The statistics are scary, no doubt. The current numbers show that approximately 88 percent of meth users will relapse within the first 12 to 36 months. The numbers also show that those who go to rehab or outpatient treatment for longer than 30 days (a minimum of 90 seems to be the magic number at the moment) have almost double the chance of staying sober during the first two years. Those who don’t do therapy, whether group or private, will also have a harder climb up the hill of long term sobriety.
Most seem to agree that there has to be a “bottom” for a drug user to begin treating his or her illness of addiction. Hitting this bottom can be very different for each person. Motivating factors might be financial disaster, loss of family and friends, loss of health and self, or legal issues. Whatever it is, there is a way out.
Meth does not seem to have a chemical antithesis, so a biological intervention is probably not the answer. However, addressing problems of depression, bi-polar disorder, or undiagnosed schizophrenia, can help immensely if it exists. A doctor treating underlying mental illness can assist the user from once again self-medicating, in search of “feeling better.”
Relapsing, can, and many times is, more damaging than the problem of addiction surfacing for the first time. The user’s body may not have healed from the first go round, there may still be signs of mental paranoia, and the feelings of shame and hopelessness can be tenfold. The bottom can be significantly worse, and getting back to sobriety can seem almost impossible. The term, “You f*cked up, now fix up”, although sounding harsh, can actually resonate with many relapsing addicts. Accepting the fact that it was a mistake, and it can be fixed, is just part of the process. It is what it is.
It’s been said that when an addict makes a commitment to staying sober for sobriety’s sake and no other reason, there can be long term success. When there is no undo pressure for doing it for anyone else but himself, and for no other reason than to live a life free of meth and all of the destruction that comes with it, many addicts can make huge strides. One day at a time with nothing else but the promise of being clean today, is a simple but effective method.
While making no recommendations, there are many ways to achieve sobriety, such as 12-step programs, group or private therapy, in- or outpatient treatment, psychiatric care as well as medical care, and in some instances a spiritual path. These or a combination of any of them together may prove successful, although anyone’s sobriety is completely his own. Not every plan will work for every person.
We will look at what comes next in the last of this three-part series.
Jimmy Palmieri is the founder of The Tweakers Project. He currently serves as a human services commissioner for the City of West Hollywood and sits on the community advisory board for the West Hollywood Project, funded by Los Angeles County.