In this third of a three-part series, Jimmy Palmieri, founder of the Tweakers Project, discusses the possibilities of beating the odds on recovering from meth addiction, and why the effort is important. Read the first part on how gay men get started with meth here. And read the second part, on whether there is hope for recovery, here.
If getting sober isn’t easy, then staying sober might sound impossible. There’s no doubt he odds are staggeringly negative. But with focus, determination and vigilance those odds can and are being beaten by millions daily.
Some studies show that six out of 10 gay men have used meth more than once. Do the math, and it becomes apparent that many people in recovery are truly beating the pattern. It’s a one-day-at-a-time wellness project, and there are many things that have been found imperative and helpful in keeping sober.
Recovery may begin by taking an inventory of your current situation. What are the requirements? What will you be willing to do? Will you keep focused on staying well and make it a priority? All of this is individual and may need constant reassessment.
Changing playmates, playthings and places of play is a very common idea. Staying clear of triggering situations can help keep someone on track.
Millions of people over the years swear by 12-Step programs. They are defined programs based on spirituality, or a higher power as seen by each individual. They provide fellowship, accountability and a tangible working “program.”
Therapy, whether private or group, proves extremely helpful when trying to sort out feelings of desperation and paranoia. Discussing feelings and fears with a professional or with peers can be scary and exciting at the same time.
Being of service to others in need is a way of passing it forward or giving it back. Helping someone who may not have been fortunate enough to seek recovery yet can be a healing experience for both parties.
Suit up and show up. Most addicts became unreliable to themselves and others during periods of using. Accountability is a great motivator in keeping sober. Being punctual, reliable and present is a challenge that can help you in changing old habits. Others might eventually come around and believe in you once you begin believing in yourself.
Once you’ve had some time with sobriety, taking responsibility for past wreckages, while challenging, can be extremely helpful. Financial, personal and emotional debts can be fixed over time, which may help in the healing process.
I’m not recommending or stating a preference for any of these methods. Recovery is always an individualized process, and there is no wrong or right way to do it. That being said, keeping yourself healthy and away from “triggers,” focusing on staying well and using any of these methods and others, alone or in combinations with each other, might prove beneficial.
I have personally interviewed hundreds if not thousands of “tweakers,” gay men using or having used meth. I fully believe that there is hope. Over the past ten year I have watched so many people move on to such amazing lives once sobriety stuck. I also have seen some relapses, even chronic relapsing. But I still always have hope. There are a million reasons and excuses for gay men to feel we need to numb ourselves and use drugst. I am not preaching, and I understand the societal pressures. I just want to put it out there that gay men are worth the time. We are worth keeping ourselves healthy. We are worth not using, and we are deserve to have full and happy lives…..without meth.
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.