Yes, using meth leads directly to voices in your head.

Every so often I see more search strings that lead people here as they try to find out if meth is causing the voices in their heads. It is. My most popular post on the subject is this one. Intended to describe how the voices start with audio pareidolia, the post goes a little further than just that. I suggest you read it as well as the comments, but also, I’d like to add some info around that subject today.

I like to think of myself as a rational, reasonable person, so before I first used meth, I researched it. At that time, around 2005, I didn’t find anything about it causing voices. That’s a pity. Maybe I’d have been sensible enough not to start if I had known. Anyway…

  • Not everybody who uses meth will hear voices, but you have no way of knowing for sure if they do…
  • Not everybody who hears voices knows they hear voices. Some people are oblivious or get delusional right away.
  • When they first start, the voices come and go, but the more you continue to use meth, the more they come and the less they go. Eventually you will hear them all the time.
  • If you don’t stop using meth soon enough, the voices can be permanent. They eventually will not stop even if you quit the meth. That’s why it’s really important to realize that the voices are a sign that your drug problem is serious, and that you need to stop before it’s too late. I can’t emphasize this enough… If you hear voices that aren’t really there, it means that something is going wrong in your brain. This is something to take seriously.
  • You can cope with the voices by controlling them to a limited extent. For example, if you’re paranoid and the voices are saying bad things about you, you can make them say nice things about you. I don’t recommend this and I’ll explain why further on.

If you read the linked post and the comments, you’ll notice that there are a lot of “me too” kind of comments from people who have experienced similar voices. That post has taken on a life of its own in the comments and I’ve left commenting on because it really shows how serious the problem is. There are also people who have lost the plot a long time ago, people who tell you the voices are from god, or demons, or government mind control, or whatever they believe in their psychosis. There are also loved ones of addicts who explain how they have tried to help but to no avail. And there are people who have stopped using meth but still hear voices.

The only time I recommend finding ways of coping with the voices is when you have already stopped using meth, but the voices are permanent. In that case, there are things like a “hearing voices network”. I don’t know where in the world they are and what they do. I know only that they exist. Good luck to you.

But if you’re still using meth, and hearing voices, quitting meth is the only thing to do. I don’t recommend controlling the voices, and here’s why…

The human brain is terrible at multitasking. Multitasking as we know it is a myth. For example, imagine that I have two programming tasks at work. They’re different projects. One is a WCF service written in C#, that uses XML. The other is a Node.js project in JavaScript, using lots of AJAX and JSON. To switch between them, I have to remember the difference between the programming languages used, what frameworks and API’s are involved, what the names of methods, variables and so on is, where to set breakpoints, how each program flows, what features or bugs I am looking at, and so on. Every time I switch tasks, I also have to switch context, and that takes time. The more tasks you have or the more often you switch between them, the more context switches your brain must perform, because you can only focus on one task that takes concentration and effort at a time. The reason you get nothing done if you have too many tasks to work on, is that you end up spending more time switching context than you spend working on the tasks themselves.

Coping with voices in your head is the same. You use your conscious mind to cope with them, whether it is to control and “listen” to them or some other technique. Every time you do so, you effectively context switch to an internal mental task. You disengage from the real world, from everybody and everything around you, and focus on this internal pointless task. Since you hear voices all the time, this means you spend most of the time disengaged from the world. From the point of view of everyone around you, you are doing nothing. You’re zoned out and staring into space, like a zombie. (This is on top of the already numerous symptoms you display from using meth. Pupils dilated, tense and grinding your teeth or cracking your jaw, twitchy, edgy, itchy, irritable, confused, either moody or abnormally and noticeably cheerful and silly, probably not talking too much because you have tolerance for the drug but still probably unable to sit still – or the opposite and not moving at all but focused single mindedly on a single and repetitive task, and so on.) You really do stick out like a sore thumb when using meth. It’s not the paranoia – people really do know something is wrong as you draw attention to yourself. They might not know what it is but they do know something is not OK.

Even if you don’t try to cope with the voices, you will end up “listening” to them, thinking about what they say – it doesn’t matter that you know the voices aren’t real. Hearing them leads to responding to them, directly or indirectly. Even trying to ignore them requires conscious mental effort, and as you hear them more and more while you continue using meth, you further disconnect with the world around you. The longer you go on doing this, the more often you forget that the voices aren’t real. (Sometimes it’s impossible to tell the difference. For example, I’d become paranoid and convinced that everyone I worked with was aware of my drug use. I’d hear them talking about me from elsewhere in the office. I’d hear it in their actual voices, as if from various distances and directions. “Voices in your head” does not suitably describe what you think you hear.) Eventually you will lose yourself in delusions and psychosis.

So this is my advice to anyone hearing voices from using meth: First stop using meth, and then, if the voices don’t stop after two or three days, seek mental help.


Obviously I’m oversimplifying here when I write “first stop using meth”. It’s not so easy, but then not losing your mind is one hell of an incentive to stop. It was for me.

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Mind control isn’t real because nobody cares about you, among other reasons.

Recently there were some comments on this blog (starting here) asserting that mind control is a thing because meth addicts are tuned in to the government frequencies (or something)… Don’t pay attention to the original comment too much as I’m more interested in those by the person who replied to him, who believes in those things even though she knows meth voices are only in her head. (Edit: This post isn’t directed specifically at that commenter. It’s for anyone who believes in mind control and other conspiracies about the “elites”.)

Here’s the thing… The “elites” are not who you think they are. They’re just people born rich. Depressingly, that’s the way it goes these days. The Middle Class is falling away as the cost of living increases. The poor stay poor, most of us are joining them, and the rich get richer because money makes more money. Most of us will never be rich, no matter how hard or how many hours we work. Those exceptions you hold up, like Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates… are just exceptions. They got lucky.

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Rich countries are rich because in the past, colonialism was a thing. They stole gold and other resources from poor countries. That’s why the British royal family is rich. That’s why they have those famous jewels; because they stole the minerals from Africa. Almost everybody who is rich, is so because their ancestors ripped off poor people. And almost the only people who will get richer are those who are already rich. With few exceptions, the only time elected officials (who got there because of their background being rich people) care that you exist at all, is when they are making promises pandering to your needs so that you can elect them.

So, if you believe in mind control by the elites, I have to ask… What would be the point?

They don’t need to control you. You are not an issue. Your circumstances, the circumstances of your birth, already put you in your place. You don’t matter. This applies to ordinary people, almost all of them. I’m not even considering the tweakers who may or may not think the voices and other sounds in their heads are real.

Why in the sweet fuck would anyone care what a tweaker does? Whether you’re tweaking on making a plan to get your next hit, or making the perfect case for your meth pipe, or finding the perfect hidey hole for packets of meth in your car, or rearranging your fucking socks, nobody gives a fuck about you. What would be the purpose of controlling you? To see how long it takes on average for tweakers to hide under the bed? Get a fucking grip.

I can see how conspiracy theories like the ones about chemtrails and other mind control conspiracies might be comforting. If the conspiracy were true, it would make you important. If someone were calling the shots and controlling you, even if that someone was evil incarnate, it would mean someone cared that you exist. It would mean that you matter. But you don’t. At least, not to those so-called elites. They’re just rich people, and they’re doing whatever rich people do, without even the shortest fleeting thought about people like you and me. So pull your head out of your ass and get on with life in the real world. Focus on what is real and what does matter, not your conspiratorial fantasies.

On drugs, we adjust and it becomes our new “normal”

There’s probably a psychological term for what I’m thinking of, but I wouldn’t know what it is. Anyway, recently I was reading an interview with the former bassist from New Order – I forget his name and it isn’t important anyway. He had published a book, and during the interview, he mentioned how much he loved using all the drugs he’d used, and went so far as to compare them to each other. When you reach that point, when you find it perfectly reasonable to tell anybody why you love using crack and how it’s better than other drugs, it’s fair to say that you have lost touch with reality.

But I saw the same thing in other people, and even in myself years ago. I went from someone who never used hard drugs at all, and didn’t even know where to find them until my mid thirties, to someone who used methamphetamine every day. And somewhere along the way, it became normal. That’s how it works psychologically. When you cross a line and do something new, even if that thing is abhorrent to you, with repeated behaviour you get used to it, and eventually it is normal to you. Almost everybody I knew also used meth, and lived with addiction as an everyday thing.

One day I realized what had happened, and tried to see how it had happened. I could not. However, it turned out that among my “friends”, this insight was unusual. Most of the people I knew who were also addicts, were not self aware. Meth made them paranoid and self conscious, but it did not wake them up to the fact that what they were doing and the way they were living was not normal. And in many cases, many people… I daresay most meth addicts, will never realize what has happened to them. Most addicts, in my opinion, will never get to the point of admitting they have a problem. And that’s sad.

I remember a woman named Tracy, from when I lived in Muizenberg. One day we were talking, and this was right after my girlfriend left the house, and she told me about her child. Tracy was a little younger than me (I think), in her mid thirties at the time. She mentioned her child, a child that was removed about 16 years before, who she had never seen again. And she was OK with it, preferring her life using meth and seeming not to care about what she had lost. She told me this right before she asked me “Do you want to cum?”. At least she didn’t get weird when I turned her down. Tracey is one of those people who will never stop using meth, because for her it is normal.

Likewise, people on meth get used to hearing voices. I remember when it first happened to me – the first time I heard a voice clearly. I’d gone through a long period of hearing muffled sounds that seemed vaguely like voices that I’d hear during loud ambient noise, like wind or rain. But one day, it progressed to something more. I’d said something stupid, something that embarrassed me, to my girlfriend, right before she walked out the house (with another guy and my money to get more drugs)… And the moment I was alone, which must have been ten seconds after I said (whatever it was – I have long since forgotten), I heard my words and my own voice echo back at me. It was frightening. I sat there in shock, “listening” to my own voice mocking me for the next hour.

After that it progressed… and I heard lots of different voices for a few years until I stopped using meth. But as it was when I first heard them, I always knew they were in my head. It never became normal for me, and I never asked Google and random blogs why or if meth made me hear voices, as so many sad people do. Those are the wrong questions, and I saw it as being quite simply this: I heard voices because I used meth.

But not everybody knows they’re using voices. Remember this one I wrote about a while back… He thinks he hears EVP, and uploads recordings he made in his cupboard onto SoundCloud. That guy will never recover. He is too far gone and probably lost touch with reality a long time ago.

Why am I writing this? I’m not too sure as it just came to me when I had a headache and couldn’t fall asleep last night… But it seems to me that as positive as I normally am about recovery and how easy it’s been for me, the dismal reality is that most meth addicts will never even attempt to clean up. Most of them. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you are using meth, you need to realize what you are doing to yourself, and know how important it is to stop before it is too late and you become one of those people who are lost to meth addiction.


Edit… I just read the comments to this blog, and there was one this past weekend by a reader named Adam, thanking me for my insight. It’s great to get feedback like this, and it makes the process of writing about it worthwhile. With no feedback, all I have is the page views to tell me if anyone actually likes what I write, so I really do appreciate your feedback.

It’s worth pointing out that people like Adam are not the ones I’m referring to who are lost. If you’re struggling, you’re more like I used to be. You’re self aware. You know you have a problem. You might still end up one of the casualties who are lost forever to the drug, but you do have a chance, and I hope you’ll end up clean and happy just like me. The people I’m thinking of are those unfortunate majority who never struggle and never stop, but just use until they die.

I didn’t know true horror until I heard voices in my head.

I’ve written about meth voices before. Unfortunately this blog’s most popular post is on that subject. But I don’t think I managed to express just how scary those voices can be.

I’ve always been into horror, and yesterday I saw this cheesy meme:

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That’s cheesy as all fuck. But imagine hearing voices like that for real…

Although I only started hearing voices all the time after using meth for a couple of years, there was one exception to this – one occasion when I heard a voice early on and didn’t know what it was.

It was 2005. I’d been using for less than a year. Not even much… typically I’d have a quarter gram last two days then and I’d limit myself to using between 7 and 8PM so that I could sleep.

So I laid down to sleep, at around 11PM. And just before I was able to drift off, a woman’s voice spoke directly into my ear, “Hello”. That was it. Just hello. This was before I became a skeptic and fully accepted that I was an atheist. I’d always believed in the supernatural, and “seen” ghosts as a child. (I’m not getting into that now. Just accept that it was sleep paralysis but I genuinely believed in those things.) It was bizarre in that the voice was clear. Crystal clear. (Pardon the stupid pun, but I didn’t know this was a side effect of the drug.) So I leaped out of bed and walked around the apartment, trying to get that feeling, trying to sense the “presence”.

But that time wasn’t so bad. It didn’t happen again for a long time. A year later, I met my girlfriend and we were happy for a while, and I forgot all about hearing voices.

Fast forward to 2012. She’d left me, and then come back, then left me, then come back again… It was a complicated mess and I’d lost count. At one stage she came back, and sat in the passenger seat of my car, waiting there while I went to job interviews.

Then I got the job, but by the time I started, she was gone again. I started this new job, but I was a basket case. My girlfriend, who I thought was the love of my life, had left me suddenly again. And here I was, in a new job where I could remember her sitting just outside in my car. Meanwhile she’d run off to Pakistan this time, with the other guy.

It wasn’t a good job. Everybody there was Afrikaans, except for me. They had this white Afrikaner culture thing going on, and made me feel like I didn’t belong there at any given opportunity. Plus the developer who was leaving, and whose place I was taking… disliked me. He kept asking trick questions about development just to try catching me out, while I refused to answer them even when I knew the answers, because meth didn’t leave me in the friendliest of moods.

But the voices were the worst. I’d be sitting in a room with three other people, but the meth left me in the same mood I’d be while sitting alone in the dark, in the middle of the night. So with people all around me, I’d hear her voice, whispering in my ear, “Jeroooome!” I fucking jumped, so startled was I. And it kept happening. I could not keep it together. I’d be this shaky mess all the time, trying to be functional, trying to look normal in front of the others at work; trying but not succeeding.

Then if I walked outside, to or from the car, I’d hear her calling me. Whispering, shouting, pleading, crying, begging me for help, and telling me she loved me.

Soon it wasn’t just her voice. I’d hear several voices, sometimes dozens. I heard voices all the time and if you can imagine that meme at the top of this post, imagine it in the context of a horror movie when it is scary and not cheesy, then multiply that scare factor by ten thousand. That’s how it feels to live with those voices, like you are inside a horror movie. And that was even though I knew the voices were not real. Many addicts don’t know. Imagine what it must be like for them.

And that, not knowing, is possibly what makes it so much worse. This is why I hate it when these posts get inundated with comments by people who think the voices are real. People who come up with coping mechanisms for the voices, who discover that they can change what the voices say, or who develop delusions and believe the voices are demons, or god. None of those things are real, and it makes me sad when I read those comments made by addicts who have lost their minds. Sad and maybe a little guilty. Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t end up like them, as much as I wish they could all end up seeing reality like me.

The voices in your head are not real

Recently, someone named Ryan commented this

 

(Not sure if the soundcloud embedded link is working with the editor I use. If it does not, use this link.)

I knew I wasn’t completely crazy because of this audio track. I felt what I could not hear. It’s specifically in contradiction with your article. It’s not for children.

That was in response to what is unfortunately the most popular post on this blog, one that I wrote a while ago about the way meth voices start with pareidolia.

I don’t know if Ryan and Spectre Inspector, who posted the clip to soundcloud, are one and the same, but the latter seems pretty far gone. (Edit: It is the same person.) His comments are mostly incoherent ramblings and he seems obsessed with some girl who looks “identical” to a girl from his delusions, and at one point he describes someone he heard singing – “I could not find the source, as best I could tell it came from the closet.”

Rather than writing it all over again… my reply to Ryan was this:

I don’t know what you think you heard, but thank you for making my point. This is exactly the kind of white noise, similar to loud wind and rain, that lends to you hearing voices when you’re on meth. Finding meaning in the meaningless when it is noise is like seeing rabbits (or jesus or whatever) in clouds.

It works similarly to the type of radio scanners and white noise generators used in so called ghost boxes (or spirit boxes). They (the deluded who believe in that) also have videos, and unless they add subtitles and you “hear” the same as other people thanks to the power of suggestion, no two people will ever hear the same voices.

So tell me, do you hear the same “voices” every time you listen to it?
I suspect not – rather the white noise creates a foundation, an audio “platform” on which you build your hallucinatory soundscape.

Thanks again. This is a perfect example of how meth voices start with pareidolia. But beware, because if you use meth long enough, you won’t need it any more. Eventually you’ll hear voices all the time.

I thought my argument was quite clear. Anyway, the Merriam-Webster definition for pareidolia is the following:

Definition of pareidolia. :the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. The scientific explanation for some people is pareidolia, or the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness. Think of the Rorschach inkblot test.

It’s worth adding that pareidolia can be auditory as well as visual. (Mentioned in this RationalWiki article.)

My original post described how the voices started for me, when I was high on meth and paranoid, after I had already been using a substantial amount daily for a couple of years. It started with auditory pareidolia, in that when there was a lot of ambient noise, such as rain, wind, a loud train that I was travelling on, and similar sounds, I’d hear faint sounds that appeared to be voices in the background. This progressed for me and after a few months, the voices became clear. Eventually I’d hear them all the time, without any noise required to stimulate my brain into “hearing” those patterns and finding meaning in the meaningless.

That was the entire point of the post! … that the voices start that way. I didn’t know that people out there actually sit around listening to white noise and intentionally search for meaning in the meaningless. I didn’t! And that is exactly what EVP is… People deluding themselves into “hearing” voices in white noise. It isn’t clear whether those people are simply extremist believers, psychotic, or under the influence of drugs like meth, but it is clear that whatever they think they hear is not real.

It saddens me that so many people have commented on that post, to say that the voices are real, and written details of the various delusions they have built up around the voices they “hear”. How come all your delusions are not exactly the same, lunatics? Huh huh huh???

For fuck’s sake people, if you hear voices that nobody else can hear, it is not logical to assume that you are special somehow and that there is meaning in those voices. Instead, logic tells you that something is going wrong in your brain, something causing you to hear voices that aren’t really there.

When that happened to me, it became frighteningly obvious that methamphetamine was doing serious harm to my brain. It became important to make a plan to stop using meth. And fortunately for me, the voices stopped as soon as I was clean for about two days. (I didn’t get sobriety right straight away, but every time I quit, that’s what happened.)

I’m not qualified to give advice to anyone who hears voices without using meth, but I can say that whatever you hear is not real. If you hear voices, it means that something is going wrong in your brain. Finding meaning in those voices is a path to psychosis, assuming you’re not psychotic already. The appropriate thing to do is to get help. An inappropriate thing to do is to go to the blog of someone who tries very hard to explain how dangerous those hallucinations are and how they start, and claiming that the voices are real. They are not. I’m always tempted to delete such comments, but maybe they do serve a purpose – they demonstrate how dangerous drugs like meth can be, as they damage your brain, and that damage might be permanent if you don’t do the sensible thing and try to get help when you realize that you’re hearing voices in your head. I can’t fucking believe I even have to explain this. It’s really quite simple: If you are hearing voices in your head, you have a problem.

I don’t know what else to say really… Is there any way I can get through to people like Ryan? Convince him that he needs help? If you reach the point where you are so convinced that the voices you hear are real, that you place a device in the closet to record them, and upload the tracks of nothing but static and background noise to the internet, maybe you’re lost… lost somewhere in your own head; lost in your delusions. Maybe there isn’t always a way back, not for all of us. And that’s sad. Despite my dark humour (using words like “lunatics” and so on), Ryan is not so different to me. He’s not stupid. He just followed the path his brain took him, his brain that has evolved like all of ours to recognize patterns and sometimes get it wrong. I knew several meth addicts who thought the voices were real, and some of them didn’t even know that they heard voices. Don’t be like Ryan. Get help before you lose your mind.

Another search about meth hallucinations

This one I’m not taking too seriously.
Someone asked via a web search that brought them here:

Why do you hear and see things on meth?

The short answer: Because meth fucks with your brain.

The not-so-short answer: Why do you need to know? That is, what difference does it make if you know the answer? Meth does that! Knowing the answer isn’t going to change anything, and if you continue to use meth, you will still live with the side-effects. Continue for long enough, and some of those side-effects (the voices) might become permanent. The short answer should really be enough… Knowing that meth is resulting in serious and unwelcome effects on your brain should be something that motivates you to stop using meth. (But it probably isn’t.) I’ve written about this subject before, and my best post on the subject is probably this one.

And now for a couple of silly anecdotes…

Although I suffered with severe auditory hallucinations (also known as voices in the head), I seldom experienced visual hallucinations. I’ll mention two of them.

One night, my girlfriend was away with her family. We’d had many dealings with a dealer (her ex) who was on the run from the police, because he had murdered someone. There was a vacant apartment across the road from us. When I looked out the window, I became convinced that every window there featured a man looking at me through binoculars. I imagined that it was the police, waiting for that guy to show up, and I became extremely paranoid and edgy. Of course it wasn’t real and she made me feel really stupid after she returned in the morning.

One day, I was driving on Prince George Drive in Cape Town. In my peripheral vision, I thought I saw the car to my left start to change into my lane, which would have caused an accident. So I made eye contact with the driver, and flipped him the finger as I swerved and accelerated away. He was an oldish colored man, I’d say in his early fifties, with a young girl sitting beside him. From the way she was dressed, this was not his daughter… And he became extremely angry, and gave chase. Fortunately he was not able to keep up. I was a driver who took great risks, driving too fast and dodging between the cars, and his car was a little old, so I lost sight of him quickly. It would have been less funny if things were otherwise.

In both of those cases, what I saw was not real. There were no men with binoculars at all, just some marks on a window across the road that the pattern-recognition part of my brain somehow interpreted as men watching me. There was no sideways movement of that car… Once again a little bit of movement in my peripheral vision triggered some kind of visual pareidolia, and on meth it became an hallucination. I learned to be more careful with responding to anything in my peripheral vision while on meth.

I’m making light of this, but hallucinations on meth should be taken seriously, especially the voices. Some visual hallucinations on meth, even when you have only recently started using, are normal. The voices are different. They start with pareidolia (as mentioned in the post I linked earlier), and then get worse over time. Once they start, they don’t stop until you stop using meth for good.

Meth voices: How little I know after all

I’ve written a few posts on this subject with good intentions, describing my own experiences on meth with regard to hearing voices, and given some advice about the voices.

My advice is always to stop using meth, and that advice won’t change. However, I feel that I do need to mention that your experiences on meth might not be the same as mine. I didn’t start hearing voices until after using meth for about three to four years. (I don’t remember exactly how long it took, but it was definitely more than two years.) Once I started hearing those voices, they progressed quickly. (As I mentioned here.) And every time I quit using meth, the voices disappeared within two to three days.

I always assumed that this was the same for everybody. But I was wrong. From recent search strings that brought other readers here, I have been able to deduce that for some people, the voices still continue even after as much as two years clean, while for others, the voices start within seven days of first using meth. I wish the latter had happened for me – maybe then I could have quit more easily before it got to the point where I didn’t know how to live without that drug. Unfortunately for me, I did get to that point after using every day for several years… the most difficult part of quitting was learning to live without that tweaking mental state, a psychological state that I had become accustomed to, to the point of wanting to be in that state all the time.

The effects of meth addiction are pernicious… But they can be worse than I thought. In my case, the onset of the worst side-effects were gradual, but from what I now know, it isn’t the case for everybody. And for me, those worst side-effects vanished much faster than they appeared. Likewise, that is not the case for everybody. So I don’t know how long it takes other addicts to start hearing voices, or how long it takes those voices to disappear after meth cessation. But it is logical to assume that the onset of the meth voices indicates some sort of threshold, a point where you cross a line and begin doing serious damage to your brain, damage that may even be permanent if you continue for long enough. It indicates a point where quitting meth should be your highest priority. (Pun unintended.)

I’m not qualified to advise anybody on what they should do if, even after two years clean, they still hear voices. That’s harsh… I don’t know what I would do then. Most probably, I’d be torn between trying to hide it (as I did when I was using) and trying to get psychiatric help. For me, when using and suffering the various side-effects of the drug, especially the ones which obviously involved damage to my brain, I was afraid to seek help, afraid that I might find out I was permanently brain-damaged. But what I can tell you is, it is surely better to seek help than to try hiding it. And who knows? Maybe there is medication that can help… Certainly the one thing you should not do in that situation is use again, and no doubt, it would have been best never to have used in the first place.

If you’re a meth addict and hear voices, you shouldn’t be trying to cope with them. You should do everything you can to stop using meth.

I’ve written several posts about hearing voices in your head. I won’t bother linking them – I’m sure you can find them.

The other day someone commented on one of them… The comment was mostly incoherent so I won’t quote it. It seemed to indicate that the commenter wasn’t taking the voices seriously, and had found a way of coping with them. Um, don’t do that. Just don’t.

I don’t know exactly what the voices are. I know that they start with pareidolia, and that the longer you continue to use meth after the voices start, the worse they get. It doesn’t matter if you know that they originate in your own head. It doesn’t matter if you know that they are not real.

No matter how well you think you can cope with them, when you do so, you withdraw from the real world and retreat into your own reality in your head. When you “listen” to them, you don’t focus on the people and social situations around you. Even if you think you are coping, over time you slowly lose more and more of your capacity to have normal, meaningful relationships with other people, including in a working environment.

My own situation came to a head my first time in active addiction, around 2009. I was trying to work as a software developer, while having to contact child welfare because my son was unsafe at home while I wasn’t there. So I had to struggle with that, with finding a way to ensure my son’s safety, with constant voices in my head. It was extremely difficult, because between trying to sort out my son’s safety and trying to do my work, I sometimes couldn’t tell the difference between hallucination and reality. I started to become delusional as I withdrew further and further from reality. Ultimately I lost my job, but at least that only happened after getting my son to safety, and after that other things happened that paved the way for my rehabilitation.

But trying to perform at work was a battle that I fought long and hard, and hated losing. (In a strange twist of fate, my never-give-up attitude counted against me then, because for a long time, I tried to “beat” the voices without quitting the drug. But that same attitude worked for me in recovery.) In the end it was impossible. I was hearing voices all the time, hearing voices through the walls even when nobody was there, hearing my colleagues talk about me and not knowing what was real and what wasn’t, and at the same time trying to focus on my work, writing good C# code following solid design patterns in a complex and abstract framework, all while being awake for up to around 11 days at a time.

As a developer, that meant dealing with other developers, testers, business analysts, a project manager, deadlines, and complex programming design decisions that I was no longer capable of, and the dreaded code reviews that became more frequent as my performance and behaviour became increasingly erratic. My job required both a high IQ and a sharp mind, and I was surrounded by equally (or more) intelligent people. And there I was most of time, staring off into space as I tried to cope with the voices in my head.

What I’m trying to say is, while you try to cope with the voices in your head, other people can see that you are obviously not normal. They might not know what is wrong, but they can see that something isn’t right. And eventually you will lose everything, just like I did. Only you might not be lucky enough to get it all back.

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…

Do you still hear meth voices after you stop using meth?

I see that somebody searched for this (“hearing meth voices after stopping meth”), so it’s worth writing briefly about it…

It depends what you mean by “after stopping meth”. I can say from personal experience that I stopped using meth many times, but usually only for a few hours or a couple of days. And even when I stopped for good and knew that I was finished with the drug, I referred to myself as clean on the same day that I took my last hit. But it doesn’t work like that. Just because you’ve decided to be clean doesn’t mean that you are clean – it doesn’t make all the side-effects go away.

Although the meth high only lasts a few hours (and meth is only present in your bloodstream for a few hours), the half-life of the substance in your body is much longer, which is why the drug can still be detected in your urine up to six or seven days after you stop using it. It can be detected in other ways, such as you hair and nails, for months after you stop using. It stands to reason that if the drug can still be detected, there are also effects of it that linger after that initial high, after that part that you remember. You already know this: You can see the effects of the drug on your weight, on your skin, in those dark rings around your eyes. Of course there is also damage that you can’t see, which takes a while to be repaired.

So it makes sense that the side-effects of the drug don’t disappear immediately, especially if you consider yourself “clean” while you are still very much under the influence of the drug. (And by the way, every addict who uses daily is under the influence of the drug all the time, even when they don’t think that they are. After you stop using the drug, you’re technically still under the influence for a couple of days.)

There is damage done to your midbrain, and it takes some time for your brain to recover. I don’t know how long it takes altogether, but I do know that for me, my moods were not normal until about three or four months after I stopped using. I also didn’t feel the effects of stopping meth immediately. One day after I stopped using, I still felt “normal” and didn’t sleep. Only after another day did I reach the point where I crashed, because I was dependent on the drug to stay awake. Since I didn’t go to rehab but carried on working, I had a few tough days at work, drinking a lot of coffee and taking plenty of breaks where I splashed water on my face, mostly to no avail. It took about three days altogether for the voices to stop. I don’t remember exactly how long, but at some point I realized that they were gone. So don’t expect the voices to disappear just because you stopped. It takes a few days.


Bear in  mind that I’ve combined a few different times I stopped using above because it makes describing the situation easier… If you want accuracy…When I first attempted recovery, at the end I was hearing voices all the time. That time I did go to rehab, and slept most of the time for about two days, after which I joined the others there in their group activities, although for two more days I was mostly out of it. I was quite unable to stay awake. And it also took about three days for the voices to disappear.

I don’t know the exact cause of the voices… I don’t know if it is directly because of the drugs, or if it is a consequence of the combination of prolonged sleep deprivation as well as the drugs. But when I quit the drugs for good in September 2013, I was fortunate in that I wasn’t hearing voices then. I’d been using every day, and sleeping an hour or two every night (thanks to extreme tolerance for the drug). In fact, the day I quit, I went straight to sleep right after using and then destroying all my drug paraphernalia. That is, I could even sleep while high on meth. I felt awful and confused most of the time then, living my life in a drug-fueled haze, but heard no voices. I quit on a Thursday and went to work on the Friday, without any drugs. And I was OK at work. Then I slept most of that weekend, and by Monday I was able to perform reasonably well at work. I’ve never looked back.

(But honestly, I don’t know why quitting was relatively easy the last time. But I generally consider all the times I tried to quit when describing cleaning up as difficult, because all the other times were difficult. All except the last time, and I don’t know why. Maybe the difficulty and being unable to stay awake is purely psychological? Maybe it’s just the addict trying to make excuses to get more drugs? Maybe because I’d made peace with the fact that I would not use again that last time, that made it easier? I don’t know and I don’t need to know any more.) Though on previous occasions when I quit (temporarily) I did hear voices up until about three days after cleaning up. My longest clean time (before this past two years and a bit) was nine months, and when I relapsed, the voices returned in a matter of weeks, which tells me that whatever damage had been done, had not been completely repaired in those nine months clean. (After all, I used for about three years originally before hearing voices.)

So rest assured, the voices do stop. But if you don’t want them to return, you can never use meth again. It’s the only way.