Walk down Hollywood Boulevard on any given night and you’lll realize the streets are alive with lost souls. People wandering aimlessly… talking or should I say fighting with themselves. I see their vacant stares but I doubt they see me… they are souls for which death will come … but who knows when? Others are unconscious on the street; they are not sleeping… they are comatose in puddles of urine and trash. This is where they collapsed and will remain for days. Welcome to end stage crystal meth use.
Does every crystal meth story end homeless on the street? No… and you wouldn’t believe me if I swore it did. Addiction is like being in an elevator… sure you can ride it to the basement … but you can get off on any floor you choose!
I think we’re all tired of war stories and warnings about drugs and alcohol. Hell, if I had believed any of it I could have saved myself 30 years of addiction and grief. Reality is this… people are going to do whatever they want and no amount of warning will stop them. It is the reality of having free will.
Currently,meth addiction is one of the biggest concerns facing the LGBT community in the United States. For a variety of reasons unique to the gay community, crystal meth puts the health and well-being of these individuals at great risk.
Partying, especially involving young gay men, is a common component of the gay lifestyle in many communities. In big cities and small towns, gay men party for long hours at clubs devoted to their lifestyle. Crystal meth comes into play because of the euphoric effects of the drug. Crystal meth produces high levels of energy and increases one’s libido significantly and that is why it is so popular among the partying sub-culture.
The problem (again, especially as it pertains to gay men) is that there are some high-risk behaviors that can ensue as a result. Unprotected sex with multiple partners has seen a rise wherever there has been a co-occurring spike is crystal meth use. This can lead to transmission of the HIV/AIDS virus or Hepatitis -both of which are still extremely problematic in the gay community.
But meth is not a gay issue … it’s a mainstream issue that is wiping out huge segments of society. Straight guys in Kentucky trailer parks are cooking it up faster than truckers and housewives can use it. Reality sucks! No one is immune to a drug that can be manufactured from ingredients found at Wal-Mart…
Once someone who’s been addicted to meth goes through treatment, those who love and care for that person may breathe a sigh of relief. At last, you think, the nightmare is over and everything will get back to normal. The reality is that meth addiction is tough to get over. Even after treatment, which may go on for many months, there may be some residual insecurities and emotional difficulties that still need work. New skills may need to be learned, and there’s a whole lot of self-esteem and self-confidence rebuilding required. Still, reclaiming life after the ravages of meth addiction is possible.
The rush from meth is more than three times as strong as cocaine and 4-5 times as long. Statistically, the numbers are staggering. Worldwide meth addicts number 25 million. That’s more than the total number of cocaine and heroin users combined. One-fifth of all meth users are in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Three percent of students in the U.S. have experimented with meth before they leave high school. In the U.S. alone, 5 million people of all backgrounds are impacted by meth. From 20 to 50 percent of the jail population is incarcerated due to meth-related crimes: burglaries, thefts, assaults, and domestic violence.
Meth addiction is a chronic disease. Like other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, meth addiction can be managed. But due to its nature, rewiring and changing the brain, healing takes time. And not all meth addicts heal at the same rate or timetable. Some may require multiple episodes of treatment before the strategies and new ways of thinking lead to effective long-term recovery.
This is not a hopeless situation, however. Not everyone who goes through treatment for meth addiction will relapse… although many will. And relapse, while it can be serious, can also lead to a recognition that more treatment is required in order to “get it right,” or to have the strategies and coping mechanisms “stick.”
It takes a lot of money to feed the insatiable need for meth. After whatever savings are gone, meth addicts turn to stealing from family and friends, then often graduate to theft from strangers’ homes and places of business, even to armed robbery. Yet the bottomless need for meth never ceases. An addiction is a full time … you never get a day off… there are no holidays or sick days… and you cannot give notice you’re quitting. You’re a slave!
Does anyone have a clear vision of the future? Of course they don’t. Yet it’s still amazing that those in recovery from addiction from meth or any other substance or addictive behavior think that there will come a day when they’ll be “cured.” They’ll have arrived at recovery and won’t have to think about it anymore.
That’s wrong… and for so many reasons. First of all, it’s an unreal expectation to believe that there’s a cure for addiction. Maybe someday there will be a vaccine that will prevent certain types of addiction, or help those who are addicted quit for good.
There is no magic pill to make addiction go away…. but there is help.
Currently, the most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction are cognitive behavioral interventions. These methods are designed to help modify the individuals thinking, expectancies, and behaviors and to increase skills in coping with various life stressors. Methamphetamine recovery support groups are vitally important to addicts in recovery. The idea of another addict sharing his experience, strength and hope with a person still struggling leads to long-term drug-free recovery.