The financial cost of meth addiction?

I lack the time to write as much or as often as I used to, but someone shared this on Facebook and it got me thinking… It’s an article where addicts were asked how much their habits cost them. I can’t let this subject go without writing something…

Wow… I don’t even know how much mine cost me. I can’t say how much it cost altogether, or even on average, because it did vary over the years. But at the end, up to around September 2013, I was buying from a dealer who ripped me off for R400 a packet. I don’t know how much a packet contained… probably around one gram. I usually bought two packets a day, but sometimes only one, and very rarely up to four packets. Yes, I used a lot of meth. No amount was ever enough.

If I take R800 a day as a best guess of the average, assuming 30 days in a month, that’s R24 000 a month. That’s a shitload. How did I even get that right? (It is worthwhile mentioning that I didn’t use that much in the years prior to 2013. That’s the last year I used, and my usage had reached an all time high, more than double what I had used before then, thanks to a jump in salary from one job to the next. So the cost was less in the years before then, but the point is the same… the consequence of the cost of neglecting other financial obligations was the accumulation of long-term debt.)

Computer programmers do earn well in South Africa, but even so, in 2013 my salary after tax was a little more than R30 000 per month, so spending that much on drugs was more than stretching my budget beyond reason… I didn’t turn to crime, or sell anything I owned… It was more like a juggling act. Buy for a few thousand from one dealer, then get credit… then abuse the hell out of that credit. Pay back several thousand at the end of the month, and start the cycle again. Add another dealer. There were the odd days, of course, when I went without, but the debt added up. My car was almost repossessed twice.

Between all the meth madness and debt, somehow being on it increased all my other addictions, which included cigarettes, coffee, chocolates (as many as three to four chocolates every day), Nandos chicken for some reason, and loads of Kit Kat ice cream. I once washed down a whole chicken with 2 litres of Coca Cola, ate my family portion of chips, and saved the two burgers for breakfast. And I don’t know why, but Kit Kat ice cream was heaven in my mouth when I was high. I could eat a whole container of it in one go as well. (Hmmm. No need for hyperbole here. It wasn’t one sitting, but it was one afternoon, and I did it several times.) Also yoghurt… I’d finish a large tub of yoghurt in one extended gulp. Unlike most meth addicts, in my last two years of using, I actually steadily gained weight, because my food addiction was almost as serious as my meth addiction. I loved the fact that I could eat as much as I wanted and stay thin, to such an extent that I managed even overdoing that… like everything else. (I have gained far more since, of course… eating like a pig when you aren’t using a central nervous system stimulant adds weight rather rapidly.)

Side note: I don’t know how common gluttony and meth addiction go hand in hand. When I used to attend meetings, I didn’t hear of others who over-indulged in food while using meth. I did meet others who were tolerant of the drug in terms of not losing their appetite, like myself, but my case went a bit past tolerance. Like, if tolerance was a line in the sand, I used it to launch a long jump from that line. I became accustomed to eating far more than normal… You know you ain’t normal when you start numbering your meals. Breakfast 1… breakfast 2, lunch numbers 1 to 2, sometimes 3… And I ate between meals. What can I say? I love to eat. I still love to eat. (And that is still a problem.)

It is strange to think just how much money I wasted on my addiction. It’s like thinking of a completely different person, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that I was somehow a different person then. But I wasn’t. That was me, just me, going to wild extremes of excess, neglecting all of my responsibilities and being limited only by how much money I could earn or borrow. It’s important to me to be cognisant of the fact that I was not a different person. Meth doesn’t do that – it doesn’t turn you into a monster or a different person. What it does, is exaggerate your worst qualities, but those character traits are always there. (Off the topic of today’s post, but this is why I don’t buy it as an excuse for somebody who commits crimes or other despicable acts under the influence. Being high does not excuse you from the responsibility of your actions. Anyone who is a monster on meth is most probably a monster anyway.) I’m not prone to wild excess anymore, but I always keep my natural inclination to overdo everything and be a glutton in the back of my mind, and I’m still paying some of those debts… not the direct ones to drug dealers of course, but the indirect ones to my credit card, my overdraft, and the car repayments of a car I haven’t had for years. And there may still be physical debts too, some other long term harm and a price to pay that I haven’t discovered yet…

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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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2 Responses to The financial cost of meth addiction?

  1. I’m not sure if it is the drug or more the amplification of negative traits. I was the same way with nicotine. No such thing as “controlled use” for me, on days off I was the vaping equivalent of a chain smoker. I have self-control/ gluttony issues sober, but my excessive use of nicotine seemed to amplify it. I actually gained weight during my use despite the fact that nicotine is an appetite suppressant. I mean maybe for a person that listens to those cues in their body, but not me. Food is my ultimate addiction. I’m still working on it.

    One of my theories I that giving into using nicotine, I relaxed my “self-control” to the point where I wasn’t paying attention to anything else.

    My second theory, is that I was using food when nicotine failed to ‘satisfy’, whether it be I was in withdrawal, but unable to vape or where I vaped to the point of almost sickness.

    Interesting post…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      I was thinking about this some more last night, but struggle to put this into words…

      Meth addiction, and whether it was the drug or addiction itself, I don’t know – did definitely get me to remove the throttle, and overdo everything. So it amplified the worst side of me, and sent me on a path where everything in my life was about the pursuit of pleasure, whether it was the direct pleasure by taking a hit of meth, or eating food, desserts and so on, or sex, it was always all about my own fulfilment.

      I’ve even noticed it in someone else’s comment here… I forget on which post, where they try to justify their use of meth. That person could write well and coherently, but was unable to see that the drug completely altered their priorities, and that their whole life was about their own selfish pleasure, probably at the peril of everyone else in their life.

      I also made that same mistake in my addiction… I thought that I was doing OK because I was still clever, still performing well enough at work, and still able to read and learn (mostly programming stuff). But I didn’t realize what awful side-effects my pleasure-seeking had.

      This also brings something else to my mind: The stereotypes people associate with addicts, which they get from TV and movies.

      The stereotypes associated with addicts were something I loved and hated, because people think that addicts especially meth addicts, are idiots… and that isn’t the case at all. Even my brother recently made comments about me being “bombed out of my mind” in those days. (And those comments are simply hurtful. They’re a way of dismissing my view and my memories because they disagree with him, and he always tries to make himself look better than me, for reasons I do not understand.) The truth is, the stereotype was something I loved because people would not see through me because I was not in any way as they expected a meth addict to be. I was still intelligent and could perform well at work. Whereas in early recovery, and still now to a lesser extent, I hate those same stereotypes. Every time I see a meme about people being stupid on meth it drives me nuts, because such memes are far removed from reality. It does make one careless though, which is probably why people who get up to crazy schemes and commit crimes… always get caught.

      Liked by 1 person

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