First, a little bit about me. I’m a 48 year old gay man who has struggled for years to really embrace and accept myself for who I am. This is how my love affair with crystal meth began. I first started using meth in New York City in the 1990s — it allowed me to be everything I thought I wasn’t — outgoing and extroverted. I could drink all night and work the next day. It gave me the ability to feel comfortable sexually. Meth was everything I’ve ever wanted.
My story is similar to many addicts — I started using a little on weekends and a little became a lot and weekends became every day, and sniffing became smoking and smoking became shooting. The more I used, the less I recognized myself. Eventually, I was the guy sneaking out of the house after pilfering my partner’s wallet — then not coming home until after he left for work the next day. I did this over and over again. He was at his wits end, and I hated myself, but I couldn’t stop.
As you might expect, he eventually threatened to kick me out, and I was devastated. Retrospectively, I now know I was being a complete drama queen. I knew I was about to lose my meal ticket, and I would do just about anything to keep him around. Today, I know I was full of shit, but of course, hindsight is often twenty twenty. Out of desperation, one of the things I agreed to do was to attend a Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) meeting. CMA is based loosely on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, but it’s for people with a crystal meth problem. At that time, New York City had a huge problem with Crystal Meth in the gay community. I remember the first meeting well — it was my worst nightmare. I was sober, which was the first problem, but worse than that, I was going to a meeting of gay men — a large meeting. There were 75 guys there, all of whom were better than me in every way, so I thought. They were all better looking, better bodies, more successful and more outgoing. I was scared to death, but like most addicts, I puffed myself up, talked a good game and made it through the meeting. At that time, I was so worried about what people thought of me — I didn’t know how to do things differently. I didn’t want anyone to know what a piece of crap I was. Truthfully though, they were all addicts so they all knew what I was going through.
The first meeting was scary as hell and I didn’t want to be there, but something must have resonated with me, because it is fifteen years later and I still attend CMA meetings. Some things have changed. My partner left me — letting him go was one of the first selfless things I did when I first got sober. And I have since moved to Fort Lauderdale where I am well connected to CMA Fort Lauderdale. Getting sober has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also one of the most rewarding. I didn’t stay sober after that first New York City meeting. There were many years of in and out — lots of struggle and a few arrests, but today, I am sober, which is a miracle. My sober date in March 15, 2014, and this is the thing of which I’m most proud. Those good looking, outgoing happy guys who scared the bejesus out of me at that first meeting — they’re all my friends now. They actually like me. My life has changed completely — I have self confidence today. I accept and I’m comfortable with myself. My outlook on life is positive and I can actually say I’m happy.
All of these changes in me have happened because of the work I’ve done on myself and with the support of my friends at CMA. It hasn’t been easy and it’s taken a long time. My father used to tell me, “if it’s too easy, it isn’t worth it.” I never understood him, because, like most addicts, I wanted what I wanted now. Recovery isn’t something that happens now — it’s a process and it takes time. If you’re new in recovery or you’re still using, there is a solution. Getting sober won’t be easy — in fact, it will be one of the toughest, scariest things you do, but it will be worth it. That, I promise you! So reach out for help and contact a treatment center. Take that first step towards changing your life. I’ll be praying for you!