever feel like you were fully from Holland? Because you're bilingual, your dad's American and he's living there and you've always had a close relationship. Does that create any texture that's different than the kids around you?

Speaker 2:

A whole lot in so many different ways. I always felt like a severe outcast, even though I was quite popular in school. I always was but I never felt like I fit in. People liked me but I never felt like I had that true bond that a lot of people have with each other. A lot of times I would have one friend here and there. I'd have the cycle of having a best friend for a few years and then we'd break up for some reason. Yeah, sure, but it was partly because my dad was American, but it was also a lot of other factors. For example, I'm mixed race, my mom's from Mauritius, my dad's white American, so my mom's black, and she's also got a little bit of Hindu in her Indian Sri Lankan You're an ancient man. You're an ancient man, it's a weird mix. That's an awesome mix. So that really that, on top of having a way different situation at home and also just I always felt like just a weird kid. I had weird interests. I didn't like to follow the norm. I hated following the norm.

Speaker 1:

To be honest, if you ever just look back on hindsight, do you think weird interest came Inately or naturally? Or do they come as a resistance to knowing you're not in the in-group Because you're in a predominantly white European northern nation and you have dark skin? I presume no one made you feel this way, but this just rose up, you think.

Speaker 2:

Well, actually a lot of people did make me feel no way, god damn. So when I was living in the heart of Ike, especially like even in Amsterdam, I went to a school like my elementary school and it was almost all white kids, like literally. There was one and he was a really good friend of mine, person in the same age group as me, who was also mixed, and then this one girl who was like Indonesian yeah, that was it. The rest were all and maybe like here and there, like someone Turkish or like bookerian, but like predominantly white, they moved to heart of Ike and, like in my high school, there literally there were probably 10 black people and about 20 Turkish slash Moroccan people and the rest were all white. So it was like, and like a lot of times, like a lot of people. Don't make you feel out of place, but there were some people who would purposely, like in Dutch, like a lot of people. It's weird, so that's his word, it's called nager. Hey, you can.

Speaker 1:

You can see where that comes from, it's still a derogatory slang attack on race.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's the thing. The Dutch don't use it, like a lot of Dutch people don't use it in that way. They can use it in that way if they're mad, yeah, and a lot of people who just refer to me as oh, do you know, duncan? And then like who? And then I'll be like, oh yeah, the nager, like that.

Speaker 1:

In reference to your race, like yeah.

Speaker 2:

And like people would also joke and just like, just say fucked up shit and then add nager to the end.

Speaker 1:

I have a nephew Just experienced for the first time he's he's black and he's had a predominantly white school. You wouldn't think would do this and two of the girls called him. Oh my God, the rage that came out of our family, like well, you like, you can't believe it's happening, like it's 20. And you just forget, hey, the cruelty of adolescents and just an undeveloped mind not having any clue of what pain they could be causing other people to hazing, which is kind of just this passage. Yeah, everyone seems to march through different degrees, but to experience it based on race is, I think, uniquely different and traumatizing. You know, from being your friend and other friends, it's a, it's something different, it's completely different.

Speaker 2:

Definitely and like also with what was it going to say? Oh yeah, and so also the thing I have, but I didn't mention before. But why I really felt like I didn't belong anywhere is because, like, when you're mixed, you don't really belong with like black people or Asian people or white people. You just feel like you're if you get along with everyone.

Speaker 1:

like it's weird, it's a weird ambassador with no home, like you just always some dignitary that doesn't have a headquarters Exactly. Well, I think you made a wonderful home at Scranton so far. It's a must, definitely.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, kids can be cruel, like I remember. I remember in high school one guy like he was kind of my friend, like partied together sometimes he was like drunk and he he was telling me and mind you, he genuinely thought he was being nice he told me usually I don't like nagers, but you were pretty all right. It's like, oh, I didn't even like contest. I was like, oh cool, I was like I'm not even going to waste my energy on this.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I usually don't like imperialists. I was like I'll get more high, yeah, but you know you're all right for a white imperialist. When this first happened, what was like in your household and in the dynamics of dealing with something like this? How did that? How did you take that home? What was your ability to get support, relief or tell someone what's going on there at that age?

Speaker 2:

Like how do you deal with that?

Speaker 1:

Overall, I wouldn't tell anyone and does this come from? Like maybe this would be too much for your mom to hear, Maybe one won't even want to stress her out.

Speaker 2:

Well, like at the time, like I didn't live with my mom from the age of seven on but I lived with my stepmom, who was more of a mother to me than my actual mom in a lot of ways, and sometimes I would tell her something like you rarely ever talked about stuff like that with my dad, because my dad is like reworn on that emotional level together and with her I would sometimes bring it up if I was really bothered by something but like I can't even really think of a single instance, except like when I was really freaking out about something.

Speaker 1:

And then, after leaving with your mom, out of curiosity, how do you identify? How did you identify with your culture, your diverse culture? After seven, did it seem? Was there a place to identify that and make it part of your personality, because you're in the Amsterdam and not living with your mom after seven? How does someone nourish that? Because I know you have a fully developed now. But how did that begin?

Speaker 2:

To be honest, I don't know. Like when I left my mom I was pretty messed up. I was like looking back on it, I was more than likely clinically depressed.

Speaker 1:

At seven.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, because I remember like, or just like, some type of some type of problem. Because I remember I was like severely underweight and I wouldn't eat, which is common in depression, and also sleeping was terrible for me, and I was just always zoned out, I was spaced out, but I wouldn't eat to the point where, like, my dad would force me to eat something and I would just be like, no, I'm not eating that. And then he would tell me like, and then you would just literally just not eat until the end of the night. That's crazy. And I remember, like this, one day I had like this victory over food. I remember it very clearly. So my dad would make really plain foods, because I was extraordinarily picky I was, I just never wanted to eat. So he made hot dogs and spaghetti Allio e olio, like the most plain you can think of, with a little bit of cheese on top. And for the first time I finished my plate and I came in the kitchen like with this victory, like yeah, I ate the entire plate. Wow. And I was also like I had weird things about me. I just despised school. I resented school, like for the first few weeks I didn't go to school when I lived with my dad when I moved in, because of course I needed to adjust and stuff and when he told me I had to go to school, I was like what do you mean? I got to go to school. Are you crazy? I don't go to school. I was like seven years old, wow.

Speaker 1:

What do you think was driving that Like to the suppression of your appetite? It's being like almost laborious to eat.

Speaker 2:

I think it was mostly induced by just trauma from living with my mom because, like my mom is not fully well she's gotten a lot better over the years but she was crazy for a while. Like I remember like constant fights. She had like so many different boyfriends and like some of them would move in after just like a month or two of dating and it's just terrible people and like sometimes bring their own kid with them. I was living there with my brothers and sisters and they were also going crazy. I remember fights all the time, chaos Like stuff like that. It was never calm, never, not a single moment. I will actually know that's a lie. There was a single moment Like I have only really good memories I have from that time is this one boyfriend my mom had and she actually has like my little sister, it's her father because I had a child and I remember at night like I would always be extremely scared at night, like I slept in my mom's bed like almost every single night or I'd fall asleep there and she'd move me to my own bed because I couldn't sleep in my own room, because I would have like sleep paralysis and stuff Nightmares. But I remember he would read me out of this Looney Tunes book and that was like One of the few times I really had like a calm calm cause he's a great guy. He's like amazing, but yeah, and also like coming back on that scariness, so I had that with my dad too. I was extremely terrified of the dark, like I couldn't even be in the dark for one second and I flipped the hell out. But also sleeping alone, like first. I think I would sleep in my dad's bed a lot of times but I would constantly kick at night, so like he got crazy that name was like I got to get my son to his own bed, like he was also sleeping down with my step-by-step. It was like it was a big bed but like three people.

Speaker 1:

It's wild, you know. It got me thinking generationally. Anyone from a collectivist society usually sleeps with their parents in some unend it way, right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And this is normal and in you know Western individualist kind of cultures there's an immediately and as quickly as possible. There's a separation from the child to the parents' bedroom to keep like this sacred space for the parents, when predominantly most of the world doesn't do that, there's a safety and a nurturing and that they would almost consider neglect to not let a child sleep there because they abundantly think there should be more of a longer period of attachment to develop a fully secure personality that would match a collectivist society. Farmers and I guess I'm just saying that because I'd be curious is that carry over to generations, even though it's like your, you know nature and nurture, you're arriving in this scenario to feel that vulnerable, especially up to seven, without you know caregiver. I don't think there's anything abnormal about that.

Speaker 2:

Only the Westerners. I didn't look at it that way.

Speaker 1:

That's why we're on a podcast. We're going to find out Duncan.

Speaker 2:

Find out the secret of the word.

Speaker 1:

So there was and that's why we relate when we talk much about this. There's a deficiency and almost this annoying thing at your personality that makes you feel uneasy. It's producing anxiety and depression at a far too early age and someone should be able to experience depression. It has come from harm and chaos of you. Know other people that had it and you get to this more secure environment at your dad's and adolescence is kind of right around the corner. Can you summarize what happened during adolescence, that emerged in your life that started to give you an identity and maybe relief from what you experienced the first period of your life?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, even when my dad was very stable but like him and my stepmom still fought like crazy, like I still remember him screaming matches and shouting and yelling all the time I don't know why, and they stayed together for so long. But then I started making friends and I started hanging out with a lot of people. That gave me some relief and by the time I was about 12, 11 or 12, I started going to the skate park. So I was always in a skateboarding from like from. I think like I was eight years old when I got my first skateboard or like I probably had like one of those crappy ones from like toys or us or like intertois in Holland, but intertois, intertois. But I got like a first. It wasn't a really good skateboard, but it was like it was like 50 bucks, so it was like a substantial skateboard and I was skateboarding. Then, by the time I was 11 or 12, I started going to the skate park and that's where I really started finding people I related to, because this was like an area like the skate park was like heaven from like away from home. It was like you didn't have to worry about any of your problems at the skate park, only thing you had to worry about is when you're going to learn to kick flip and like first you learn Ollie, then you learn 180, pop, shove it, then kick flip, and then when you get that kick flip, that is when your mind lights up and it's just fun. It's just like you can spend all day at the skate park just shooting the shit with your friends. It's a skating.

Speaker 1:

It's a universal culture. I think my friends that were skaters. They had their own subculture of and their bonds seem really substantial, the way I see skaters connect. Was it your experience that this? Is the first kind of group that you're.

Speaker 2:

Because that's the beauty from skateboarding and this is why I love this so much Skateboarding, it doesn't matter who you are, where you came from. The only thing matters is that you ride a skateboard. You could be the biggest nerd, you could be the biggest gangster at the skateboard. Everyone is equal. Everyone is a skateboarder and that's just like the beauty of it all. Because, like all, all of those are so different and, like some people came from nature, some people came from poverty white, black, asian, hispanic, like everyone and it's just a big cesspool of everything. The board.

Speaker 1:

It's the great equalizer In the midst of this. When did you first find alcohol or your first drug of choice?

Speaker 2:

Well, yeah, that's so. That was also through skateboarding, of course, In skateboarding, like the age range is like very different. Like usually in traditional sports. You're with your own age group, you're in a club. This is just three range, Like do whatever you want. So a lot of my friends are older than me. So I started smoking weed through skateboarding when I was about 12. And when I found weed like at first I didn't I was like I used to be very against all smoking, all drugs, all drinking, as most kids I assume are, you know. And then I started going to the skate park and like people were smoking weed, Like I was. I was always really naturally curious. So I was like first asking, like what does weed do? Like what is it? And then, like this friend of mine explained it to me and we started smoking. Like when I I don't really think I got high the first time, Sure, yeah, I probably wasn't inhaling very good. I never smoked before. I did feel different, but it was probably just a placebo. But I remember the first time I got blazed and that was insane. I felt incredible and though, like I was way, way, way too high. Yeah, what?

Speaker 1:

do you? First I was thinking I don't know if you ever saw the Ninja Turtles movies from the. Not really, I was thinking of the foot. That was the criminal organization that bonded through skateboarding and the kids could be eight to 19 or joining shredder to terrorize the city. I'd be like 12 hanging out with a 20 year old, yeah, and then eventually you'd be saved by mutant turtles that knew all kinds of martial arts. Hell yeah, well, I digress. But what? What about the consciousness of of your mind being high? Because I remember the first time I smoked pot and it was magical, like the suspension of the only state of consciousness I knew at that point was identifying what. Whatever was happening was what I was. Whatever emotion was happening, it doesn't leave till it dissipates. There's no agency. I'm just victim to whatever's happening. I didn't feel that when I was stoned, I felt like I entered another way to live Like, and now it's coming from pot. What do you think it was about marijuana that was so magical versus what you just experienced, not being high?

Speaker 2:

So I just loved kind of being out of control. Yeah, I didn't want to be in control of my emotions or my feelings, or just like I wanted to be out of this world and in part, like especially in the beginnings, I would listen to music and it would just like sear through my body like the frequencies and stuff, and I would just feel all this tingling around me and everything was just incredible and everything was so funny.

Speaker 1:

Did you feel out of touch with your body prior to that, Like going into adolescence? Do you feel disconnected from it?

Speaker 2:

I don't really remember to be honest, no. I have little recollection, except like very distinct moments. I like the more memories and actual feelings.

Speaker 1:

Smoking, the music was like you were at the concert, but it was more than that. It put a whole another dimension to my fantasy life, which, up to that point, fantasies could be intentional, drifting and dreaming, but some were just rumination and being angry and upset about things. And then music and smoking pot created a dimension that was like orgasmic. I was gone, I would have phones on and it was something I enjoyed much. It was like a retreat from the day. It was real. It wasn't cheap. What was your attitude about pot and drugs? How did it change? Do you think this was something to avoid prior to that, like from your father's house, or it was even though my dad is a big pot smoker. I didn't really know that at the time but he still smokes weed every day he's a hippie man? He's a hippie. Yeah, he lives through the sixties. How old is your dad?

Speaker 2:

I'm 21, or anyone on him. So, yeah, I'm in an old age, but he's cool. He's cool, shit yeah.

Speaker 1:

He sounds cool. Get to meet him soon. Hopefully it is coming in, it's coming soon.

Speaker 2:

But my opinion changed completely. Like towards hard drugs. They were still. I still disliked hard drugs. I was like why would you ever do that? I have weed. Weed is my answer. I can be high every day. Why would I need anything else? Of course that changed the first time I drank. I remember the first time I drank was in the woods with friends before we went to this. I was about 14. We were going to this nightclub in Holland. It's called the Groene Schuur in Zevolta. Anyone knows, shout out to you. It's like this small nightclub. It's basically revolve around minors. It's 16 and up. They serve alcohol, they need to have an 18 plus band, but everyone's drinking. I had a fake ID from a friend. I was really lucky because he was 16 and he was from Brazil Not the same ethnicity at all. It was an old picture of him on his old ID. I looked like him so I could get into the club at a very young age. I was probably one of the youngest people there. I remember the first time getting drunk. I was like holy crap, this is the best feeling. This is way better than pot. This is insane. I had an amazing night. It was magical. I won't go into all the details.

Speaker 1:

Was this the first full experience of feeling like an adult or sovereign?

Speaker 2:

I always had this fascination with movies. Not necessarily movies I don't really like movies, to be honest but like the characters in movies and like the cool people the smokers, the drinkers, the swath yeah, the cool dudes I always had a fascination with parties. Parties always sparked my mind. I was like, oh, that's what the cool people do. I had to be cool. I couldn't live a life of mediocrity or boringness or whatever. I had to find the parties at the youngest age. I had to go the craziest at the youngest age because that's what I wanted to be known for. I got to experience that and it was everything I dreamed of.

Speaker 1:

Explain a little for someone who wouldn't understand the club scenes right now in Holland. Is you get this mixture of underage and of age? How old do you have to be to drink in Holland? 18. 18. There's a different culture there. Yeah, I'm not saying it's meaningful, I'm not saying it's not a little shallow, but at first it provides a lot. You probably felt like you connected.

Speaker 2:

Most definitely. I don't recommend it to anyone, but I wouldn't have had it any other way because all those experiences have made me into the person I am today. For the most part I kind of like that person. Of course there's some things I want to change, there's some things that might have could have gone better, but overall I think all those experiences bad and good really helped me, just in general, with getting high and partying, especially after partying. So after the club closes you go to someone's house and you keep on drinking and doing drugs. Basically, all you do is everyone talks about the trauma. Most people who stay until the club closes have that pain. They have that disease that we have. They don't want it to end because they can't stand their lives, because they have all this trauma and pain. I would basically you know we have this NDMA therapy, this new thing, going on. We basically do that with each other in a non-clinical setting.

Speaker 1:

How old are you at that? 18 to 20?

Speaker 2:

The first time I did NDMA I was 15 or 16.

Speaker 1:

I think I was 16, I think and this drug, its effects, which I've taken a lot of it increases every sense, is, you know, experienced about 20-fold and there is this more predominant draw and magnetism towards more pleasurable experiences in the sense of connection. The mundane is novel scratching your leg, walking the breeze, any sensory, it's just an overload. At this point it's not frightening for most people and you're getting to experience this. And this drug is used clinically now and it, you know, in a multitude of states for PTSD and you said, trauma. I don't think most people who don't have this addiction understand, just from its first glance, is that there is a bond between addicts and people who have been broken and it usually you can find these people from two to seven, where people think most trouble can happen and they can. There's, there's, there's another groups, there's, there's bars. I've, I've, you know, I've been going to a long time and that's what was happened from two to seven, when the lights went out, there were a bunch of people connecting and the best way they could have broken, would you say this was your first experience of feeling like you could tell your story and connect with people. Was this honesty for you? Most definitely.

Speaker 2:

That's like the biggest thing of MDMA in particular. I could, and the same with all my friends. We would talk about all this stuff that we would never talk about, we would be way too afraid to talk about. But you have such a sense of connection. You have such a sense of just openness and lovingness and, no matter what you say, you know the other person is going to say, oh, that's wonderful, yeah, there's no sense of judgment. It's not like cocaine.

Speaker 1:

They're not waiting to talk after you, no, you're connecting with people.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and like it's just so much love, just so much love, and especially for people who've had all the lived through all this pain. We don't experience love.

Speaker 1:

So you're getting reprieve a little bit, then, from what was initially the problem. It started long before marijuana, right? That's the kind of addiction you and I connect with and are talking about. Other addictions could rise in a multitude of ways, so we're talking about trauma-informed scenarios that addiction comes to cope with Addictions of sense, to cope with the pain. Well, how did this become untenable and when did you have to face some hard reality that this might, I, might not be able to maintain this lifestyle? How did that happen?

Speaker 2:

Well, that probably happened about the when I was 20, is when I went to my first raid. I'd gone to like more like like everywhere they have like EDM and stuff like that and it's like rave type things, but in the US I don't. I know a lot of people don't know the full concept of what I mean. When I mean rave, I mean techno, and techno is something that is it's like a community like of broken people with drug addiction. So the first techno club actually went to believe it or not? Some people might not believe this. I believe that it's all me, but it's Bergen and Berlin and it is the most. It's marketed as the most exclusive, biggest, craziest techno club in the world.

Speaker 1:

And just to put a like kind of a note here techno is, if I'm not mistaken is essentially derived from Germany, like industrial music.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Like I don't mean to like it comes to mind as Ramstein for people and they just did this tour, but I mean pre Ramstein. Like this is late 80s.

Speaker 2:

There was techno kind of had its birth in Berlin, right, yeah, berlin is the home place of techno and I remember going into Berg I mean waiting in line for four hours and we and we were deathly afraid we weren't going to get in. First people in line were telling us oh, you guys are definitely going in. You guys look like totally the part it's only like 30 to 40% of the people in. And then they found out that we were 19 and 20, my friend was 19, I was 20. They were like oh, you guys are not going to get in, it's 21 plus. And like they check IDs because it was COVID, so they had to check your QR code for the vaccination, all that stuff. And I was like fuck it, we're like an hour wave in the line, like we can't leave now. We got to try and we got to try to get in. They let us in and when I came in there, my mind was blown. Like first you come into the changing area and you just see all these people undressing because it's like cold Germany, it was like December, and all these people are undressing because like it's very queer, sexual, so like people were getting like almost naked or they're putting on these weird outfits.

Speaker 1:

Is there a distinction? Is this a gay club or is this just? It doesn't. It's not even branded as like it just it used to be a gay club.

Speaker 2:

Now it's a queer club. What's the difference? Well, gay is usually referred to as just like same sex. Queer is just like an umbrella term for everything bisexual, pansexual, trans, everything. Just learned something new, I thought I knew what the moniker was SoORday I'm having some physical issues and I get people often being bitter about their. I get in there and this is a building. This is a three-story building with two huge stages, hallways everywhere and literally people having sex. There's like a dark room where it's just a major orgy and people are just randomly having sex. People are dancing everywhere. Extremely respectful, don't get me wrong. Like only consensual.

Speaker 1:

There's an etiquette to sex clubs.

Speaker 2:

There's a huge etiquette Like girls walk around topless but you don't see dudes staring like crazy or groping women, Like if you do that, you're gonna get your ass kicked and you're gonna get kicked out.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I watched a special on modern sex etiquette was on HBO.

Speaker 2:

And the cool thing about the techno was so like all these people are broken. They're all weirdos, all misfits just like me and there's just such a sense of loving because everyone is on hard drugs. Everyone almost no one drinks and people might drink like a beer here and there, whatever, but almost everyone's doing speed. Ghb, mdma, ketamine those are the big drugs.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they're trauma drugs in the sense of ketamine. It's unique and especially trauma. I'm not throwing shade on the unity of a sex club, but to finally have this opportunity to be open, voyeuristic of sex or community of sex. It's hard to see a line of your value comes from sex and to see the connection happen at this club. There's no clubs like this you experienced prior to that. How about that?

Speaker 2:

No, I've been to many clubs in Holland. It's nothing like that. I just blew your hair right back, blew me away. And there are like clubs in Holland in the center that market themselves as techno clubs, but they're not nearly like that type of techno. Then I found out that in Holland we have clubs that are almost the exact same as Burgine, which are like in the outskirts of Amsterdam, secret environment yeah, they're not even that secret, but there's not talks about that much in regular circles. And then I started going there. That's when it really ramped up my problem.

Speaker 1:

COVID drew a couple of those clubs out from, not mistaken, some British parliament and a bunch of people when the lockdowns were at their height. And then hypocrisy is spilling all out everywhere. People are having garden parties and it'd be politicians that were on TV that night saying you know, make sure you don't invite your family over for Thanksgiving. Wherever you're split on this. But one of the first scandalous kind of groups getting together breaking the COVID lockdown was a bunch of politicians in a techno sex club.

Speaker 2:

Really, yeah, really.

Speaker 1:

I'll have to look at the article when.

Speaker 2:

I was slapping my ass off. But you know, the funny thing is like in Berlin they were super safe about it. You had to get tested the same day for COVID and you had to be vaccinated and every club checked with religious. What about?

Speaker 1:

STDs. Like how are they screening? Like what is the open policy? Yeah, so it's two mutual people agree that they're gonna have sexual activity in the open club.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but like people always think, like these sex clubs are one big orgy, they really not. Like people will be having sex, like in Burgen, for example, they have like these cubicles in the wall. They're like these little, like just cubes that are cut into the wall where it's like some people have sex Most people have sex in a dark room downstairs and for the rest, like people are, they don't even touch each other unconditionally, like Well how many would you say out of that tire populace Say there's, you know, this club could probably fit.

Speaker 1:

I mean well over a thousand people I would assume three flocks. How many of them are strangers meeting, or is there familiarity between the partners?

Speaker 2:

So a lot of times strangers.

Speaker 1:

Strangers yeah.

Speaker 2:

But like, once you get in a scene, like a club like Bergen is gonna have a lot of strangers. But like, for example, my favorite club in Holland was a Radion and a Radion like the funnest thing about the Radion was the backstage. So you have this backstage area and it's like this locked door and supposedly it's only allowed for like people who are together with, like the people who are performing, like the DJs.

Speaker 1:

But in a Friends and family, friends and family. The funny thing about the.

Speaker 2:

Radion is you can just knock on the door and waltz in there if you play it right. I figured that out in my first time. I went there like someone took me backstage. You found the role to play the cool character, exactly. And I realized that if you fake it until you make it, you can just always hang out there and it's like a chicken coop. People are just like. It's just like crazy amounts of drugs in like this little area and they're like 20 people.

Speaker 1:

So Duncan, this just had to consume. You know I don't wanna overstep my balance, but this had to consume your sense of joy, community and you know, at some point, you see, can this life be tenable for everyone? There you see someone. They're 60 to. They've been doing this 30 years. Is this something I just incorporate? This is it for life? But there's a failed truth in that too. Like that leads to understanding. Maybe addiction, be it sex, drugs, whatever it is, the proximity of the club, I'm only okay at the club. Or now I have five days of regular life. I'm waiting for Thursday, because most of these places, I would assume, are Thursday, friday, saturday. So the rest of the week is this pining and this just mad dash of getting through the drudgery, the free of life to get back to the reward center of the club. I mean, this is, this is untenable and eventually it's gonna lead to some serious suffering.

Speaker 2:

Right, absolute dread, yeah, that's, but that's the thing. Like people are okay with that, because people usually binge from Monday until, or from Thursday until Monday. Like I would not sleep from Thursday until Monday most of the times, or maybe catch like a couple of hours you're in there and then like Thursday night I won't do any amphetamines, I'll get some sleep and then the next day, but overall people don't get any sleep and then they'll feel terrible, terrible. This is absolutely awful, but they'll be all right with it, because personally I would always smoke a lot of weed. But you have this, you have this longing. You're gonna be at the techno club in a weekend anyway, so what?

Speaker 1:

does it matter? It's what I do with cigarettes.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's what I do and like the thing is like it worked for, like I built my life around this stuff perfectly. I worked at a nightclub. I didn't work at a techno club, I worked at just a regular club, also at techno sometimes, but it was just in the center and I could show up there after being awake for two days and just keep on snorkeling speed on the bathroom. I was a great. I was still. I was a bartender. I was still a great bartender. Everyone loved me and my boss was like. He also did drugs. All the time he didn't care as long as I didn't tell him about it and like after work he wouldn't mind. He'd be like, yeah, yeah, just doing it through a during work. But he knew he was a stupid yeah.

Speaker 1:

How did this come to an end?

Speaker 2:

Well, this came to an end. My name was basically just. Every week it was the same deal, and I was living with my dad and my dad knew this was happening, but he didn't want to kick me out or do that because he just knew that was only gonna make my problem way worse. If he would have kicked me out, I would have literally become a huge junk, like I was already a junkie, but I would have become something. The distress would increase exponentially. Yeah, I don't know what I would become, but it would be really, really bad.

Speaker 1:

Well, it sounds organically like not everyone has that experience. Some people experience some love. Your dad loves you very much. Yeah, and way too much. Well, approaches are approaches and it seems like his worked. And how would you describe that happening that ended up? You're on a plane to America.

Speaker 2:

Yep. So I was a little reluctant to go come here for the program. But I knew I had a problem. I knew and I had a lot of times where I was like, okay, this weekend I'm not gonna use. And it was just always always. Always for that first drink I was just like, okay, well, now I'm gonna. Now this is all out. I was just gonna go binge again and then I don't sleep again and it's just a cycle and I couldn't end it on my own. I knew that. So I was like I'll give it a shot. First I was like I'm only gonna stay for a month, I don't know Like stuff like that. And then and then, when I came here, my idea was that I was gonna get better, I was gonna go back and I could successfully use. I could use like a normal person, Could just do a little bit of speed here and there, or like do Adderall instead of like street speed, Occasionally ecstasy. But it didn't turn out that way, of course, Because I found a new way of life. It was hard yeah, it's hard adjusting. I didn't go to primary treatment. Drugs I was doing didn't have much of a physical detox Sure, Not like heroin there's an emotional one.

Speaker 1:

There's an emotional one. There's an idea of your sense of joy. Yeah, depression Now being measured to a height that most people don't experience these drugs ever experience and now you're gonna match up what the rest of your life is gonna have to find somewhere below this marker. Yeah, you struggle with that for a while until you realize there's all a bunch of lies in there and life does balance out.

Speaker 2:

It is because now I'm six months sober. Yeah, you are, and Like the funny thing is, I was telling you about this earlier today. Like right now, I have like a mindset of I just don't even a mindset, it just comes to me like I am literally high. Like a lot of times I feel like I am literally on amphetamines and I don't know what it is, but it's you just quit smoking.

Speaker 1:

You got a better energy.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly I quit smoking, like recently, so maybe that's it, but so.

Speaker 1:

Duncan, you are living in Scranton, yeah, and I don't think people see this that are from Scranton, or friends where people I'm close with I've seen this for decades now and it's going to become more substantial A really creative and talented guy like you and I want to talk about what you're about to do here Comes here and finds recovery, finds a real community that isn't just serving platitudes. You have real friends, non superficial.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and you connect and do connections.

Speaker 1:

This happens and your talents brought here. Now you're living in Scranton, your entrepreneurial spirit kind of woke up, which runs deep in your blood. Definitely for you know well, over a hundred years, one could say, which is an interesting story you should come back and tell one day. He comes from a long line of industrialists, from his American line, the Maxwell's. Yeah, duncan is going to start a business and put his shop here that is Designing high end purses. This was produced. Within six months of your recovery, you found a home and a job and a fulfilled sense that you thought wasn't going to get fulfilled, this sense of community, that is a really heightened sense of community. We just talked about MDMA. You know orgies that could last three days and now you're Scranton. That's, that's phenomenal. Like you saved your life.

Speaker 2:

I know it's been saved. It's incredible and I'm honestly loving it, like I've never felt better in my life than recently. It's insane and I struggle sometimes. I still struggle with things and I just they just those problems just disappear within a few days, when sometimes, if they're small problems, they'll disappear within an hour. Yeah, and I feel like I found like this superpower and because I've always wanted to become a person that is like just enjoys life, and I wanted to be my son, superficial, but I wanted to be successful. I wanted to be high achieving, high performing, and I was always into like self improvement. I was always into like productivity, stuff like that, and I couldn't just never do it until I realized that maybe it was because I was always getting high and my brain was always out of whack, like no wonder I couldn't design, or I could only design for like one day out of two weeks, or I could only play guitar when I was on speed Stuff, like that's just so much inconsistency. And now I feel like every day I have an abundant amount of energy, like I used to exercise too in my addiction because I was a very superficial person. Still, I'm a little superficial and looks like that. I like, I like looking at your style.

Speaker 1:

You got style, man Someone's better. You have style in this plan. It's going to be awful.

Speaker 2:

But I would exercise. I was thinking about this today when I was walking back from the gym. I'd exercise and I would just dread it. I was just doing it. I was like I need to look good, I need to look good, but I was dreaded it. It was so. It was physically painful because I was at so little energy and a lot of times I would be high when I was doing it and take like a bump on speed, and I don't have that anymore. No, now I'm starting to glide through life and it's incredible that this has happened in six months. It's just. It blows my mind.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's rapid and it's real because I've got to know you over the last six months and I'm really excited to see what happens in the next six months from your business venture that's about to hear and plan itself and screen.

Speaker 2:

September and supposed to launch.

Speaker 1:

This is. This is a direct result of. I'm glad you ended up here because we have a really good recovery community and I want to have you back six months and pick up. This conversation Sounds good. That's a deal, deal, all right, duncan. Duncan Maxwell.

Speaker 2:

Thank you.

Speaker 1:

I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of All Better. To find us on all better, or listen to us on Apple podcasts, spotify, google podcast Stitcher, I heart radio and Alexa. Special thanks to our producer, john Edwards, and engineering company 570 drone. Please like or subscribe to us on YouTube, facebook, instagram or Twitter and, if you're not, on social media, you're awesome. Looking forward to seeing you again. And remember, just because you're sober doesn't mean you're right.

Duncan Maxwell's Unique Recovery Journey
Trauma's Impact, Finding Identity
Marijuana and Substance Use Impact Exploration
Exploring the Techno Club Culture
Finding Recovery and Fulfillment in Scranton