It’s been some hard-ass work. So often recovery gets sugarcoated into a “journey of self discovery,” (I know I call it that myself, often). And it is a journey. And we are exploring and discovering our more authentic selves. But it isn’t easy. To continue the metaphor, there’s a lot of rough, scary terrain we have to cover as we travel. It’s often not very pleasant: the self-examination, rigorous honesty and amends to others we find ourselves having to make. So don’t beat yourself up when it’s not all peaches and cream. Recovery is work, often hard. Very hard. But we can do it.
I used to say “thousands” have successfully recovered from meth, but today I say “over a million.” According to a study published by Australian researchers in 2012, over 56 million people worldwide use amphetamine and methamphetamine. (I’ve heard another statistic that 22 million are addicted specifically to crystal meth, but can’t seem to relocate my source, sorry.) If we figure that a mere 5% have quit the drug and recovered—and this is a purposefully conservative and low estimate—then, that means well over a million people worldwide have quit. If over a million people worldwide have quit meth and returned to leading full and drug free lives, you can too.
I can’t shun my friends who are chronic relapsers, just can’t. We’re often told to “stay around the winners,” the implicit advice being: avoid those who are losing their battle against their disease. Here’s the problem, I make a lot of friends due to the nature of my work and this website and most of them are recovering addicts. And the facts bear out that many of us will relapse or slip at least once, if not many times, during our recovery. (Remember, in medical terms, a relapse is an “acute flare-up” of the disease, not a relapse in moral judgment.) And so often the advice we hear from old-timers in recovery is: avoid relapsers, as if our shunning is part of the deserved “consequences” of using. I generally think that’s nonsense. The consequences of using are horrible enough without ostracizing our struggling friends from the very group of fellow addicts who should theoretically be empathetic. I want to be there to extend a positive, loving and encouraging hand in help. I’ll pick you up after a three day run with no sleep and take you to get a good meal before driving you home to crash. I’ll go with you into your apartment to help you trash all your remaining paraphernalia and drugs (I don’t go alone, but always with another sober friend tagging along). Maybe I’m just the eternal optimist, but when a friend is coming back from being “out there” with the drug, I always believe this relapse can be the last. Everyone has a last time to use to the drug, a moment when it’s over. For many that’s death, or prison. But for the lucky others, it’s after struggling with relapse after relapse until they finally put the pipe or syringe down forever. One more positive note to ponder: there’s a well known residential rehab house in Los Angeles that specializes in meth recovery, primarily because meth was the rehab director’s drug of choice. This man is a solid pillar in the sober community of L.A. and for you all you chronic relapsers out there, know it took him over 40 rehabs before recovery finally stuck. Don’t ever give up. As long as there’s breath, it’s NEVER too late for recovery.
That’s it. My 3 random thoughts. See many of you at CMALA this weekend, I hope.