Addiction stories: How I recovered from my addiction to crystal meth

By the time I was done with my addiction to crystal meth, I had racked up 4 arrests, 9 felonies, a $750,000 bail, a year in jail, and an eight year suspended sentence to go along with my 5 year probation period. Though I think education is important to keep getting the message out about addiction and drug abuse, there is no doubt that addiction stories do a great job of getting the message across, so here goes.

My crystal meth addiction story

The kid my parents knew was going nowhere, and fast. That’s why I was surprised when they came to my rescue after 3 years of barely speaking to them. My lawyer recommended that I check into a rehab facility immediately; treating my drug abuse problem was our only line of legal defense.

cocaine linesI had long known that I had an addiction problem when I first checked myself into rehab. Still, my reason for going in was my legal trouble. Within 3 months, I was using crystal meth again, but the difference was that this time, I felt bad about it. I had changed in those first three months. The daily discussions in the addiction treatment facility, my growing relationship with my parents, and a few sober months (more sobriety than I had in years) were doing their job. I relapsed as soon as I went back to work in my studio, which was a big trigger for me, but using wasn’t any fun this time.

I ended up being kicked out of that facility for providing a meth-positive urine test. My parents were irate. I felt ashamed though I began using daily immediately. My real lesson came when I dragged myself from my friend’s couch to an AA meeting one night. I walked by a homeless man who was clearly high when the realization hit me:

I was one step away from becoming like this man.

You see, when I was in the throes of my crystal meth addiction, I had money because I was selling drugs. I had a great car, a motorcycle, an apartment and my own recording studio. After my arrest though, all of that had been taken away. I just made matters worse by getting myself thrown out of what was serving as my home, leaving myself to sleep on a friend’s couch for the foreseeable future.

Something had to change.

homelessI woke up the next morning, smoked some meth, and drove straight to an outpatient drug program offered by my health insurance. I missed the check-in time for that day, but I was told to come back the next morning, which I did. I talked to a counselor, explained my situation, and was given a list of sober-living homes to check out.

As I did this, I kept going to the program’s outpatient meetings, high on crystal meth, but ready to make a change. I was going to do anything I could so as not to end up homeless, or a lifetime prisoner. I had no idea how to stop doing the one thing that had been constant in my life since the age of 15, but I was determined to find out.

When I showed up at the sober-living facility that was to be the place where I got sober, I was so high I couldn’t face the intake staff. I wore sunglasses indoors at 6 PM. My bags were searched, I was shown to my room, and the rest of my life began.

I wasn’t happy to be sober, but I was happier doing what these people told me than I was fighting the cops, the legal system, and the drugs. I had quite a few missteps, but I took my punishments without a word, knowing they were nothing compared to the suffering I’d experience if I left that place.

Overall, I have one message to those struggling with getting clean:

If you want to get past the hump of knowing you have a problem but not knowing what to do about it, the choice has to be made clear. This can’t be a game of subtle changes. No one wants to stop using if the alternative doesn’t seem a whole lot better. For most of us, that means hitting a bottom so low that I can’t be ignored. You get to make the choice of what the bottom will be for you.

You don’t have to almost die, but you might; losing a job could be enough, but if you miss that sign, the next could be the streets; losing your spouse will sometimes do it, but if not, losing your shared custody will hurt even more.

At each one of these steps, you get to make a choice – Do I want things to get worse or not?

Ask yourself that question while looking at the price you’ve paid up to now. If you’re willing to go even lower for that next hit, I say go for it. If you think you want to stop but can’t seem to really grasp just how far you’ve gone, get a friend you trust, a non-using friend, and have them tell you how they see the path your life has taken.

It’s going to take a fight to get out, but if I beat my addiction, you can beat yours.

By now, I’ve received my Ph.D. from UCLA, one of the top universities in the world. I study addiction research, and publish this addiction blog along with a Psychology Today column and a number of academic journals. I also have my mind set on changing the way our society deals with drug abuse and addiction. Given everything I’ve accomplished by now, the choice should have seemed clear before my arrest – but it wasn’t. I hope that by sharing addiction stories, including mine, we can start that process.

About Addiction: Synthetic drugs, binge drinking, and recovery

You didn’t think we’d let you go a whole week without giving you another of our amazing updates about addiction news and research from around the globe did you? I’m sure you didn’t, and you were right! Here we are again with some good old discussions of marijuana, alcohol binge drinking, and other issues relevant to addiction and drug use. We hope you like it.

Synthetic Drugs and Marijuana

Greenbay Press Gazette– K2 is being sold and marketed as a legal substitute for marijuana and is also referred to as “Spice,” “Genie,” “Zohai” or simply “legal weed”. Apparently, cops in Wisconsin don’t like it too much and even though it hasn’t been banned in that state, they’re making trouble for those who sell it and store owners are complying by removing K2 products from their shelves.

Time– Another article examining the question “is marijuana addictive?” According the DSM, addiction is the compulsive use of a substance despite ongoing negative consequences, which may lead to tolerance or withdrawal symptoms when the substance is stopped. Although only about 10% of people who smoke marijuana become addicted to it by this definition, the real issue is how harmful the drug may be and what consequences it may produce for individuals who are using compulsively.

Science Daily– Speaking of negative impacts of marijuana use, this article discusses the possible neurobiological implications of marijuana and alcohol use during adolescence. Binge drinking in adolescence is a relatively common occurrence in many circles and it can detrimentally affect  cognitive functioning, especially in terms of attention and executive function.  Marijuana was found to, not surprisingly, leave adolescent users with impaired memory performance. The fact that this drug use is occurring during a sensitive developmental period likely doesn’t help.

ABC News– Kids aren’t the only ones who binge drink. Mothers who binge drink during pregnancy are increasing the chances that their babies will develop attention and memory deficits. It was estimated that about 40,000 infants are born each year with neurological and developmental damage that was caused by binge drinking. We’ve written about fetal alcohol syndrome in the past, and this piece touches on the same issues.

Addiction, recovery, and the good old drug trade

The Messenger– This article uses everyday language to explain the evolution of addiction and specifically seven signs that causal substance use is evolving into dependence. I can’t say I agree with everything said here, especially some of the statistics, but it’s a nice read, and as long as you recognize it for what it is – a very dumbed-down version of the real account of things – you’ll hopefully enjoy it!

Breaking the cycles– Sober Living Environments (SLEs)  is a term which is often spoken in  addiction/alcoholism treatment and recovery programs. Sober living houses provide recovering addicts with a drug-free environment in order to complete the transition from a residential treatment setting to stabilization and reintegration to a normal life.

Addiction Inbox– The UN has been monitoring designer drug trade. This report displays emerging trends in synthetic drug use. The drugs that are being observed are amphetamine-type stimulants, as well as designer drugs such as mephedrone, atypical synthetics like ketamine, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and old standbys like LSD. The article gives a complete list of the findings of drugs used in a variety of countries and it is very fascinating.