The “you’re still acting like an addict” line

Anybody ever tell you this shit? I had it a few months ago…

Here’s the thing… If you’re clean for years, and somebody tells you that you’re “still acting like an addict” when you’re not, it should be a huge red flag. I’ll spare you the details of the situation I had because it isn’t important. But what is important is that it’s a con. It manipulation. Maybe gaslighting.

It could be that you’re passionate about something, or angry, or maybe you just like to eat lots of a particular type of food, but someone comes along, normally selling something or maybe they’re even some kind of therapist, and they tell you you’re still acting like an addict. And they can fix things in your life. For a fee.

Don’t buy it, folks. The fact is, there are people who will take advantage of you, even in recovery. And the “you’re still behaving like an addict” is a clever trick if you’re not wise to it.

It’s so easy to forget, so here are some facts to remind me of who I was and how far gone I was…

  • I was not being responsible. Paying the rent, the car, taking care of my responsibilities… I didn’t do any of those things, unless I absolutely had to, and even then, sometimes I didn’t.
  • I didn’t know what day it was, most of the time.
  • I started the day with the last of the meth from the night before, went to work, then came back and got more meth. So my day revolved around meth. My purpose in life was to be high, to remain high, or to get high. There was nothing else.
  • Everything was about my personal pleasure. The meth high and any other pleasure seeking to go with it, especially sex, but not limited to sex. Everything was about my pleasure, so get high and fuck, or get high and watch a movie, or get high and read a book, or get high and eat a whole spicy chicken – washing it down with 2 litres of Coke, but all that mattered was pleasure, and mixing various things I enjoyed because they were pleasurable.
  • Nothing else mattered and nobody else mattered.
  • My job was just a job, it’s only purpose to get money so I could get more meth.
  • I had no social media presence. Fuck, no presence in real life either. I interacted with other people only to use them for my pleasure, or to get money for pleasure, or to have my girlfriend rob them so that I could convince myself that it was her who was bad, not me.
  • To summarize: The only thing that mattered was being high and feeling pleasure, and everything else was merely a vehicle to get me there.

So, if someone tells me I’m still acting like an addict because I’m passionate about atheism, or writing, or I’m angry about some shit that they said… such a person needs to go fuck themselves. They have no fucking idea what I was like when I was an addict. Honestly I’d rather not remind myself and the whole world here either, but sometimes it is necessary. Next month I’ll be seven years clean. I’ll try to write something a little more optimistic then.

The bottom line… If you have years of sobriety and some twat tries to manipulate you by claiming you’re still acting like an addict – think. What is their game? People will use and abuse you and not everybody who acts like they’re there to help you really is.

Cocaine is cool in memes and it’s a conversation no one is having

Somebody is making apple pie and the smell carried to our flat. My son, who is now twelve years old, announced, “I can smell cocaine.” So we had to have that conversation again. It’s OK, he knows what coke is and he knows it’s only cool in memes, but it still concerns me.

I’m on Facebook mainly for the memes. They’re a pleasant escape from reality, whether they be echo chamber jokes for the groups we find ourselves in, or political statements. Or the increasingly common cocaine memes.

I don’t have much more of a point to this… it’s just something that needs to be said. Cocaine is cool in memeland and that is something that more of us need to be concerned about. Children are on TikTok, Instagram, and I don’t know what else… Memes are a global phenomenon that we (well generation X for sure) didn’t have, but they sure do now. And children all over the world are learning what’s cool and what isn’t in a way that many of us never did.

Back in late 2009 when I went to rehab, in Natal at the other end of this small country I grew up in, although I was there for meth, nearly everyone else was in for cocaine, either powder or crack cocaine. So this culture where cocaine is cool is something to be concerned about.

Speak to your kids… It’s important to understand how their views are formed, and how much they “learn” from memes. At the very least, if they have this “cocaine is cool” attitude, it’s time they learn that memes aren’t always the best source of knowledge.

Update: I can’t emphasize this enough… We’re a long long way from beating addiction if children are growing up with a subconscious suggestion that cocaine is acceptable and pleasurable before they are even old enough to be exposed to it directly.

My using dreams have evolved and it amuses me a little

In the first couple of years clean, I loathed those dreams. I was afraid of writing about them, as if admitting that I had the dreams was some kind of dark revelation that deep down I really still wanted to use meth. But that has changed, along with the nature of the dreams themselves.

This is the form they used to take:

  1. I find myself somewhere with a meth pipe and lots of meth, believing I have already used.
  2. I’m looking for a place to use, but somehow it just works out that I can’t. It’s the whole purpose of the dream, but the dream doesn’t allow it to happen.

There were two main drives in those dreams:

  • Dealing with the feelings of guilt because I believed that I had already used, both at the start and the end of the dream, where on waking I’d worry that I might relapse.
  • Trying to find a chance to use but the frustration of not being able to.

Those dreams are now rare. I had one last night, but it was also the only one so far this year, and it follows a new pattern:

  1. I find myself somewhere with a meth pipe and lots of meth, believing I have already used. (So far it’s the same.)
  2. I use. I take hit after hit, but there is no high, no rush, no euphoria. There is nothing.
  3. I become lucid, realizing it is only a dream. Then I either wake up or drift off and dream about something else.

The feelings of guilt are still there at the start of the dream, but I am no longer worried about using at the end. I know I won’t and don’t want to. It’s almost as if my mind allows me to use in the dream because it’s OK to deal with that now, because I know I don’t want to use for real. It’s just a random thing I used to do in the past, a dream activity like any other, just noise that doesn’t mean anything. But what my mind won’t allow is for me to feel high. I find that part amusing. Surely my brain “knows” how to feel high? Surely those drug memories are there? But for some reason, my subconscious mind refuses to let me feel it. It’s one step further than dreaming I want to use but can’t though.

Actually the lucidity thing is a problem I have in general when dreaming. Sometimes I’ll have an amazing dream, where my brain does a brilliant job of worldbuilding and I become lucid and think to myself I need to remember this as it would make a great book or short story. But I don’t remember it because my lucidity doesn’t last for long and I don’t wake all the way up. The next day, all I can remember is that there was a dream I wanted to remember, but the details are lost.

I don’t believe dreams have any meaning. They’re just noise, a collection of random experiences our minds put us through while we rest. Using dreams for someone who used to use drugs are normal and nothing to worry about. That’s my point for this post… If you’re a former addict and you dream about using drugs, don’t worry about it or impose any meaning on it. Dreams are just dreams.

Mind you, I will add this caveat: The dreams themselves mean nothing, but how you feel about using is important. It has to be. If you really want to use, you have a problem that needs to be dealt with. I’ve been very fortunate in the last (almost) seven years, because I have never once wanted to use. Before this, I used to deal with my desire to use meth by using meth. After the first two weeks clean, I have not craved in these years, not even once. So if you do want to use, I can’t advise you on what to do, because nothing I tried back then worked for me. I guess I’m lucky that way. But if you do feel like you want to use, you need to get help from a professional.

Just a reminder that recovery is possible

Sometimes it feels strange to remember that I used to struggle with addiction. As the years pass, the reality of it fades and it all seems like a bad dream. All those years where I used meth night and day, where I could not imagine being clean, where I heard voices all the time, and where around eleven years ago I taunted an idiot into beating me to a bloody pulp, and went to sleep in a pool of my own blood in the hope that someone might care enough to take me to rehab – not that that narcissist necessarily cared for me but more likely I’d caused embarrassment to the family name – but fuck it anyway, it worked. It all feels so distant. And even then I still relapsed and used for three more years.

But now, unless I force myself to remember, I don’t. That person. That guy. I vaguely remember him and it isn’t even a first person recollection anymore. Fuck him anyway, the fucking fool. He didn’t know how lucky he was to be able to live through it and become me, but he’s gone and I’m glad.

Today I read a post on Facebook by a friend in the US, who admitted to struggling with heroin addiction for most of her adult life, and conceded to getting clean again. My heart aches for her, because I was once like her and yet I can’t remember it clearly anymore. It’s a memory of a memory of that other guy who in a way, died in that pool of blood back in 2009.

So I just want to remind her, and people like her, that recovery is possible. That monster that you are, that you hate… doesn’t have to win. And you don’t need a belief in god or a twelve step program or any other kind of magical thinking. You just need to want it, to want normality and all those things you lost through addiction, want to stop hating yourself and stop being ashamed. You need to reach that point where enough is enough and fuck everybody who doesn’t believe in you because they don’t matter anyway. You can be clean and you can have a life. It won’t be easy, but it will be better.

Stupid search strings–Does meth make you telepathic?

No. Not only does meth not make you telepathic, but also telepathy isn’t real.

It does make you hear voices though. The voices are only in your head, and are a type of drug-induced hallucination… unless of course, you think you’re telepathic, in which case you are delusional. Welcome to the possibility of psychosis; then you can join the other idiots who comment to this post claiming that meth voices are real…

The hear voices link above takes you to all of my posts tagged with meth voices. Take them as a sign to stop using meth, if you’re not too far gone to follow sensible advice.

When I first wrote about hearing voices, it was for two reasons: Firstly, to attempt to express the horror I experienced while hearing them; and secondly to try deter others from using meth. I assumed that anyone who experienced it for themselves would, like me, be afraid of the voices becoming permanent, and take those first steps to stop using meth. Sadly it turned out this assumption was naïve. It often isn’t enough, and sometimes meth users who find these posts are too far gone to stop, having already succumbed to their delusions and reached a point where there really is no coming back. I’m hoping that you, the reader, is not one of those. I’m hoping you can stop before it is too late and I sincerely urge you to do so. We don’t necessarily get sobriety right on the first attempt (It took two attempts for me), but you need to try.

Edit: I’m aware that this post seems to contradict my previous one about the legalization of drugs. I’d like to expand on this note in another post, but don’t have time to write another one just yet…

Stupid search strings (they don’t get much stupider than this)

Once again… this is one of those posts where I respond to a search string that brought a reader here. This one is short. I’m only bothering with one of these…
image

ways to counter negative crystal meth effects

  1. Don’t use crystal meth.

There. That was simple enough. Seriously, if you’re wondering “How to counter negative side-effects of shooting myself in the foot?”, you need to consider maybe not shooting yourself in the foot.

 

Magical thinking is dangerous, especially now

I guess on some level I’ve always been aware of magical thinking. What I didn’t know was how widespread it is. I first noticed someone whose beliefs were unusually aggressive when I was in school, standard 4 (grade 6 as they call it now), with a teacher, Mr Barnett, who would somehow include the words “Lord Jesus” at least twice in every sentence. I thought he was whacked in the head, and he no doubt was a little off-kilter, but no more so than many others whose extreme beliefs are less in-your-face.

It was a few years before when I’d learned the Bible stories from the Old Testament, and I realized then that people used to ascribe natural disasters to an angry god, a god who would punish the people for their wrongdoings unless they repented. I grew up being taught those things as if they were true, but never believed them, and assumed (incorrectly) that everybody else also didn’t believe them. (Because obvious nonsense is obvious.)

Then, years later, having messed up quite seriously and become addicted to crystal meth, I entered into “recovery” with unfortunate naivete, expecting addiction treatment to be evidence based. (It isn’t.) There I found that addiction treatment is in fact based entirely on a religious foundation, filled with platitudes and magical thinking. It took me four years altogether to find my own way of staying clean and sober, one that works for me and does not involve those ridiculous 12 steps of woo.

But now, we are facing COVID-19, a virus still mutating, one for which there is no cure, where we are infectious but asymptomatic for 14 days, a virus that is killing people and potentially on par in terms of fatalities with the Biblical plagues. This is a time when we all need to take the necessary precautions, but instead of that happening, we have religious people fucking it all up for the rest of us.

There are people sharing misinformation and conspiracy theories about the disease; people sharing prayers and claiming that their faith will protect them – it doesn’t work like that, for fuck’s sake! Inhaling the contaminated air that an infected person exhaled is all you need, and the easiest way for that to happen, the most effective way of spreading the virus, is large gatherings, crowds, in confined spaces. This is a problem particularly because you can have massive viral loads and be highly infectious while asymptomatic. Yet many religious leaders are refusing to back down and encouraging their believers to carry on as usual. This is, of course, a reckless and irresponsible abuse of their authority (for a change?), considering that believers trust them.

Meanwhile, we also have people who blame every disaster, including this virus, on minority groups who make easy victims for them, such as same sex couples or transgender people, claiming that their god is angry with those people. It seems we have not moved on at all since the OT, and collectively we remain driven by this dangerous magical thinking.

Why, oh why… would you believe that this god created the entire universe, but has a problem with what members of one particular species of great ape do with their gonads? It is absurd that people believe this. But they do. We are a race of fucking idiots.

 

 

 

 

 

In the cold light of morning

A strange thought occurred to me this morning.

I was driving, having stopped in the front at a traffic light. It changed to green, and since I didn’t immediately pull forward, the person behind me hooted in those 400 milliseconds or so of my hesitation (one of my pet hates by the way). It didn’t really worry me but as I pulled away, I remembered how differently this would have been several years ago when I used meth.

I cannot emphasize enough how horrible it was driving to work in those years. I’d shower and change for work, not having slept the night before – sometimes several nights before, then have a last few hits of meth to “wake up” and drive to work.

The drive to work thus served two objectives:

  1. Get to work. (Obviously)
  2. Get the edge off. (i.e. lose the worst immediate effects of the meth high)

Objective number two didn’t always work, and even when it did work, that drive while extremely high, anxious, paranoid, and depending on how many days I’d been awake, on one hell of a downer, was highly unpleasant. You can be high and on a downer at the same time. You can be out of your mind high and depressed from a downer simultaneously. And that’s how I usually was in the morning, so high I’d sometimes forget sections of roads I drove every day, overly anxious and paranoid, and prone to bursting into tears because the meth downer is brutal. I’d also be  paranoid to the extent that sometimes I’d think I was being followed, and someone hooting at me would have put me into a manic panic.

One of my favourite bands is Placebo, and one day, having bought their album Meds, it reached track 12 (track name used for the title of this post) for the first time. The song described my life exactly, and I burst into tears while driving. It didn’t help that track 13, A song to say goodbye, was in my mind a song about giving up on somebody who had ruined their lives with drugs. I took that one personally too.

I still love both of those songs, especially In the cold light of morning. But fuck those years, I never want to feel those feelings again.

 

 

The endless search

I just saw this on social media and it made me literally laugh out loud, but not at the joke, at a memory of something that wasn’t funny at all back then.

Searching

For about the first five years after I quit meth, I refused to search for anything, ever, for more than a minute or so. “If I don’t find it right away, I give up,” I’d say. “It’s gone.” It used to drive my ex nuts but I didn’t care. These days I have more patience and will search for maybe two minutes…

In fact, for a while I had two ID documents, because I thought I’d lost it and would rather go to the department of Home Affairs and sit in a queue for three hours and order a new one than search through my apartment. Of course I did eventually find the original by accident. (I only have one now because one of them was in my car when it was stolen last year.)

For once, I’m not going to explain why… This post is for the other former meth heads. If you too were addicted to meth, you know why I loathe searching for anything.