"Keepin' It Together"
"Man, look like that one is high." That was my first experience with me finding out that I had a problem. Most of us are born with a desire to "indulge." Most of us start with the idea that we are going to have fun and we usually do. Alcohol, cigarettes, pot, coke, meth, heroin, etc. all offer us a chance to alter, or "enhance" our perceptions of the world around us. And we go and do, and do, and do, and so on. Finally, as the positive experiences of our "high" get reinforced, we then start to rely on the substance. Our continual use helps us to cope, helps us make up for our perceived deficiencies in personality and character; helps us self-medicate our pain. That's the nature of addiction.
My story unfolds at age 19. I was introduced to intravenous Meth. I can remember the day as though it was yesterday! The rush and the incredible feeling of excitement! Ever since that day, I have reached for that high everywhere I go. I often think, "Why can't I just live like this?" That was when the ugly side of my problem came to rear its head.
Six years ago, I could not believe something was wrong with my drug use. But the final straw that changed everything was when I found out I had HIV. I was diagnosed with PCP, three days after I had a wild Coke binge. Not knowing why my regular antibiotics weren't working, I could not breathe! When at the clinic, the doc asked; "Do you use drugs?" I said "yes." She then asked, "Do you have unprotected sex?" I said "yes." God, that moment was so scary. Finally, I got the news. In one sense, I felt relieved. My HIV diagnosis led to a part of me being healed. Looking back, I realized I had something to make of myself. And then, there were the drugs. Here, I was forced to face my demons. But it was only then; I realized that things kinda, sorta, had to ... change.
One of the best places to start, if you recognize you have a problem, is to reach out. Many of us have to hit "bottom" before we are ready to see that there is only one way, and that is up! I have to tell you, that after I got used to saying, "Hi, I'm Josh, and I'm an addict," I found out that I was O.K. Yes, I was a person with a disease, but that I could go somewhere and be around others who were just like me, people struggling with the same thing. What a sense of relief it brought me, to know there was somewhere I could go to help me cope, understand, and furnish me with tools to help facilitate a better life. I often think when I see someone high, "Gosh, I sure hope that person's got somewhere to go when the road gets rough." For me that place has become Crystal Meth Anonymous; a place I'm proud to call a second home. The biggest thing this group has done for me is to give me a place to go; a place to share my experiences and struggles with others who are just like me. They helped me to understand that life is hard, and that I had to deal with the feelings, the constant craving to escape that addiction exerts over addicts. They also showed me that I could get support to help me find my way with this struggle.
We have Mark W. to thank for starting this awesome group. He created the Denver Metro Crystal Meth Anonymous Chapter. I laughed when I saw a flier for meetings. He titles them from words in the meth arena: "THE LOADERS," and "SKETCHIN' OUT," are just a couple of the many meetings around the area for us "tweekers." I was so scared at my first meeting, but then I kept going, and eventually met Mr. W. He'll tell you, "just call!" and he is there.
I really didn't know how much he cared, until I watched him help someone struggling with noticeable signs of constant use. There I watched him connect on the "real" level. Mark had known this boy from the time he was dealing meth, and we will call this boy, John. "John, I want you to think about what your sobriety is worth, 'cuz I am worried you're not far from over and out." He tells John, "I remember the last time we got high together, all the wild shit that happened that day." The boy, noticeably disarmed, starts to come around. By the end of our sharing, John starts to seem interested in hearing more. That is the power of reaching out. The thing that people don't usually want to do is admit that something might be wrong. But, for all the problems that come from acknowledging our addiction, the solution begins by taking that first step, admitting our problem. The second step is to ask for help. For most of us users, the saying, "using once is too many, and a thousand times never enough," sort of sums it up. We are people struggling with the disease of addiction, and we don't have to do it alone! Thankfully, there is help. And Crystal Meth Anonymous means that we have people who have been there and understand how to help each other out.
If you're struggling with crystal meth use and want more information on Crystal Meth Anonymous, check out the meetings below in Colorado. For national CMA resources see Crystal Meth Anonymous or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was provided by PWA Coalition Colorado. It is a part of the publication Resolute!.