Crystal Meth: Is There Hope for Recovery?


In this second of a three-part series, Jimmy Palmieri, founder of the Tweakers Project, discusses the difficulties of stopping meth use. Part 1 looked at how gay men started using.

The Tweaker Project
Jimmy Palmieri
The statistics are scary, no doubt. The current numbers show that approximately 88 percent of meth users will relapse within the first 12 to 36 months. The numbers also show that those who go to rehab or outpatient treatment for longer than 30 days (a minimum of 90 seems to be the magic number at the moment) have almost double the chance of staying sober during the first two years. Those who don’t do therapy, whether group or private, will also have a harder climb up the hill of long term sobriety.

Most seem to agree that there has to be a “bottom” for a drug user to begin treating his or her illness of addiction. Hitting this bottom can be very different for each person. Motivating factors might be financial disaster, loss of family and friends, loss of health and self, or legal issues. Whatever it is, there is a way out.

Meth does not seem to have a chemical antithesis, so a biological intervention is probably not the answer. However, addressing problems of depression, bi-polar disorder, or undiagnosed schizophrenia, can help immensely if it exists. A doctor treating underlying mental illness can assist the user from once again self-medicating, in search of “feeling better.”

Relapsing, can, and many times is, more damaging than the problem of addiction surfacing for the first time. The user’s body may not have healed from the first go round, there may still be signs of mental paranoia, and the feelings of shame and hopelessness can be tenfold. The bottom can be significantly worse, and getting back to sobriety can seem almost impossible. The term, “You f*cked up, now fix up”, although sounding harsh, can actually resonate with many relapsing addicts. Accepting the fact that it was a mistake, and it can be fixed, is just part of the process. It is what it is.

It’s been said that when an addict makes a commitment to staying sober for sobriety’s sake and no other reason, there can be long term success. When there is no undo pressure for doing it for anyone else but himself, and for no other reason than to live a life free of meth and all of the destruction that comes with it, many addicts can make huge strides. One day at a time with nothing else but the promise of being clean today, is a simple but effective method.


While making no recommendations, there are many ways to achieve sobriety, such as 12-step programs, group or private therapy, in- or outpatient treatment, psychiatric care as well as medical care, and in some instances a spiritual path. These or a combination of any of them together may prove successful, although anyone’s sobriety is completely his own. Not every plan will work for every person.

We will look at what comes next in the last of this three-part series.

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.

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Ms. Toni
8 years ago

I have a daughter who is a meth smoker since 15 but now uses intravenously she’s now 33 she has 4 children we eventually had to remove from home. I’m 51 and getting tired. Two of the children are special needs. She tells us to leave her alone and she doesn’t want to stop she now prostitute her body and God only knows what else my question is will she ever stop and is it possible to recover. Or is it a waste of time? We have been holding on for hope these past 4 years. The longest shr can… Read more »

9 years ago

I need help for my brother! 15 years of meth use. I’ve yelled n screamed n just mentally tortured him. Now I feel different, the only way I have left is be supportive as a little brother. Love him, talking soft, and trying to have him open up to me cause he has no one left in his life. I’m afraid it’s too late. Am I wrong? He’s vary complicated and emotional. Makes me wanna just cry like a little kid most the time I look at him now. Help. Or I’ll donate, whatever it takes. I have a small… Read more »

Bobby Whipkey
10 years ago

There is a reason for high relapse between day 45 and day 90. When I went to Las Encinas Hospital for treatment, Dr. Drew was the Wednesday night instructor in the meeting. He said when you stop using meth, your brain chemicals wake up after a few days and begin to produce it’s own natural “feel good” chemicals. In fact, it over produces. That’s why people feel great in their first 30 days. Around day 45, your brain slows way down again, under producing. people often feel miserable again during this period, almost as bad as when they quit the… Read more »

Dale Davis
Dale Davis
10 years ago

I started doin meth at the age of 15 til I was 41 had a few months clean in between never a long period of time.i have had no. Desire for 31 months sobriety is my world now. This is awsome what you doin. Thanks Dale D

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