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Episode Info: Leon Knoops has been an Outreach Worker, Researcher, and Trainer at the Mainline Foundation since 2006. He has focused his efforts on important research in Amsterdam’s gay and bisexual men and their connection to crystal meth.    Sjef Pelsser is also an Outreach Worker at the Mainline Foundation and uses his own experience within the worldwide chemsex scene to talk openly about this topic and share his account of what’s happening right now in the Netherlands.    TAKEAWAYS:  [2:40] What is Mainline Foundation’s International mission? [3:20] Leon and Sjef share their personal experiences with the chemsex scene and explain why their Chemsex Project is so important to Mainline’s mission.   [7:05] The chemsex scene is relatively new in Amsterdam. Leon spent time interviewing gay men who had experience with crystal meth, which most of them would take in a private setting (not at parties). However, it was in 2014-2015 where Leon really saw a lot of these individuals lose control and become addicted. [11:15] Not too long ago it was really difficult to find crystal meth due to the difficulty of transporting it, but this is now becoming less and less true. They still do not know which European country it originates from.  [12:45] the Netherlands is known to be a more sexually liberal country, but according to Leon and Sjef the dynamic is changing and the Dutch are not as tolerant as they claim to be.  [17:50] Leon and Sjef currently lead an anonymous support group for those seeking more information and are looking to recover. The biggest thing is to just listen to their stories and pass no judgment on what they’ve been through.  [22:40] Why do men experience a relapse in their recovery journey? It’s difficult finding a partner who wants to have sex without the use of drugs or a party lifestyle. They are lonely and isolated because they feel like their social circle will shame them.  [25:00] Where would Leon and Sjef like to be in five years?    RESOURCES: Leon on LinkedIn   QUOTES:  “Research from 2018 shows that 85% of the Dutch population accept gay men, but when you start to talk about two gay men holding hands/kissing, 1 in 3 Dutch find it disgusting.”  “When guys show up to the support group for the first time, we are only listening and asking questions. They become so relieved.”  “In this relapse context, most of the time it’s about loneliness and when you’re lonely, it is very easy to connect with someone via gay apps.”  “If the guys ask for help, we can easily get in touch with a professional and it’s a very important and new way to get people the help.” ...
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