The study investigated the crystal methamphetamine problem and its trends of abuse in the context of Cape Town, South Africa. Individuals’ stories about their subjective understanding of their dependence on crystal methamphetamine were collected. Onset of use was often driven by curiosity and/or peer pressure, and to avoid states of psychological discomfort. Crystal methamphetamine ubiquity appeared to be highly influential in the onset and maintenance of the substance’s consumption. A range of debilitating physiological and psychological symptoms comprised the state of dependence. The presence of psychotic symptoms was rife within the sample and was often indicative of severe and prolonged crystal methamphetamine use. An inability to function within the external ‘drug-free reality’ was characterised by participants not being able to fulfil responsibilities and thus was also suggestive of maladaptive patterns of use. Some female participants’ narratives also pointed towards the association of crystal methamphetamine use and sexual risk-taking behaviours. Identifying goals and a perceived sense of purpose appeared important in motivating the individual along the path of recovery.