I ask myself – How did I become an addict and, more specifically, how did I become a crystal meth addict that used daily for almost ten years? After all, I grew up in a world of privilege. Not the kind of privilege where there was a trust fund waiting for me when I turned 21, though. My privilege was that I was a white male growing up in rural Oklahoma, where I was never treated differently or passed over for opportunities because of the color of my skin, or my ethnicity. I was raised in a loving home and never wanted for food, clothing or shelter. I was given pretty much everything I needed, including an education. All I had to do was stay out of trouble, so that is what I did. I stayed away from alcohol and drugs as a kid, so pretty much a parent’s dream. By the way, I realized at a young age I was gay. However, it was clear to me from the conservative and religious culture I grew up around that gay wasn’t acceptable; it was not an option. So, I did what was necessary to make everyone happy and played straight. From a very young age, I became a master of living a double life.
When I went to college, things began to change. I was in a new environment and was free to own my sexuality. However, it was new, and I craved love and acceptance, and I discovered alcohol gave me the confidence I needed to get those things. At home, I was the perfect son who just hadn’t found the right girl yet, and at school I was the popular guy that was seen at every party and looked at every cute guy as a sexual challenge.
After college, I moved further away from my family and again, I found myself in a place where I didn’t know anyone, and I fell back on my crutch, alcohol, which gave me the confidence to be my true gay self. Still seeking love and acceptance, my dependence on alcohol continued, as did my promiscuous ways. Along the way I met someone and fell in love with a man who is my husband today. I accepted my sexuality and addressed it with my family, where I also found acceptance. What didn’t stop was the partying, and the sexual escapades, sometimes with my husband, and sometimes not. I was always looking to fit in and be accepted by others, even though I now had love in my life and the acceptance of my family.
Fast-forward, I have moved a couple of times, with the last landing me in Washington D.C. For each move, the dependency on alcohol as my crutch followed. I didn’t make friendships unless you count bartenders, or anonymous hookups. It was in D.C. that I was first introduced to crystal meth. I was about to turn 40 and I wanted to see what the hubbub was about. My husband had tried it, and he appeared fine. He was doing well in his work; his teeth had not crumbled, and he hadn’t grown a tail! This gave me the permission to try meth without any concern or question.
From that first time using meth, it was more than just finding out what the hubbub was about…I LOVED IT, and I couldn’t wait to do it again. Soon, I was using daily, and my entire world was consumed by meth, with my priority being getting more and staying high. My old ability to live a double life kicked in and served me well as a drug addict. I also got off on the fact that I could pose as a clean-cut, stand-up guy to my family, friends and coworkers, but in reality, I was an addict that was open to sexual encounters that I had only seen in porn before. I put myself in situations that should have landed me in jail, or lost my job, or my life. Ten years past quickly, and as my 40’s ended, so did the party. It became just me and crystal meth in a dark room with porn playing on every device I had. There were no friends, my relationship with my family was almost nonexistent and my husband and I were merely roommates.
So how did I stop using? I first tried the “only on special occasions” method, and you can guess how that turned out. I realized this was something I couldn’t do on my own, and that scared me. I finally quit cold turkey, and I hung on in that white knuckled state for nearly two years. Then I found 12-Step meetings, specifically Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) meetings. My husband’s addiction had taken him to rehab and then to meetings, so I went to meetings with him to support him, not for me! After all I had been doing for two years, I didn’t need anything additional. However, something started to change as I went to more meetings and listened to others – others who had stories like mine. I began to see how the program worked for others, and I wanted that for me. So, I completely surrendered that I could stay clean alone. I got a sponsor and started working the steps.
I’ve now been sober for more than eight years. It hasn’t always been easy, but once I leaned into the program, which has included going to meetings, working the steps and taking suggestions from those who came before me, I have been able to examine myself, defects and all, and put myself on a path of self-improvement. My recovery program has allowed me to understand myself, like myself and love myself. I’ve accepted that a strong recovery program is necessary to maintain for the rest of my life, in order for me to stay sober and healthy. So, I wake up each morning and admit to myself that I am an addict, that I can’t stay sober alone, and I decide not to use.
As far as finding love and acceptance, I’m no longer searching. My recovery has given me that in spades. The fellowship has wrapped their arms around me and are there for me when I need it, as I am for them. This has been the gift of recovery for me and one that I am grateful for every day.
— De Lon H.