Don’t give up. Meth addiction doesn’t have to defeat you.

Yesterday I read a comment from someone who read my post about meth voices after you stop using meth. So I was wrong… I’d always assumed that the voices disappear for everybody after a couple of days clean, just like they did for me. But I’d forgotten about a man I met who ran a sober house that I stayed in at the start of 2010, just after my stint in rehab. He was in a psychiatric ward for six months after cleaning up. So maybe I was lucky… for some people, the voices continue even after you are clean. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. You are stronger than the drug.

The comment, and hopefully my reply too, make for compelling reading, so I’ll let them speak for themselves. Here’s her comment:

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)

And my reply:

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.

So there you have it. Meth took me to a living hell quickly, in about five years. Maybe in a way that was a good thing… I often wonder… If it hadn’t gotten so bad so quickly, might I still have been using? Maybe I would’ve used for twenty years rather than just around eight, and maybe the effects would’ve been permanent. Let this be a warning to anybody who thinks they can use without consequences… And remember, as bad as my situation described in my comment above was… I had it easy compared to some people.

What I would like people who are not addicts to take out of this is: Addicts are not bad people. They are not like the stereotypical junkies you see in movies and on TV. Good, decent people can get sucked into addiction. The woman who commented is a good person, a religious person. She is somebody’s daughter, somebody’s mother, and she never wanted to be an addict. She just wanted something to feel better when she was down, and she found it in meth. But meth addiction is a slippery slope to a living hell, and she found that too… A living hell that is almost impossible to escape – since by the time you reach it, you are totally dependent on the drug, and no longer know how to live without it. (This last bit is probably too much for most people to understand, but once you are in that cycle of addiction, no matter how bad it is and no matter that the drug is then the cause of all your problems, escaping that cycle is more than difficult – it’s almost impossible. It doesn’t help that once you do escape the cycle, you find yourselves in programs based on nonsense like the 12 steps, but that is not my focus of this post.)

I hope it’s not too late for her though… and my message to her and anybody who identifies with either her current situation, or my past situation, is this: Don’t give up! Just don’t…

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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.
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