But just recently Chris (not his real name) revealed his struggle with an ice addiction in a bid to show not all drug addicts are “down-and-outs with missing teeth”.
Chris is a close friend of mine and only recently told me of his meth addiction. I was shocked. I had no idea. He believes no-one is aware of his addiction. “Obviously my three drug dealers know,” he said. I interrupted. “Three?”
“Yep, three. You always need more than one because when one runs out, you contact the other. Dealers are notoriously unreliable. You put the feelers out to all of them and see who messages back first,” Chris said.
Chris is in his late 30s, holds down a well-paying job in the tech sector and told me he had always managed to keep his addiction a secret.
Chris’s girlfriend of a year was the only other person who knew of his meth addiction. That was until he told me. I asked him why he told me.
“I’m sick of the media’s perception that all meth addicts are down and outs with teeth missing who don’t feed their kids and steal from everyone,” he said.
“I’ve never stolen from anyone, nor resorted to crime. I have no money. When I spend it, it’s gone.” He is now struggling with debt.
Chris earns a little over $100,000 a year, has consolidated debt twice and maxed out his three credit cards again. That was all in 14 months.
He now owes $80,000 in total between a personal loan and credit cards. Tears start to well in his eyes
“I think I’ve probably spent $200,000 on meth over the years and do you know what I have to show for it?” he asked me rhetorically.
“Nothing. Debt. I’m almost 40. I should own a house, but instead I have nothing to show for my life.
“I don’t deserve the love of people, nor the friendship. I’m a selfish addict who reverts to his shell in order to feed my addiction.”
Chris fought back the tears and emotion just long enough to get out the words that truly shocked me.
“Some days I wished I was dead or would die in an accident or similar. If I went to a doctor and they told me I had cancer, I wouldn’t have fought it. I’d say let it takes its course and let me die.”
His tears turned to uncontrollable crying as his thoughts go to his teenage daughter.
“What have I done for her? I disappear for vast amounts of time and she always seems to forgive me. When I see her I want to spoil her, but I go months without seeing or talking to her,” he said. ‘There is almost no place to go to help you fight the addiction’
Chris is a wreck, but determined to fight his addiction. He feels though there is no support.
“There is almost no place to go to help you fight the addiction,” Chris said.
“If the Government was truly keen to fix this problem there would be clinics everywhere. I checked out clinics for meth addiction and unless you have a crap load of money, you can’t get the help you need.”
Chris laughed before adding: “Tell me one meth addict with a crap load of money? There aren’t any.” I asked Chris why he stopped and he quickly replied: “Money, mainly.” Chris then shocked me for the second time that evening.
“I became the person I never thought I would become. I hurt my girlfriend, all because I wanted drugs,” he said.
He sat silently and I did not want to ask. He wept.
“We started arguing and before long she slapped me across the face. I cracked. I stopped her from leaving the house and I was unknowingly strangling her,” he said.
“She bit me because she didn’t have the breath to force the words from her mouth to say I was choking her.
“I stopped and ran away from her knowing my actions were of the lowest forms of society who beat women to make themselves feel stronger. I felt weak. I felt little. I felt ashamed.
“She told me the next day that she thought she was honestly going to die that night. I never thought I would be one who dealt out domestic violence, but here I am.”
He was ashamed of himself. I was ashamed of him. I shook my head at him in disbelief more than anything else.
After a long silence Chris continued: “This was the turning point. I knew it was time to put meth behind me.” Government-funding needed, not ‘pretend handouts’
That was nearly three weeks ago and Chris is still clean. His hurt is still raw, as is his embarrassment for what he has done and having to finally admit it to someone.
“I do however want people out there to know this drug can affect all socio-economic groups, all types of people and all families,” Chris said.
“I come from a loving family and there have been no tragic circumstances or past indiscretions that have led me down this path.
“Meth addicts are not all down and outs, and deserve help. Not some pretend handout from politicians who walk out in front of the media to falsely tell us this ‘epidemic’ is being treated seriously, yet give no serious money to help combat this problem.
“Meth is meth. It’s a drug which can consume people, but so is alcohol and tobacco. If governments want to seriously tackle these issues, they need to use the taxes they make from the latter to seriously help those in need.”
Chris finishes our catch up by telling me both he and his partner will be supporting White Ribbon Day on November 25 this year, a campaign to stop violence against women. He left me with one final quote.
“I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. This is my oath.”