Meth Q & A

By Author's name withheld
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*To protect the people involved the names have been changed.

Illustration by Brian Lopez-Santos, 17, Marshall HS

One of my dad’s girlfriends introduced me to weed when I was 13. The first time I smoked I loved it. I started smoking multiple times every day.

Before I started, I’d wanted to get away from everything. I always felt like I didn’t fit in. My life was going downhill. My grades were getting worse and worse. School sucked. People made fun of me for being a nerd. I was looking for a place to belong. But when I started smoking, I thought my life was complete and that all I needed was weed to truly feel happy.

I started making friends with people who smoked weed. Drugs were easy to get. There were two drug dealers on my block and three more down the street. I always had a way to get high, whether I was spending my allowance or sharing weed and smoking with my friends. I started going to school high and sometimes smoking weed during school. Eventually I skipped classes to get high.

My older brother Kevin didn’t smoke cigs or anything. He was a good boy. I thought it would be funny to get Kevin stoned. I begged Kevin to smoke. He kept saying no, until he finally gave in 20 minutes later. From that day on my brother and I were partners in crime, always on a mission to get high. We covered for each other so neither of us would get in trouble.

Two years later, Kevin started using meth. I yelled at him and I told him I hated it. I wanted him to stop and told him, “Don’t you see we lost everything due to meth? Look what happened to mom and our brother. Why do you think they aren’t here?” Kevin looked at me and then he looked down, but didn’t say anything. My mom was a meth addict and left when I was 3. My oldest brother, also a meth addict, got locked up when he was 14 and is still serving time.

Everyone else was doing it, why shouldn’t I?

I blamed myself for a lot of Kevin’s drug use. Six months later he went to rehab in Northridge. I thought I would never do meth. I thought, “Why is everyone leaving me? Why is everyone choosing this over me?” My mom and my brothers, my dad’s old girlfriends. What’s so great about meth? I decided I wanted to try it.

The first time I used meth was at Birmingham High. My brother Kevin had gone there and people thought I would be like him. At lunch this girl came up to me and we started talking. She asked me what drugs I used. I lied and said meth. We went to the bathroom. We went into a stall, locked the door and she pulled a glass pipe out of her bra and passed it to me and said, “You hit it first.” I didn’t know what I was doing. I smoked it wrong and nothing happened. We hung out for about 10 minutes and she told me to meet her by a tree after school and we could kick it. The next day, I started to get the hang of it. When I smoked I really got high. The world was so different. It felt like I was in a dream. Things I thought I was imaginaing were actually happening. I loved it way too much. Later I was walking home and all I could think about was how good I felt.

I never thought I would get addicted. Seeing what meth did to everybody else, I thought that’s them, I’m a different person. I saw people lose weight fast. Their teeth would rot and they were angrier. I thought I was stronger than that. But instantly, I was using every day. I couldn’t stop. I felt depressed and sick when I wasn’t high. My body told me I needed it to feel better.

I used to be this polite girl—so nice people would take advantage of me. After I started using meth I completely changed. Every day I was fighting people (mostly guys). My knuckles were always bloody. I also wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t eating. I was really skinny. I was like an empty skeleton roaming the world, just taking up space. I didn’t care about how I looked. I would just throw whatever on. I loved to wear tutus. I also remember walking around in a nurse costume with duct tape strapped around me. I had a thing for freaking people out. I would jump in trash cans, say and do anything. I didn’t care how bad it made me look as long as I got a rise out of them. Nothing mattered as long as I was high.

I was talking to people who weren’t there

One day at school I was sitting in the middle of the football field hallucinating. I thought I was talking to people, telling them not to use drugs. School let out and people came outside and saw me. I don’t know how long they were standing there. Then it hit me that I wasn’t talking to anyone. It felt like the whole school was watching. I opened my eyes and saw the world for what it was.

Everything I used to love, I hated. I stopped singing, writing, playing sports and being with my true friends. I just wanted to be with people who were getting high.

I lied to everyone to hide my drug use. I only went to school about seven days a month. I made up friends to talk to my dad about so it would seem like I was going to school. I could tell in his eyes that he knew I was lying. All of us were meth addicts—me, my mother and my two brothers. I think he didn’t want to see my life falling apart, so he played it off as if everything was all right. I wish he would’ve stopped me and helped me get better.

Nine months after I started using meth, I overdosed. I was with a friend and she dropped me off on the street not far from my house at 2 a.m. I started walking home. I started hallucinating. It was scary. I was hiding underneath cars and trying to climb on roofs. I thought a swarm of cops and dogs were after me. I was running. I hallucinated that a cop dog had gotten me and that’s when I fell in the middle of street. I don’t remember what happened after that. Someone called the police. My dad was in the ambulance with me. He told me that my eyes had turned yellow, I wouldn’t stop screaming and I kept throwing up. They thought I was going to die.

At the hospital I woke up in a diaper and thought, “What the hell?” I felt like I was back to being a baby. I couldn’t do anything on my own. Two nurses would come and put me on a plastic toilet and I had to learn how to walk all over again. I had messed up my body so much. After I overdosed I thought, “I’ve just been caught for every bad thing I’d done.”

My dad told me I needed help, but I told him, “Wherever you send me I’ll get out.” First, my dad sent me to a rehab facility in Santa Clarita where I stayed for three months. There would be days when I wanted to be clean because I had almost died. I’d be dedicated to getting better some days and other days I’d wake up and wonder, “Why am I still here? Why don’t I pick up the phone and call my friends to come get me?”

Then my dad sent me to a rehab facility in Provo, Utah where I couldn’t run away. It was a lockdown facility where I couldn’t leave, had limited visits, was told when I could do anything, had to walk in single file lines, even my clothes had to be approved. There were about 120 girls there. They spent a month teaching everyone all the rules. It was really, really strict. You had to sleep under the sheet and the comforter. You couldn’t sit and look out the window because they thought you were coming up with ways to escape. And they made you change rooms a lot to see how you got along with different people in different settings. I thought, “I have to do good, I can’t mess up because I have to get out of here.” I wanted to be perfect so my dad would take me home.

At rehab I missed my family

Where to get help

24/7 drug treatment program referrals: (800) 662-4357
TeenLine: (800) 852-8336

After being in Provo for three months, I started missing my dad. That hit me really hard. It made me realize how much I missed out. I would stay up at night crying. When my cousin got pregnant she said she wanted me in the delivery room. I wrote her back, “Because I was getting high, I can’t be there.” It sucked not being there.

At the table in the cafeteria, the other girls would tell stories of good times in their lives. The rules were that you couldn’t talk about getting high or anything negative. I didn’t have any stories. I couldn’t remember a lot of times because I had been high. I missed out on life because I got into drugs at a young age. They would talk about going to the park and actually hanging out, not getting high. I started realizing my whole life was wrapped around drugs. All I could say was, “Me and my brother used to go skating in Panorama City.” I don’t know how people could stand talking to me because I always said the same thing.

After a year in Provo I had shown I was responsible and trustworthy. I’d become a mentor for other girls. My therapist told me I was ready to go home. I moved back to L.A. I was really excited to come home because I had more freedom. But I didn’t know how it would feel to be sober and not have people watching over me 24/7. I was afraid I’d go back to using. To help with the transition, I moved into a group home with five other girls—some of them have behavioral problems and some have drug addictions like me. The staff is always there, but they’re not always on our backs like in Provo. I’ve been back for a year and I’ve been clean for more than two years.

Now that I’m sober I love skating, writing, hanging with my new friends and spending time with my dad. I’m president of student government and on the newspaper at school. I really enjoy all those activities. They make me feel like I have a purpose in life and that I’m not just taking up space.

Getting clean was really a struggle, but it’s the best thing I have ever done. I had to get rid of my old friends and not go to the places where I used to hang out because they would trigger the feeling of wanting to get high. Whenever I pass by a friend’s house or see one of them walking down the street, my mindset changes and I start to fall into who I used to be. Sometimes when I’m sitting somewhere or watching a movie, I’ll say, “I wish I was high” or “This would be funny if I was high.” Then I think, “Just get that thought out of your head.” It took time for me to be able to ignore those thoughts. Even though I want to be clean, I know there’s a part of me that loves drugs. But I think of the consequences. I think about my dad and how much my life has changed for the better since I got sober. I’ve worked so hard to change and it would be stupid to throw it all away.