“The national rate of meth addiction recovery is between 16 and 20 percent. The chances of a recovery happening without some form of addiction therapy: 3%”
Statistics like these above are almost impossible to conceive of for non-addicts or people that have never been close to an addict. But ask anyone who has made it through the journey of quitting meth and they will tell you they can see exactly why the success rate is so low. Quitting meth sucks. I’m not talking about sucks like that day every so often that you have to go to the DMV or the Social Security office. No, quitting meth sucks like the plane you were on crashed and you are the sole survivor on some undiscovered island that will become your home for years.
It can be done though, with professional help, and even sometimes without it, if you know what to expect. It won’t make what you are about to go through any easier, but it won’t be as much of a shock when you do.
As an addict, I thought I already knew what ‘the crash’ was. It’s what happens when you stop using meth for a little bit to get some sleep, duh! Your poor little body has been awake and starving for a week or so and you finally decide to make yourself stop using to sleep for a couple hours. When you quit meth permanently, the crash takes on a whole new meaning. For weeks or even months in some cases, the only thing you will do, is sleep and eat. For me, it lasted about a month and I still can’t remember those days clearly. What I do remember is waking up about every 20 hours of so to a line of plates with crumbs of food leading to the kitchen. Evidence that I had woken up and eaten many times, but didn’t remember it. It was impossible to do anything, much less try to keep up with normal life and a job. This is why rehabs are great places. Trying to quit meth and continue with your normal, day to day life would be close to impossible. This first phase of quitting is very hard, and most addicts will not stick it out.
This phase will eventually end. You will be able to get out of bed and start having a normal life again. It is worth it to hold out. If only so you don’t have to go through it again each time you attempt to quit. Sometimes even now, 2 years later, when I’m tempted to do meth again, I don’t just so because I don’t want to go through the devastation of the crash.
You will be broke
You would think, by quitting the addiction that takes so much of your money, you would logically have more money. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. At least not for a while.
Typically, by the time you come to the point of quitting meth, you have messed up your life pretty bad. If you only did meth casually, kept your life together, and are currently at a healthy body weight, you and I will talk later, but this particular blog post, is not for you (yet). I’m talking to those of us that went past that point. You will be broke, and here is why:
- You’ve spent all your money on meth. (Come on, you wouldn’t really be quitting if you still had money for meth)
- You will be unable to work at first. (See “The Crash” above)
- You’ve screwed over anyone who would have ever helped you out.
- You have accumulated many tickets, warrants and legal fees.
- You’ve ruined your credit.
When I made the decision to quit, I didn’t realize how broke I was going to be (and still am). What makes it even harder is all the money spending you did while you were on meth. Not just on the meth itself but on all the things you were obsessed with during your addiction. I still have crates full or arts and crafts supplies that I will probably never use. My best friend still has 17 salt and pepper shakers in her kitchen cabinet. My boyfriend still has about 200 chapsticks. Trust me, you were spending money during your time on meth on the stupidest shit ever.
You will lose your family, again
Chances are, you have already somewhat lost your family due to your meth addiction. Meth addicts steal. We lie. We don’t show up to family events that we promised we’d be at. We’ve left our children with our relatives to go do meth. We may have had them bail us out of jail. We’ve borrowed money for bills, only to spend that money on our drugs. We promise them over and over we are going to quit, but we don’t. We may have even lost their grandchildren because of our addiction. Our families had to distance themselves from us during our meth using if only to protect themselves. When you quit, a lot of the time, your family will rally around you in support once they see you are taking it seriously. They try to keep you company and keep you busy so you have no time for drugs. They tell you how proud of you they are and how they’re so happy to see you becoming yourself again.
But after their initial excitement over your quitting wears off , when you are more able to take care of yourself again, your family will seem to not like you and become distant all over again. It makes an addict paranoid at first. Like, do they think I’m on drugs again? Did they find out something horrible I did while on drugs that they didn’t know before?
I see two reasons this usually happens.
First, they are still very hurt, Like it or not, you have probably scarred their feelings for you during your addiction. They are so happy you have quit but you have traumatized them. I can remember tweaking out in my mother’s front yard one day, screaming and throwing my purse and my dear mom crying and shutting the door on me so she wouldn’t have to watch my fit. I will never be able to erase that memory from either of our heads. When I quit using ice, my mom was my biggest supporter, right by my side for the first couple months. Now, I see her maybe once a month and that’s only if I track her down. At first, this really bummed me. But then I realized, it’s not that my mom doesn’t love me. She does and she is a wonderful mother. It’s that I hurt her so bad she has to keep some distance between us to protect herself, just not as much distance as she needed when I was on meth.
Second, no matter how much they forgive you, they are still pissed. Whether you quit drugs or not, you still stole, lied and abused them in some way. When you first quit, they are nice because they are so relieved you are quitting and so afraid you will go back to doing drugs if they cross you. But after you get your shit together again, they want you to pay back what you owe to them. I deal with this mostly from my boyfriends mother. She was so supportive of him quitting drugs but now that she considers him “quit”, she is mad. She sees he is working again so in her mind the first thing he needs to do is pay her back. Now that he is quit, he should move back in with them and “focus on his real family”to make up for the time he missed with them. The only thing you can do for family members like this is be patient and as kind as possible. Try to pay them back what you can. But at the same time, it is time to get your life together. It will not help them to pay them back just to borrow it again because you have no money to live on.
The Addiction Lasts
You ever talk to someone who used to smoke cigarettes but has been quit for a long time? They will almost always tell you that they still want to smoke cigarettes. That no matter how happy they are to have quit, if they smell a cigarette, they want a cigarette. It’s the same way with meth, or really any hard drug. You will always want to do meth again. Even talking about meth will make your mouth water. You will wake up in the middle of the night months after quitting craving it. You will dream you have it and are trying to hide it from everyone (I dream this often).
You are an addict for life. Don’t be discouraged by this, but don’t be surprised by it either. There will probably not be a single day that you don’t feel the urge to do meth for a long time. This persistent urge you will have makes staying clean permanently harder than anything. As long as you recognize these urges for what they are, an addiction, you will be more able to resist the temptation. I have a few boundaries that help me reduce these urges that I will share with you.
- Don’t go anywhere that meth may be. – This includes nightclubs, friends houses, etc. You already know the local places meth addicts go to. Don’t go to these places. You may still have friends or family that still do meth. Don’t go to their houses. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them. It means you are taking cautions to protect yourself and all the progress you have made. No one can resist temptation in their face forever. Just stay away from it.
- Don’t talk about it. – Yes, you will need to talk in group (therapy) or with a counselor if you are getting professional help. But you may find yourself telling your meth story over and over to friends, co workers, or acquaintances. I used to notice how excited I’d get just talking about meth to people. Whether it be telling them my story, or just talking about something I did when I was on it, my mouth would be salivating like Pavlov’s dogs. Really any excuse I could find to talk about meth became addicting. And when I talked about it, I wanted to do it again. When I talk about it during the day, I dream about it that night, and then want to do it in the morning when I wake up. So for the first year, I made myself never talk about meth. Only now, almost 2 years later, do I trust myself to write this blog.
- Notice your triggers, and stay away from them. – Torch lighters, straws, and needles will obviously remind you of meth. But keep aware of the not so obvious ones. I personally can never go into the bathroom at Half Priced Books. Why? Because I used to smoke meth in there at least once a week. (That’s what happens when nerds become meth addicts) Even returning something to Walmart will have my teeth grinding because I used to do that all the time on meth. Any person, place or thing that you associate with meth will trigger you to do meth again. My recommendation is to steer clear of these triggers so as not to relapse.
You will forgive yourself, and move on with life
The shame an addict feels after they finally quit using can sometimes be unbearable. Add to that the disappointment you feel from everyone in your life, not to mention having to answer publicly for any legal problems you got yourself into during this time, and it can seem like there is no way out of the guilt.
There is nothing I can say to you in a blog to make you instantly forgive yourself. It will happen slowly as you heal from your addiction. And you will always feel shame for the things you did when you were on meth. Do I feel shame for having my kids taken from me for my addiction? Absolutely. But I can either give up and feel sorry for myself about it (which I did, for a long time) or I can work even harder to make it up to them now. And in working hard to make things right, you will learn to accept what you did and really start living again. Most people do not make it off meth. Be proud and thankful every day that you are still in recovery. Get involved in church, do some volunteer work, write a blog to help people. You can use your experience to make this world better. You can be part of the 16-20% of people that do recover. Maybe you can be the one who helps raise it to 25%? 30%? 100%? Dream big.
One last piece of advise I give to you, actually taken from Homer Simpson. “You can’t keep blaming yourself. Just blame yourself once, and move on. ”