NASHVILLE, Tenn (WKRN) — Zach Livingston has been battling addiction since age 12.
He says it started with alcohol, then marijuana, pills, and heroin. But there was one drug worse than the others.
“The methamphetamine is the one that really grabbed hold. Whenever I did meth, it was like I was untouchable. I felt almost invincible. You know what I mean? Kind of like I could do anything,” Livingston said.
Dr. Peter Martin, Director of The Addiction Center at Vanderbilt’s Psychiatric Hospital, calls meth a “big-league stimulant” that “revs up” the body.
According to Martin, when meth enters the body it boosts dopamine levels in the brain, making users feel good. Martin says that’s what makes meth so addictive. It’s powerful, pleasurable, and people can’t put it down.
“The sense of euphoria that came from that was—I can’t even really articulate it,” Livingston said.
“Then it starts getting worse. They start neglecting their health. They start neglecting their looks,” Martin said.
That’s exactly what happened to Livingston. He was always focused on his next fix, instead of his hygiene.
“Haircuts? Oh we don’t need those anymore. Toothpaste? Ah I hope I don’t run out anymore. I couldn’t eat anything at all. Most of the time the best I could stomach would be like a half of a Gatorade over a 24 hour day,” Livingston said.
Livingston says he lost weight, lost contact with friends and family, and slowly lost his mind.
“It was like whatever meth says I do… I do”
Eventually Livingston says meth led him to rob a Walgreens because he was so desperate for more drug money.
It landed him in jail. But even that wasn’t enough for him to kick the habit. Weeks later Livingston says he injected meth into his body again.
“I overdosed and I flatlined. I was legally dead for five minutes that they know of. They de-fibbed me repeatedly right there on the floor in front of everybody in the middle of the night,” Livingston said.
That was his wake up call.
Livingston checked into his fifth and final rehab center three years ago and got clean.
“One never cures these disorders. One teaches people how to avoid the destructive effects of these disorders,” Martin said.
Today you’ll find Livingston teaching other addicts at the Nashville Recovery Center that there are ways to overcome meth’s addictive powers, and get life back on track.
“Today I actually get to be a son. I get to be a brother. A grandson. I get to be a genuine friend. Recovery is possible. It doesn’t have to be hopeless. You don’t have to feel the way I did for as long as I did,” Livingston said.
If you or someone you know is struggling with meth addiction, you can call the Nashville Recovery Center at 833-615-2019.
You can also call the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health helpline at 1-800-662-4357.