“Crystal meth, or methamphetamine, is probably the most addicting chemical we have out there, even though they all are [addictive] to the individual consumer or person who’s become addicted. But in short, methamphetamine — for the person, they get this incredible “Wow” that lasts maybe up to 18 hours. Most of our drugs are much shorter acting, and that “Wow” feeling is only a few minutes.”
Dr. Kevin Wandler, Chief Medical Officer for The Recovery Village

Methamphetamine is an incredibly addictive stimulant that produces feelings of euphoria, so it’s no surprise that millions of people struggle with the drug each year. In 2017, around 1.6 million Americans reported using meth in the past year, while 774,000 reported past-month use.

Statistics like these are helpful, but it’s easy for the human element to get lost in the data. Numbers cannot illustrate the ongoing pain that those with meth addiction — as well as their families, friends and loved ones — face each day. Nobody sets out to become addicted to meth, but everyone who struggles with the drug has a story of how it began and what it’s done to their life. Instead of focusing on the statistics, it’s time for the real faces, voices and words of meth addiction to take center stage.

Stories of the Beginning of Methamphetamine Addiction

Carren Clem, the daughter of a narcotics police officer, began using drugs after she’d been raped. According to Carren, she did so “to deal with the shame.” She was first offered meth at an after-work party to give her more energy. Carren said:

“I smoked it all weekend. The high was so intense it was unbelievable. I felt like Superwoman.”

Christine Suhan, on the other hand, knew what she was getting into:

“When I tried meth for the first time, I knew the nature of my disease. I knew that the minute I put the drugs in my body, my brain would respond with an uncontrollable obsession. I knew that the meth would hijack my frontal lobe and instead of having access to survival skills, such as the need for food or the fight/flight response, getting more drugs would become my one and only concern. I knew all about addiction; I had already been to treatment for alcoholism and “soft” drugs. I knew that picking up hard drugs would catapult me into a new dimension of hell, but I didn’t care. I needed something to change the way I felt.”

According to s0ck, a Reddit user, this is why he started using meth:

“I had a job overnight stocking, and my job performance improved due to the meth. No exhaustion, no need for breaks, easily occupied with mundane tasks.”

Elizabeth Fish explained her reasons for starting:

“A few puffs gave me the energy to clean the apartment, do Cameren’s [her baby’s] laundry, run some errands, and still be wide awake whenever she cried. I was very careful, though, never to smoke around Cameren. I’d wait until Derek got home, and the two of us would put our baby down securely in her crib, turn on an air purifier to keep smoke away from her, and go downstairs to light up. I somehow managed to convince myself that by doing it this way, I could take care of my habit  — and my baby.”

Another Reddit user, matsangak95, described the high like this (Note: the text has been unedited except to censor cursing):

“I took about 2-3 hits and Oh my lord, the feeling is f****ng great. I feel like doing things, talking to everyone, saying ‘hi’ to everyone in my contacts (luckily i didn’t). They said do you have anything to do? I suddenly remembered i had a f****ng proposal that I have been delaying for a while. I then went to open my laptop and started doing it. Oh lord, the words and phrases just came out from my mind like a piece of cake and by the time i was so into that, I realised that the work is done. i was like “Wow, it this f****ng real?” The 2-months-work was done in a night.”

Stories of the Long-Term Effects of Crystal Meth Use

Long-term meth use can lead to dependence and addiction. The process may begin when someone develops a tolerance to the drug, which pushes them to use meth more often and in larger quantities to achieve the same effects. This makes them likely to become dependent, meaning they will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if they stop using meth. Addiction can also set in, which is when someone compulsively uses the drug despite negative consequences.

Carren put the need for meth like this:

“I would do anything with anyone to get drugs — steal car stereos, have sex, whatever. Often when I woke up I didn’t know where I was or how I had gotten there.”

Christine talked about her desperation:

“I once spent an entire day crouched down on my bedroom floor holding a flashlight and picking through my carpet. An entire day. I can’t even tell you how many little rocks, crumbs, pieces of dirt, and granules of salt I ate hoping to find the specks of crystal meth I was convinced I had dropped the night before.”

She continued, “Two days [after hospitalization for meth overdose], I overdosed again. The following week I started injecting meth instead of snorting, smoking, and swallowing it like I had been. I couldn’t stop.”

s0ck said this was his greatest shame:

“I traded meth for [oral sex]. It’s my greatest shame, that I would do something like that. And I don’t mean that these girls were willing and eager and into me, I mean that it was purely an exchange for drugs.”

Elizabeth said that even after her baby was taken away from her, her meth use continued:

“Still, I kept on smoking meth. It was crazy: The drug was what had caused all the problems, yet I turned to it to take away the pain. On the bad nights, I stayed up, talking to my mom on the phone, and aching from missing my baby.”

This was matsangak95’s experience with addiction (Note: edited only for cursing):

“Smoked again, need more than usual now (was starting to miss the first time feeling)and literally did nothing useful. My body is now in pain, lost a lot of weight, getting insomnia, and my emotions are f****ng unstable when sober. Sometimes feel just fine, sometimes feels like s*** that i need meth to feel good. I started to find more meth-friends. Spend like half of my scholarship on meth.”

Meth Horror Stories and Hitting Bottom

The longer you use meth, the more likely you are to experience the following side effects:

  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoid behavior
  • Violent behavior
  • Memory loss and confusion
  • Dental problems, including tooth decay and loss (“meth mouth“)
  • Weight loss
  • Sleep problems
  • Skin sores from itching

Meth can even affect microglia cells in the brain, which fight infection and get rid of damaged neurons. Meth can cause these cells to attack healthy neurons, leading to neurotoxicity (damage to the nervous system) and death. These effects are reversible, but a person must stop using meth in order to restore their health and prevent these life-threatening risks.

Christine faced the very real risk of dying if she didn’t get sober:

“I stopped using because I had no choice. I was going to die.”

Carren attempted suicide because of her addiction:

“My “friends” tried to help me commit suicide by giving me a huge amount of drugs and alcohol. I didn’t die — but when I woke up I was so sick I finally knew I needed help. I called the youth pastor at our church. He called my parents and they got me into a treatment program.”

s0ck never faced death, but meth use provided an eye-opening situation about the reality of his addiction (Note: edited only for cursing):

“In the end, what lead me to quit was a moment of clarity. When I took a look at my situation. I used to be a straight As kid, with a future. Now I was a high school dropout, working at a dead end job where I never spoke to anyone, and at that moment I was sitting in a trailer with five other filthy guys. One was missing an eye, telling me about how he [performed oral sex] in jail. The other was a gay man who had his relationship destroyed by meth, and he was busy picking at a sore on his forehead that had grown to the size of a half dollar. No one had bathed in days. Everyone had been up for days on end. There was a bunny that someone had caught decaying in the back room, under the bed. Where the f**k was I? What the f**k was I doing there?”

For Elizabeth, it was a matter of choosing her family or her addiction:

“DHS assigned us a new caseworker. She immediately suspected that I was still on meth, and warned me that if I didn’t get my act together, I could lose my parental rights permanently. That scared me enough to say, “Just tell me what to do.””

matsangak95 was able to weigh the consequences of their addiction against the brief pleasure it provided:

“Meth has given me the best feeling i have ever had in my life. That huge confidence, alertness, socializing, etc. Its hard to say goodbye when im thinking that im not gonna feel these feelings again but at the same time it given me the loss of weight, sucken face, unstable emotions, lost of my girlfriend, insomnia and many more. It got me thinking, is it really worth it? All those bad effects for just a few hours of the euphoria. No, it doesn’t.”

What Getting Clean Can Do for You

After getting sober:

  • Carren started working for a fitness center and for an organization that helps educate kids about meth. She is married and has a daughter.
  • Christina regained the trust of her family and friends and met her husband through a 12-step program. They have three sons.
  • s0ck has been sober since 2005 and is still active on Reddit, mainly commenting about politics and gaming.
  • Elizabeth regained custody of her daughter, went back to college and helped her boyfriend stay sober.
  • matsangak95 hasn’t posted on Reddit since announcing their sobriety. We hope they are doing well in their recovery journey.

Everyone has their own reasons for ending the hold that addiction has on their lives. One of these stories may have resonated with you — perhaps you’re also hoping to avoid death, take control of your future, reclaim your child or regain your health. Whatever your situation may be, healing and recovering from meth addiction is possible.

Pop Superstar Fergie’s Journey From Crystal Meth Addiction (Video)

If you need further proof of what sobriety can do, watch this video of Fergie talking about her journey from meth addict to international pop star:

Finding Help for Meth Use

If you or someone you love is struggling with a meth addiction, The Recovery Village is here to help. We have locations around the country, each providing evidence-based treatment for addiction as well as co-occurring mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. Contact us today to learn more about professional detox, rehab, teletherapy and aftercare programs that can work well for your situation.

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