This is one of those subjects often raised by internet search strings, although I have not written about it on this blog before.
Is there a legal alternative to meth?
No, there isn’t. There may be legal ways of getting prescription amphetamines in some countries, for example countries that treat ADHD using meth, but I presume that isn’t what you want. (It shouldn’t be.)
The longer answer
For the longer answer, I need to write an anecdote. Way back towards the start of my addiction, at less than a year into meth use (around 2005 or 2006 – I’m no longer certain), I realized that I was in deep trouble. I realized that my dependence on meth left me unable to stay awake at work without it. This put me in a precarious position where I was left with two choices:
- Don’t use during the day, and try to struggle at work while being unable to stay awake.
- Use during the day (in the morning before going to work, or at lunch time if I went home for lunch – I never took drugs to work with me), and then suffer the consequences of the drug affecting my work performance.
Neither of those works out terribly well, especially in a profession like mine (software development) that takes a reasonable IQ to begin with. You don’t write good code when you’re high… Well, you might, but not consistently, especially not after being awake for several days at a time. And you don’t do much of anything if you’re sleeping, or nodding off constantly.
So the solution in my mind was of course to quit using meth, but that left me unable to stay awake. I went to my family doctor, and told him of my situation. Let’s ignore the ethical questions that arise; ignore that my doctor should have tried his best to get me some help. (Instead he explained to me that meth exaggerates users’ problems, so “It’s good for business”. Arsehole. To this day, I do not regret that I stopped paying his bills.) I explained that I needed something to keep me awake, something legal instead of meth, so he prescribed Provigil, which is a kind of narcolepsy medication.
To make a long story short, it didn’t work. That medication does indeed keep you awake, but it did not counteract the effects of sleep deprivation from my methamphetamine abuse, even though I hadn’t been using for very long at that point. I did tell somebody at work about it though, and even though I wasn’t using meth for those two days, he told everybody “Jerome is on speed”. And I didn’t have that job for much longer. In retrospect, the right thing to do, when I realized I had a problem, was go to my employers and tell them the truth. Maybe they would have helped me.
But that’s not what I did. I also realized something else, something that Provigil didn’t do for me, and I went right back onto meth. In the end I opted for option two from my list above… use during the day and work while high. It was the “solution” for several years, until my life fell apart and I really couldn’t use any more.
What else did I realize? Provigil did not make me feel the way I wanted to feel. I wasn’t addicted to meth giving me energy, because that’s not what it does. It made me feel good, and it made me tweak, which is just another name for the psychological condition known as perseveration. It left me feeling euphorically happy, and allowed me to obsess over whatever tasks I was busy with, for hours, in fact many days after I should have slept. Provigil doesn’t do that. It keeps you awake, but it doesn’t give you a high.
The fact that it doesn’t give you a high is the key here. If you search for a legal alternative to meth, you probably don’t understand what the drug is doing to you. You don’t know the difference between having energy and being high. The meth high is nothing like having energy. As long as you fail to understand that, you have no chance of being clean and enjoying your life without meth, because you don’t want to be clean. When you search for a legal alternative to meth, you do so because you want a meth high without using meth, and that is not achievable.
And in any case, after three or four days, you can stay awake perfectly well without meth. It doesn’t have any long term physical effects. That isn’t the problem. You could even quit on a Friday and be fine by the Monday… maybe with several cups of coffee to help get through the working day. (That’s almost exactly what I did in the end. I took my last hit late on September 4th 2013, a Wednesday. Because I had been using as much as a couple of grams every day, I was OK at work on the Thursday. I was awake anyway. Even after sleeping the Wednesday night because my tolerance was so high at the end, I could sleep right after using, I was normal and functional the following day. The cumulative effects of sleep deprivation didn’t hit me until the Friday, which was a disaster. Then I slept for most of that weekend. By the Monday, I was fine, apart from being moody.) The problem is that you are psychologically dependent on being high on meth, on tweaking. No legal drug can give you that, and even if you find a legal drug that can keep you awake and alert, as I did, you will reject it because that’s not what you want. You just don’t know that.
You probably don’t believe me. You probably still think that meth gives you energy. But here’s the twist: You already know that it doesn’t. You have no doubt seen someone else who uses meth, and noticed how delayed they are, how they are “busy” for hours while tweaking and yet achieve little to nothing. That’s how you look when you think you have energy from meth. It’s easy to see that others have a problem with the drug, and easy to see what it does to them, but not so easy to see what it does to yourself. But if you can, if you can realize what you are doing to yourself, then you can realize that you need neither meth nor a legal “alternative” to it. And there is no such thing as a legal alternative to meth anyway.
Of course, if you do make that realization, and do understand that you shouldn’t be looking for a legal alternative to meth, you ought to know that the real problem is to get over the psychological addiction – the fact that you just want to tweak. That’s the difficult part, and I can’t tell you how to do that, mostly because I’m not sure when or how I got over it. But at some point I did, so all I can say that I know for sure is that it is possible.