When I first tried crystal meth at the age of 19, I thought, “This is it! I have found the solution!” I had always been shy, overweight, and awkward. Crystal meth made me lose weight and made me talk to people. I wasn’t afraid of anything. I felt confident and attractive. I finally fit in with the crowd of gay men that I had been too afraid to talk to ever since I started going to the gay bars and clubs.
I turned into a daily user very quickly. I needed to smoke meth every day to keep up with this “new me.” When I wasn’t high, I felt awful and would eat everything in sight. The self-loathing would start to set in. Meth was my cure for that. Because of my daily use, I started losing relationships with everyone that didn’t use. This included my family. I only had time for people that used. If you didn’t have money or drugs, you were of no use to me. Soon, I found other things I did not have time for…like a job, paying bills, doing laundry, and just functioning in normal society. It also wasn’t long before I couldn’t be bothered to go out to the clubs anymore. All of the glitz and glamor that came when I first started using quickly went away. All I had time for was using or finding a way to use. I was always chasing my next fix.
Because I needed money to support my habit, I started selling meth. I wasn’t very good at this because of how much I used. I often found myself doing too much and I would have to get money from my customers to even go buy more to sell. I never had any money left over to buy food or pay rent, so I would often have to get money from my dad to get my basic needs met. He knew what was going on, but he could not bear to know that I was starving. Often, I would use his money to get high and continue to starve. I had my utilities turned off at my disgusting apartment many times. Rather than trying to find a way to turn them back on legally, I would go outside and turn them on myself ,and use whatever money I had to buy more drugs. When the electric company started to lock my meter, I would sit in the dark for days getting high. I lived in Florida at the time, so it would be very hot and humid. But that did not stop me from continuing to use. Meth was priority number one.
By age 24, I was using 2-3 grams of meth a day. By this time, my body was so used to it, I was able to sleep every night. I no longer was able to stay up for days. My body just needed it to function. I always had a pipe and a baggy next to my bed. The first thing I would do when I woke up was fill up a bowl and start getting high. By now, I was involved with some people that sold large quantities. Instead of the grams or less I had been seeing, now I was seeing pounds of meth. The first time I saw a pound of it, I was terrified at the thought of what would happen to me if the cops had busted in. However, that did not stop me. I was willing to use no matter the price.
At 25, my dealer and several friends got arrested. Somehow, I did not get caught. I guess the cops saw me as just a junkie selling here and there to support my habit, so I wasn’t a priority. They had caught bigger suppliers, so they were satisfied with that. After their arrest, it became clear that these guys were responsible for most of the meth coming into my city, so with them gone, the drugs dried up. I could not find it anywhere. I dabbled in making it a few times, but it was very low quality, and I was terrified of something going wrong. I had heard of people blowing themselves up and I was afraid of that happening to me. After hearing what charges my dealer and friends were up against, I was also very afraid of going to prison. I had gotten lucky once, but I did not want to try my luck. By now, the fog was starting to clear.
So, I stopped using meth. I was basically forced to. My life started to get better. I started to look healthier and my family noticed and started to let me back into their homes and lives. I got a good job. I found a great boyfriend. Life was starting to get back on track. However, I did not understand addiction. I thought that I had just been addicted to meth. I still drank and smoked pot sometimes. Looking back, my relationship was extremely codependent. It was my new drug. When the relationship ended at 28, I was a daily drinker and starting to have consequences.
After a particularly bad night of drinking, I decided to check into rehab. Looking back, I did not go because I wanted to get sober…I just wanted people off my back. I did 28 days in a treatment center (which was nothing like the Sandra Bullock movie). After 5 months, I was drinking again. At this point, I thought my city was the problem, so I did a geographic and moved to Washington, DC. Surely, in a livelier and LGBTQ+ friendly city, I would have distractions and not drink so much. Unfortunately, running away did not solve anything. I was just getting drunk in a new city. This time, I had no support system and was all alone in an unfamiliar place.
Over the next decade, I continued to drink and have consequences. I went to jail and was hospitalized. I came into the rooms in 2013 and managed to get two and a half years. I never took the steps seriously, and I never completely let go of my reservations. I always thought that one day I would be able to drink again. So, once I got my life back on track and had another great boyfriend, I went back out. Over the next five years, my drinking got to a level I had never experienced. When my relationship would get rocky, I would come back in the rooms for a few weeks and then would go back out. Finally, after almost five years together, my partner left me.
In March of 2021, during the pandemic, I hit an emotional low. I had done everything to try and control my drinking, even keeping a drinking log in a spreadsheet, but nothing worked. I had alienated all my friends and had no one. I decided to either kill myself or try to get sober one more time. Thankfully, I logged onto a Zoom CMA meeting, and I finally surrendered. I was done. I had no reservations. In all my relapses, I had finally proven to myself that I cannot drink and use drugs successfully.
I got a sponsor and started working the steps. It wasn’t about just getting them done to check a box. It was about thoroughly working them and understanding them. I picked up service positions whenever I could and dove headfirst into recovery. Thanks to online meetings, I was able to attend one whenever I felt an urge. Some days, I was going to three or four meetings! I gave my number out at meetings. I got numbers and used them. I started making friends and let them get to know me. When I stumbled or lost focus, I had people that were willing to call me out. I also sought outside help for my mental health. I went to the doctor and to the dentist. Getting healthier mentally and physically has been a game changer for my sobriety.
Today, I have a large network of other addicts. I have a close group of friends that actually know me. I am honest and vulnerable with people. I help other addicts. I do my best to live by the principles of the program. When I mess up, I own up to it and move forward. Even though meth hasn’t been my most recent drug of choice, I feel at home in CMA. When I have a using dream, it is rarely about alcohol. It is almost always about meth. I know I need to hear stories of other meth addicts to keep it far away. I also try to share my story to other addicts that may think alcohol and other substances are okay. I know, firsthand, that going from one drug to another is like switching seats on the Titanic.