If ever a recovering addict tells you they "still use occasionally", they probably use all the time

Yeah, I’m totally projecting on this one, because that’s what I did. I’m not proud.

I’ve always been a person who hates to lie, which led to some awkward situations a few years ago. I’d been clean for just over nine months when I relapsed near the end of 2010. And then I continued to use meth until the day I cleaned up for real in September 2013. In those three years, I felt that I had to lie, because like every addict, I believed that I needed my drug and convinced myself that I couldn’t stop but had to lie to protect my habit. I was high every day, high but mostly functional except for the year 2011 – a year that in retrospect was nothing but one long fuck-up. (It was the only time I broke my one and only rule that I had in the years of addiction, “Do not use at work”. I hated that job, hated everything about it.) And in those three years, I felt that I needed to lie, except sometimes… And that included writing my old blog while I was high. (A blog you can no longer see because it is no longer public, though I may republish an old post on the odd occasion. Trust me, it’s better this way.)

But I feel most guilty about the job I had in 2012. I went to work for a company called Piggs Peak, an online casino that has since closed down. I went to the first interview high, as always, because that’s how I approached job interviews then. Well, job interviews and everything else. But I did particularly well in interviews, even programming tests, while high on meth. False confidence and real talent is one hell of a combination.

Then things got strange. I celebrated my interview that had gone so well I figured I had the job, by using all night, more than my usual amount, and most nights I used about two grams. Then at just after 11AM the next morning, I received a phone call from the recruiter who’d organized the interview. She was concerned, and so were they. She’d found my blog, and spoken to a previous employer, and found out about my meth addiction history. It wouldn’t normally have been a big deal, except I was crazy high, like itchy and scratchy and fidgety so I can’t sit still for two seconds high, and they wanted me for a second interview by 12PM, in less than an hour. I was in no state to do an interview. Hell, normally I would not dare drive around the block or go buy a loaf of bread in that state, but I had no choice.

So I did what I had to do – I used another half gram of meth, and drove to the interview. There I did my best to sit still, and spoke at length about how I had cleaned up three months before, and how dedicated I was to working for them. Having been coached by the recruiter, my objective was to put them at ease, and somehow my objective was achieved, even though I was so high I was on that edge madness I’d grown accustomed to, a line I developed some skill at dancing over and crossing back from time to time, each dance feeling like maybe I might not return. Everything I said was bullshit, but they believed it. I got the job.

I worked there and did well enough, but in that year I danced over that line for months on end, living with voices in my head day and night, and even learning to cope by controlling them at times, which took the paranoia away briefly. But I was conflicted, being somebody who ordinarily never lied – while lying about my drug habit. So when there were people I trusted, I told the truth. So I told a smoking buddy on a smoke break that I “still used occasionally”, which was my euphemism for every fucking day. A stupid thing to do. I don’t know who she told, but it must have come out. So eventually everybody knew, but they turned a blind eye to it, because I did my job well.

There was one highly embarrassing moment there that stands out in my memory. We all sat down at the board table, and the announcement was made that the budget they had set aside for trying to target offshore gambling (there was an unfair court case against them preventing them operating in the country) had been exceeded, and the decision had been made to close down. I was on a downer, and could not hold back my tears. I bawled my fucking eyes out. To be honest, I am a little more emotional than stereotypical guys are “supposed to be” and I’m not sorry, but on meth I was an emotional basket case while coming down.

It gets to me when I think about those people, who, if ever they remember me, they think not of this me but of the addict me. In their minds I will always be that lying arsehole that I was. And there’s nothing I can do about it. There’s one person in particular I feel bad about lying to, Dia who was my immediate manager… actually the marketing manager but my development was mostly for her. She was so sweet and so naive about meth, and when I think back to that interview, deceiving her gets to me. “I need the job and I can’t stop”, I told myself. But that was a lie too, and I didn’t need to deceive anyone like that. Is it silly that these lies that get to me, when no harm was done there? I actually did fine at work and they gave me a generous severance package when the company closed down. So this isn’t about guilt at any harm done, but rather just what those people thought of me, and the actual act of deceiving them in the first place leaves me with these feelings of guilt.

Ironically this does not apply to the company owner. I bumped into him a few times after I was clean, and he made it clear he could see that I was clean. But the irony is this… back when I worked for him, he offered to give me money, a lot of money to sort out my debt and all my financial issues. I turned him down. I had to, because I knew I’d just spend the money on meth, which was unfair to him. So now I can kick myself because had I been clean, all my financial worries could have been over years ago. I could’ve started on a clean slate, but that didn’t happen.

Anyway, if ever a “recovering addict” tells you that they still use occasionally, they’re probably full of shit as I was. Meth addicts don’t use occasionally in my experience. They either use all the time, or they quit and don’t use at all. There is no in between.

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