So now that you’ve stopped, how do you stay stopped? One way is to start going to Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings. I’ve heard it said by more than one recovering addict that, in their first few weeks, it was only when at a meeting that they felt calm, only then did their mind stop racing. In the early weeks of recovery, you might find that meetings offer the same calming effect for you.
It helps to remember CMA itself is not a “12 Step program,” but rather a “fellowship” of recovering addicts. Although CMA encourages you to use the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to get and remain clean, you don’t have to have a sponsor or be “doing step work” to attend. As they usually say at the beginning of most meetings, the only requirement to attend CMA is the desire to quit crystal meth and live a sober life. Period.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of CMA so you can decide for yourself.
You might not be a “crowd person” or “joiner,” but it doesn’t matter. You certainly don’t have to be either to get great benefit from a CMA meeting. Here are some pros:
You’ll meet living, breathing people who have been successful in quitting. This lets you know that, in fact, quitting is possible. It’s not just a theory, but reality. Also, if you have any questions about your recovery that this book doesn’t cover, most likely you’ll find an answer from someone who has gone through it before.
A meeting is a great place to make new non-using friends. Where else are you going to have a room full of people who are like you, addicts trying to quit? Most likely a using friend is one of your triggers. But the new friends you make at meetings should support you in trying to quit.
You’ll be able to “speak out” those thoughts you bottle up about using and recovery. It’s at meetings where you’ll meet someone who’s gone through what you’re currently experiencing—say, you just had a using dream and are feeling guilty because you enjoyed it. You can commiserate or, at the least, have a sympathetic ear. Also, “telling on yourself”—for instance, telling aloud about that impulse you had yesterday to phone your dealer, or whatever—is a great way to take your power back from your disease. Your meth addiction wants you to keep many secrets. It’s those secrets that will often take the newcomer out again.
If you have something you need to share, but don’t want to do it on a group level, then pick someone who has some time under their belt and go up to them after the meeting and say, “I really need to talk. Would you be willing to listen?” Most likely, they will be honored.
It’s rare that it happens, but the biggest downside to a CMA meeting is the same danger you have whenever you get a group of newly sober tweakers together—the possibility that someone might ask you to use with them. Again, it will probably never happen to you, but it’s the dark little secret that needs to be talked about. The meeting should be a sacred space, but the reality is predators exist. I’ve even known of a dealer who once came to a meeting in search of new clients. So remember, though the room is filled with a lot of solid sobriety, it’s also peppered with struggling addicts. Just a concern to keep in mind.
Some newcomers complain they feel “left out” because almost every person in the room already knows everyone. They greet with kisses or hugs, calling out to one another by name. Of course, the upside is that, if you stay around, soon you’ll be one of the people who gets hugged and called by name too. Meetings challenge you to get out of yourself, take risks, and meet new people.
If you are terminally shy, it will be more difficult. But only more difficult, not impossible. Perhaps have a non-using friend come with you to your first meeting. And, once you introduce yourself, you’ll never find a group of more accepting people.
Another common newcomer complaint is: “These meetings depress me because people whine and bellyache so much.” There’s always an excuse for what’s wrong with a meeting. Too many people. Not enough people. Too many tweakers. No tweakers, just a lot of AA drunks and me. Too many people share. Not enough people share. And so on. It’s at times like this when it helps to remind yourself: I have the one of the few diseases in the world that tries to convince me that I don’t have it. The disease in your mind is working overtime telling you: “I don’t belong here at this meeting, with these people.”
Other Fellowships – AA and NA
For various reasons, you might not be able to go to a CMA meeting. Perhaps there’s not one in your area or, say, it meets only once a week. Or, perhaps, being in a room full of former tweakers is too triggering for you.
I’ve met a few addicts who couldn’t go to CMA meetings because they always left the meeting with cravings. Something about the meeting triggered them profoundly. If this is you, then AA or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) will work better. Though, after enough time has passed and you’re not so easily triggered, you might want to try CMA again. There’s nothing like a room full of “your people” to make you realize you’re not in this journey of recovery alone.
A word about AA: Most AA meetings ask that you identify solely as an “alcoholic,” period. They ask that you keep your “meth addict” identity to yourself. This is because, in the early days before CMA or NA, many AA meetings were overrun by addicts seeking help. I know many tweakers who go to AA meetings and in their mind substitute “meth addict” for alcoholic. You’ll find the similarities between the meth addict and the alcoholic are many and the differences few.
Just attending the meeting is the important thing. You’re in a room with people who understand, people quitting along with you. A meeting reminds you, you are not alone.
Isolation is the big enemy. In general, I think any “clean and sober” gathering is a good thing.
Almost every successfully recovered addict I know will tell you they didn’t do it alone—in fact, they couldn’t have done it without the support of either family, friends or often “the fellowship” of CMA, NA, or AA.
I encourage recovering addicts to get involved in CMA, primarily to meet others whose goal is to live free of crystal meth. CMA is not right for everyone, but it’s a powerful tool available to you to help you quit if you can use it.
Click here to find a CMA meeting near you.