I wrote an article a few years ago about spotting signs of meth use. The response to that article, even three years later, has been overwhelming. It’s gratifying to get the emails that I do, but also disheartening to see that so many people are still living with users of this horrible drug. I’ve tried to answer as many emails as I can on this issue, but there is one piece of advice that I’ve given so often, that I thought it might be time to just write it once for everyone to read, and it happened to me. This is when the loved one of a meth user becomes obsessed with trying to prove or cure the addiction.
In my own case, my wife always categorically denied her use – even though it was painfully obvious that she was high or crashing. To quote the 1999 film American Beauty, “Never underestimate the power of denial.” I knew. She knew. She knew I knew… yet she stuck to her denials. This drove me crazy, so I went on a quest to prove once and for all that she was using. When she was gone, I’d snoop through her stuff. I’d go through the bathroom with a fine-tooth comb. I tried listening to her phone calls and even following her. In other words, I became an addict of sorts – addicted to proving her use. I’m embarrassed to think back at how I acted. And I even had a few “successes” in this department. I once found a bag of speed hidden between two towels in the closet. She said it must have been her brother’s – who had been there a month earlier (which also made no sense, because I had washed those towels numerous times since his departure). It was flimsy to the point of humorous, but she stuck with it.
Looking back, I realize now that even catching a meth user in the act will rarely get them to admit anything. And the pursuit of catching, proving, or curing meth use is a treacherous road to travel. It’s also a distraction. Rather than being sucked into these games, the focus should be taking care of yourself (and kids, if you have any) and getting your loved one help – in that order.
I think back to all the energy I wasted playing that game – of obsessing about her use – and now feel that it was an exercise in futility. I tried talking to her about her use when she was not high, crashing, or rebounding… and she still wouldn’t budge. That should have been my sign that I was in a war I couldn’t win.
Every meth user and their loved ones have a unique story. Not everything works for everyone. In my case, I basically took the kids and left her to hit rock bottom without us there to watch. Which she did, by the way. As easy as the decision to leave should have been for me to make, it wasn’t. We had been together for over a decade and had children together. Try explaining to an 8-year old why mom suddenly doesn’t live there anymore.
The point of this article is to bring to light one of the hidden byproducts of living with a meth user, and that is to avoid getting caught up in the cat and mouse game that you’ll be so tempted to play. Partaking in this game will almost certainly make you an addict of sorts, thus placing you at the same level on which your meth-using loved one exists.