Do you still hear meth voices after you stop using meth?

I see that somebody searched for this (“hearing meth voices after stopping meth”), so it’s worth writing briefly about it…

It depends what you mean by “after stopping meth”. I can say from personal experience that I stopped using meth many times, but usually only for a few hours or a couple of days. And even when I stopped for good and knew that I was finished with the drug, I referred to myself as clean on the same day that I took my last hit. But it doesn’t work like that. Just because you’ve decided to be clean doesn’t mean that you are clean – it doesn’t make all the side-effects go away.

Although the meth high only lasts a few hours (and meth is only present in your bloodstream for a few hours), the half-life of the substance in your body is much longer, which is why the drug can still be detected in your urine up to six or seven days after you stop using it. It can be detected in other ways, such as you hair and nails, for months after you stop using. It stands to reason that if the drug can still be detected, there are also effects of it that linger after that initial high, after that part that you remember. You already know this: You can see the effects of the drug on your weight, on your skin, in those dark rings around your eyes. Of course there is also damage that you can’t see, which takes a while to be repaired.

So it makes sense that the side-effects of the drug don’t disappear immediately, especially if you consider yourself “clean” while you are still very much under the influence of the drug. (And by the way, every addict who uses daily is under the influence of the drug all the time, even when they don’t think that they are. After you stop using the drug, you’re technically still under the influence for a couple of days.)

There is damage done to your midbrain, and it takes some time for your brain to recover. I don’t know how long it takes altogether, but I do know that for me, my moods were not normal until about three or four months after I stopped using. I also didn’t feel the effects of stopping meth immediately. One day after I stopped using, I still felt “normal” and didn’t sleep. Only after another day did I reach the point where I crashed, because I was dependent on the drug to stay awake. Since I didn’t go to rehab but carried on working, I had a few tough days at work, drinking a lot of coffee and taking plenty of breaks where I splashed water on my face, mostly to no avail. It took about three days altogether for the voices to stop. I don’t remember exactly how long, but at some point I realized that they were gone. So don’t expect the voices to disappear just because you stopped. It takes a few days.


Bear in  mind that I’ve combined a few different times I stopped using above because it makes describing the situation easier… If you want accuracy…When I first attempted recovery, at the end I was hearing voices all the time. That time I did go to rehab, and slept most of the time for about two days, after which I joined the others there in their group activities, although for two more days I was mostly out of it. I was quite unable to stay awake. And it also took about three days for the voices to disappear.

I don’t know the exact cause of the voices… I don’t know if it is directly because of the drugs, or if it is a consequence of the combination of prolonged sleep deprivation as well as the drugs. But when I quit the drugs for good in September 2013, I was fortunate in that I wasn’t hearing voices then. I’d been using every day, and sleeping an hour or two every night (thanks to extreme tolerance for the drug). In fact, the day I quit, I went straight to sleep right after using and then destroying all my drug paraphernalia. That is, I could even sleep while high on meth. I felt awful and confused most of the time then, living my life in a drug-fueled haze, but heard no voices. I quit on a Thursday and went to work on the Friday, without any drugs. And I was OK at work. Then I slept most of that weekend, and by Monday I was able to perform reasonably well at work. I’ve never looked back.

(But honestly, I don’t know why quitting was relatively easy the last time. But I generally consider all the times I tried to quit when describing cleaning up as difficult, because all the other times were difficult. All except the last time, and I don’t know why. Maybe the difficulty and being unable to stay awake is purely psychological? Maybe it’s just the addict trying to make excuses to get more drugs? Maybe because I’d made peace with the fact that I would not use again that last time, that made it easier? I don’t know and I don’t need to know any more.) Though on previous occasions when I quit (temporarily) I did hear voices up until about three days after cleaning up. My longest clean time (before this past two years and a bit) was nine months, and when I relapsed, the voices returned in a matter of weeks, which tells me that whatever damage had been done, had not been completely repaired in those nine months clean. (After all, I used for about three years originally before hearing voices.)

So rest assured, the voices do stop. But if you don’t want them to return, you can never use meth again. It’s the only way.

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About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
This entry was posted in Addiction, Methamphetamine, Recovery and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Do you still hear meth voices after you stop using meth?

  1. Cynthia says:

    Jerome, thank you for sharing your story with the world. It’s very brave but much more than that, your sharing is compassionate for those of us who “still suffer”. I started hearing voices when I got into meth heavily but I had paranoid tendencies before that – after my father died when I was about 12 years old. That trauma plus others along the course of my life, coupled with my determination to “feel better” (meth is the world’s greatest antidepressant, according to a shrink I used to see) my heavy meth use over the course of 20 years caused me to hear voices that plague me even after putting it down in May 2015. There’s no guarantee they will ever leave me alone (go away). Sadly my children have to deal with my “psychosis” and I know how very difficult it must be for them. I may have opened a gate that can never be closed, as a psychologist once told me. Another example of how meth can steal a life is, my (ex) boyfriend who used to be 200 lbs, muscles like he lifted weights but didn’t, is now laying in a hospital bed unable to move anything but his head and his left arm a little. He has an NG tube to feed him and his muscles are all atrophied. He cannot speak but a few simple words. He’s down to about 150 lbs now. His dilemma started last May (this is why I got clean) when he called me with speech very very slurred, I thought he’d had a stroke. It was SPINAL MENINGITIS – which is something else meth can cause, something a lot of people (professionals as well as addicts) aren’t aware of! From there apparently he had a major stroke (or two?) which put him in the vegetable like state he’s in now. We were not bad people, we were good addicts. Meth won the battle in my mind and in my b.f.’s body. Both of us are living in our own separate hells now.
    Here are two very good examples of what meth can do to a life, I pray no one has to find out for themselves or think “it’s not going to happen” to them…
    Please pass along this message to those who might be thinking of using or trying to quit. I hope no one has to go through what I’ve had to live in my hell in my mind for the past 20 years, or the way my b.f. ended up. It’s not right that a drug of all things can do this to anyone.
    Last night I relapsed, after almost 10 months of clean time off that shit. I can’t believe I allowed voices in my head to make me react the way I did and just say “Fuck it”. It could have been my last “Fuck it” ever and my kids wouldn’t have their mother in their lives anymore.
    Now you know why I’m so grateful to have stumbled upon your blog and read a little, enough to put me back in the right place even though the voices are still messing with me relentlessly.

    Take care and God bless. (Don’t worry, I won’t AMEN you LOL)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      Thank you for your comment.

      I’m sorry to hear about how bad it has been for you.

      I’d always assumed that the voices were the same for everybody – that they stop a couple of days after you stop using meth. But now I see I was wrong.

      Btw, I haven’t written my personal story this time around. The first time I attempted recovery, I had lost my car, my house, everything… and even my child was staying with my brother and his wife. I was living in an empty room behind an abandoned house. There was no hot water and I had no towel, so I used to shower with cold water every morning and then dry myself with a facecloth that I’d wring out over and over. After I caught my girlfriend with the dealer who lived there, she ended up sleeping with him in a bed in the same room in front of me. To get someone to actually give a fuck about getting me into rehab, the only choice I could see was to taunt the guy… provoke him into beating me up, at which point she asked him if he was OK, because the smell of my blood in the room was so strong, it was overpowering and he was throwing up. Meanwhile I was gashed above my right eye, and my left cheek was cut so badly next to my lip, almost right through making a hole in the side of my face. I went to sleep on my mattress on the floor, shifting my face to the edge so that most of the blood pouring out of my mouth and eye would end up on the floor rather than on the mattress, because it made the mattress really wet and uncomfortable… At least with it gushing onto the floor, I could manage to fall into some kind of sleep.

      So that is how I remember the end of my drug using story… lying naked in a pool of my own blood, denied everything – even unconsciousness. (Though I did relapse and use again, this is the end of my story that I prefer to tell. Second time around it didn’t end so badly because I didn’t allow it to get to that point again.)

      After that, my brother helped me and took me to a rehab. Then after 9 months clean, I still went back to using, and used for nearly three years before cleaning up for good. So your relapse is not the end of the world. What I’m trying to say is: Don’t give up! Fuck the rest of the world, but you can find the strength to prove to yourself that you are stronger than that chemical, that you can beat it.

      Like

    • Jerome says:

      I have shared your message in a post. I hope you read my comment and find the post too. I do sympathise with your plight, and wish you could have a normal life again without the voices. (Oh, how I hated those voices.)

      But don’t give up hope. I believe the human brain is more resilient than we think… If you stay clean long enough, the damage can be undone, and maybe the voices will fade. Twenty years is a lot of damage to repair, but maybe two or three years clean is all you need.

      Like

  2. Ricardo Torres says:

    Jerome,

    I’m going through an addiction to meth right now. I smoked this morning. The voices in my head become more and more real. The voices are strong and very deceitful. Every little task I try to complete becomes a dramatic movie. It’s hard to cope and am decided to quit completely. I’m also a very skeptical Atheist, and pride myself on my awareness, knowledge, logic, and reason to guide me, but it is now invaded. The sounds, the praises, the pleads, the cries, the screams, the threats, the promises, the pressure to hurry up or slow down, I’m being chastised and told to do things and believe things, I’m being deceived easily by voices and sounds that are supposedly directed towards me

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      Yes, that’s the way it is. And until you come down a bit, those voices seem real. I never wrote about them while hearing them because I was afraid of how crazy it would sound when they “felt” real. Well stated, and good luck.

      Like

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