I keep referring to the fact that I don’t believe in quick fixes for addiction.
My crystal meth addiction
Partially, this is due to research I’ve been exposed to that shows changes in the brain that are very long lasting. As I’d mentioned in an earlier post about crystal meth use, it can take as long as 2 years of staying clean for dopamine function in the brain to return to anything near normal levels, and though we don’t have any clear answers on this yet, the function that does return is most likely not the same as that which was lost.
But it’s also due to my own experience. I used a lot of meth for more than 4 years. It started out with $40 bags (a quarter gram) and eventually grew to almost daily 8-ball use (3.5 grams,), which I could only afford because I was selling pounds of the stuff. I’m sometimes surprised that my brain still functions at all, let alone at the levels it needs to for the things i’m doing now. Still, my memory has suffered and the jury on whether my ADD had worsened due to it or not is still out.
When I got clean, it took me more than 2 years of no substance use whatsoever to get to the point where I felt I was “back to normal.” There were certainly stages of improvement along the way, but I literally had to learn how to live without drugs. It wasn’t easy.
Filling up the necessary recovery time
As you’ll find out continuously throught this blog, my road wasn’t without it’s share of bumps either. I got kicked out of my first rehab for using after about 3 months of staying clean and though my second try was successful, it was far from easy and the struggles taught me a lot about myself and what I am capable of.
I’ve included, and will keep writing, a series of posts about rechanneling addictive personality tendencies into more constructive activities that can help in getting through the tough periods of readjustment. I can say that for me, it was this rechanneling that made it possible to get through my days.
Be it my schooling, working out, or my newfound passion for gardening (on my tiny patio), finding new ways to occupy my restless mind have proven indispenseble for my new, improved life. While I might not have been preparing for it, there’s been a quiet in my mind I didn’t even know before…
Read the upcoming posts for ideas on what you can do to rechannel your energy into things that will improve, not destroy, your life…
8 responses to “How I cleaned up my act and dealt with my crystal meth addiction”
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Thank you for your excellent article and inside view on “how to learn to live without drugs.” We have helped many meth addicts get their life back. While we support the journey that you took, Courage to Change Addiction Recovery Ranch also incorporates neurotranmitters balancing to decrease addictive tendencies. Once dopamine is brought into a “normal” range it is amazing just how quickly the more traditional treatment/recovery models work. If dopamine function(as well as the other neurotransmitters involved with addictive behavior)is supported with whole food amino acid supplements that help balance and regulate the communication systems in the brain, there is more chance/hope for a sustaining recovery.
Thanks for writing. I have to say that aside from making sure that people are eating complete meals, I’m not sure what you mean by “balancing” neurotransmitters. Everyone has a different “balance” based on genetic, and other, factors, and unless you’re referring to medications that alter dopamine function, I don’t really know of anything that is considered dopamine “balancing.”
No doubt most addicts don’t eat well, so supporting their bodies with good nutrition certainly can’t hurt. Still, I’d be careful about saying you’re rebalancing anything without actual methods to test what you’re saying.
Thanks, Adi, for questioning this “balancing” of neurotransmitters. I got clean by Rapid Detox in Florida 13 months ago. They tried pushing supplements such as p-5-tph(converts to tryptophan), stomach yeast cleansers, probiotics, and many others. I had no problem with the probiotics, but harbor suspicions about the rest as none of them helped me. Zoloft only made me feel worse. The only thing that helped was time, family and a low-dose stimulant(Adderall). I am still learning to find joy in even the simplest things but I AM finding joy day by day. I can enjoy, like you, Adi, a bit of gardening, walking with my dog, even enjoying seeing a movie. I really knew things were getting better when I was able to enjoy my true love-reading. This may seem like little things but to a meth addict they are triumphs! My big message is to be suspect of people trying to mess with your head by promoting neurotransmitter fixes. They did not work for me.
hey, I’ve been clean for two and a half months, i quit cold turkey after 7 years of chronic meth use. The two symptoms that still plague are 12- 20 hour sleep cycles, and absolutely no sex drive. Having no sex drive makes me feel like i have no purpose, it’s so depressing. Will it really take 2 years for this to go away?
I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties although I want to offer my congratulations for kicking the meth. The sleep and energy will start coming back no and should improve slowly but constantly. Exercise can really help move that along if you can muster up the energy for that. The lack of sex-drive can take some time to get back partially because of massive dopamine changes in the brain and partially because sex is normally so intricately connected with meth use for many addicts. That means you’re going to have to start associating things other than meth with sexual activity and that can be difficult. However, with some concentrated effort (exercise specifically targeting this problem) you should be able to speed things up. A little mindfulness work would do wonders there too!
All the best,
I’ve been clean off meth for almost 18 months. I feel like I’m back to normal. For the first 4 months, I was still having impulsivity issues. I kept shoplifting food from a grocery store and finally got caught when I was in my 3rd month of sobriety. I continued to shoplift for another 2 months. I was stealing food and movies. I felt like I HAD TO HAVE these two things because these were the only two things that gave me immense pleasure while I was in the first stage of my recovery. That’s literally all I did for like 5 months was watch movies, cook and eat. It gave me great joy to cook all kinds of different meals and watch hundreds of movies, and when I couldn’t afford them I would steal them. Weird huh? It was as if food and movies became my drug.
After about 6 months, I started changing back to my old self and thinking “I’m not a thief…it’s not right to just steal things…” I felt like I was getting my morales back, which I now believe was really my brain repairing itself.
Finally, after like 8 months, I stopped doing things like that all together. I watch a movie here and there like normal people and I eat like a regular person (of course I gained 45 lbs).
Now I just feel like a normal everyday person. I job hunt, go on interviews and am in bed by 1:00 am every night.
Daniel: That’s a great story! It’s actually very similar to mine. I’m 6 months clean now. From the moment i stopped i absolutely needed to have TV shows to download from torrent sites(also technically stealing i suppose). It became my new drug and still is. I have little energy so I sit around and watch TV shows almost all the time. I gained 60 pounds instead of 45 pounds, which I read may have something to do with the low dopamine levels. I still sleep much more than a normal person, and all in all things are not getting any better, but I am patient. BTW since when is stealing from stores morally wrong?