Mourning the Loss of Crystal Meth

Mark Twain once said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” Don’t we know it, too?

If you’ve been struggling with crystal meth, you’ve probably come to realize that quitting—even though difficult—isn’t nearly as difficult as staying quit.

After withdrawal ends, the question for us is no longer “How do I quit?” The critically important question becomes: “How do I stay quit?” And there are many different valid ways to answer that question.

Some who use 12 step programs will swear the secret to staying quit is attending meetings. “Meeting makers make it,” they proclaim. And this is true—for them. Yet for others, with just as many years of sobriety, it can be pretty much the opposite: their meth-free life continues not because they are reminded of their addiction daily at some meeting, but because they do their best to let their addiction be part of the past and not the present. This person probably doesn’t even consider herself to be an addict anymore, she has no friends who are familiar with the meth lifestyle, and credits her happiness not to “recovery,” but to her passionate involvement with life. This person’s motto might be: I don’t live in that sketchy meth world anymore, so why should I dwell on it?

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My point in citing these directly opposing strategies, both of which have proven to be successful, is to remind you just how big recovery is. No cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach works in recovery. Recovery is different for everyone. How do you stay quit? Well, you’ve got to figure that one out for yourself. There’s a lot of help along the way if you want it. Recognizing I had to mourn the loss of crystal meth from my life was something that really helped me. So I’m telling you about it now. Maybe it will help you, too.

I realized that, in order to stay quit, I finally had to grieve the loss of meth without shame. I had to be totally okay with the fact I’d never get to feel the rush of meth in my body again. Like it or not, to honestly face my life and move forward, I had to admit I was in mourning. For meth, for crying out loud! The good news is this mourning didn’t last forever.

Almost fifty years ago, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross described the 5 Stages of Loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and (eventually) acceptance. For us who lost meth, it might look like this:

Denial: I don’t really have to stop; I just need to scale back and slow down.

Anger: To hell with tapering off! I want to use, now!

Bargaining: If I just do ice one weekend a month, just one…

Depression: I can’t ever really do “just one…” and I’m going to have to give up meth forever or it will destroy my life completely.

Acceptance: I’m okay with never again getting to feel that meth rush-high. Or at least I want to be okay with it.

Maybe it’s time to mourn the loss of ice. Yeah, I know. Easier said than done. Still, it can be done.