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Learning to Live (and Love) Without Crystal Meth

It’s been seven years since I took my first hit of meth, but I can recall it like it was yesterday.

Despite abusing drugs and drinking, I always showed up to work and stayed connected to my family. That was the typical “New York life” for a twenty-something artist as far as I was concerned. But at twenty-seven – shortly after the death of my father – my substance abuse became unmanageable and I walked into recovery.

An Enticing Introduction to Meth

While in treatment, I began hearing stories of crystal meth – stories that mostly came from other gay men. They regaled tales of endless sex filled days and nights captured by an insatiable lust unlike any other. I know they must have also shared the hell they went through along with the glory, but all I remembered were the incredible sex stories.

And then one night, the perfect storm hit: An on-line hook up introduced me to smoking crystal and that was it: I was hooked.

The next four years were the most horrific of my life. I quickly graduated to injecting the drug and found myself powerless in every sense of the word. I’d been able to put down alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy, but Tina (a common street name for meth) had me in her clutches and seduced me like no lover ever could.

Saying Goodbye isn’t Easy

I completed a rehab program and, though I had quit meth, its effects still lingered. I suffered from awkward teenage clumsiness; I’d trip and fall over nothing or drop things for no reason. My brain just couldn’t get the messages to my hands in time and, before I knew it, “crash,” there went another dish in the garbage.

Meth rage is a common symptom that can get worse with sobriety. It certainly did for me. I’d become enraged over my inability to properly organize the Tupperware cabinet.-James Michael AngeloI also noticed that my short-term memory was shot. I couldn’t remember something I’d just read or the name of someone I’d just met. I was exhausted and needed a nap by three o’clock every day. I stayed unemployable for two years; I had no patience for people and my volatile anger would eventually get me fired.

Meth rage is a common symptom that often times gets worse when stopping use. It certainly did for me. I’d become enraged over my inability to properly organize the Tupperware cabinet. This did a number on what little self-esteem I had left. I needed to learn compassion and patience for myself or I was surely going to relapse.

It’s been three and a half years since my last high and things are getting better. Though crystal is, in my opinion, the most destructive and hardest drug habit to kick, it’s certainly not impossible.

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Let’s Talk About Sex

One of my dear friends, acclaimed writer, celebrity interviewer and editor Kevin Sessums, is no stranger to the pitfalls of crystal meth.

In his latest memoir, I Left It on the Mountain, Kevin details the insanity that meth brought to his charmed Hollywood life. And when I asked him to weigh in on this piece, he shined a light on one particular and vitally important aspect of post-crystal recovery – intimacy.

“The after effect of meth for me is a kind of absence more than an effect. I haven’t had sex since I got sober. I attempted to have it twice and it didn’t work. For me, sex was still wrapped up in the hedonistic, animalistic quality of the level of sex when on meth,” said Kevin.

“Once I got sober, I ceased in my sobriety to want recreational sex of any kind. Maybe it’s because meth-free sex scares me more than my being indifferent toward it. I do know that I feel longing for the first time…regarding love and sexuality. Longing has replaced cruising for me. Intimacy is now the kinkiest thing I can think of trying at this point in my life.”

Additional Reading: Quiz: Are You Addicted to Crystal Meth?

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