From a recovering addict's point of view
By Laura Collins
Published in News on June 27, 2010 1:50 AM
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Tammy" is a recovering meth addict. Her name has been withheld to protect her privacy as she continues to battle her addiction in treatment.
After 72 hours with no sleep, her house was spotlessly clean, the fact that both her parents were dying was no longer crushingly unbearable, and the fact that the love of her life didn't feel the same way about her no longer felt like the end of the world.
All thanks to meth.
Tammy (not her real name) first tried meth 13 years ago at 26 years old. But the drug didn't fall into her lap. She didn't gradually work her way up to meth through a series of gateway drugs. She sought it out. After hours of research on the Internet and pages of facts and statistics, she decided meth was exactly what she was looking for.
"I had 200 pages of how it made you feel, where you could get it, everything about it," she said. "I knew the stats of coming clean and staying clean were 7 percent, and I knew that going into it. But I thought, 'Not me, I'm too strong for that.' I just needed the release."
The first time she tried meth, she got it from a guy she was seeing and snorted a line.
"It was great. I cleaned, I cleaned and I cleaned. I had a lot of energy. I was very confident, alert. It was great. I thought it was wonderful," she said.
She waited two weeks until she did it again, and this time it stuck. From that point on she was using three to four times a week.
"When you use, you stay up for three days, you sleep one day, then you get up and use again."
She found that the drug not only enabled her to take care of her parents but also her two daughters who were 5 and 7 at the time.
After about six months, she "graduated" from snorting to smoking meth, which provided a more instantaneous high. Six months after that, she started taking meth in capsule form, a gram at a time.
"I did meth to figure out what I was going to do about my father's death. When I wasn't high, I couldn't think about how I was going to deal with everything. Without the drug, all I could do was cry," she said.
Her parents ended up dying six months apart, and her brother died two years later. She says her life became revolved around meth. If she didn't have meth, she would get by by eating the filters used in cooking the meth.
"I would do whatever. I would get people to go purchase the pills (to make meth), I would give them drugs in return," she said and added that she had "a buzz" every day for the last 13 years.
In March, that buzz came to a crashing halt when she was arrested on several felonies.
"I've been waiting for three years for them to come and get me for shopping. It was a sit and wait game. I knew I had gone over my limit. I cared, but I didn't care enough," she said. "Getting busted was the best thing that ever happened to me."
On Thursday, she celebrated 90-days clean and last week she received her GED. But sobriety has also been marked with new lows she hasn't felt in years, in addition to the cravings and constant migraines.
"Depression is part of my life now," she said. "I've had to deal with the same things. I never dealt with my mother, father and my brother dying. All kinds of feelings I have suppressed. They don't go away. They're still there, they've come back. I'm dealing with them now."
The meth also took a toll on her body, specifically the lithium, which has led to psoriasis of the liver. And on Monday, she had all of her teeth pulled because of decay.
"I don't know if I have other health effects. I want to find out, but I'm trying to get things taken care of one thing at a time," she said.
She has not yet been sentenced for her crimes, but said she could face years in jail.
"It's scary. It's very scary. I worry about my kids," she said. "My thought it, I won't be here when they get married or see them having children. I'm scared."
-- Laura Collins