A 2013 study found that seven percent of Australians aged 14 years and older reported using ice at some point in their life. Numbers aren't yet available for 2014 but we're told they're rising. But who's smoking this socially defunct drug? Presumably the desperate, homeless, or hopeless. Surely no one with a job.
But that's not the full story. People with good jobs on ice really aren't so hard to find. Like Alex (name has been changed). He works in the central office of a non-disclosed national bank as a lender. Until last year he was using the drug regularly at work. Here's how he did it.
Banking is a stressful environment. People who say banking isn't stressful are just insane. They hire people who are book smart but not that socially switched on. So they're like empty vessels, without personality. You're working with four or five of them and they're just talking about their cat and you're thinking that you'd smoke or drink anything to get away from them.
I never liked ice when I was younger. I was all about the pills. In the 2000s the quality of the pills was fantastic but then they went to shit all of a sudden and everyone moved to shard. So ice became a weekend thing. We'd smoke on the weekend then spend the week coming down.
Productivity was just through the roof, which is why management didn't care.
So I'd be in this routine, we used to call it manic Mondays, terrible Tuesdays, Westgate Wednesdays… Thursdays were actually alright because you were coming back to Friday again. I was working for the weekend, then I could go to my friend's house and smoke up again. We used to call it the never ending story.
Doing it at work, that was kind of taboo. So I said I'd just smoke it once but on the first hit I got that peak. It was like phwooaaa, I'm rocking. I was talking to people and typing at a million miles an hour. I could answer like 5000 phone calls and just keep going. Productivity was through the roof, which is why management didn't care. I'd be like I'm absolutely smashing this out, I've done all my work, I've done everything! Then a pattern formed and it became Monday, then Wednesday, and then it came to a point where the days didn't matter anymore.
The come down is really rough. You need Xanax. I don't know how people do it without Xanax. It's the no-sleeping thing that kills you, the sleep deprivation. But Xanax changed the game. We called it surfing, you know when you're surfing? Surfing USA. If you have a Xanax just by itself you've got 20 minutes before you're out. And if you have a puff by itself you're just fucking off your face. But together, they balance themselves out. We called Xanax the get out of jail free card.
I didn't think anyone else did it. The bank is very straight edge, but crystal meth was all over the place at Christmas parties. You go to the Christmas party and you can tell who the tweakers were because they are were like, beaming. They say come to the toilet and then you're like oh my god, that guy is in that department and that guy works in accounts. Christmas parties are where you pick it. So yeah, the last four Christmas parties people were smoking in the toilet. Like an undercurrent thing.
I never cared about work but I still felt ashamed most of the time. It was like you were only doing it for the excitement. I wanted to be better, I wanted to progress. I wanted to feel better and have more money and do nice things and be with nice people. I hadn't been clean in a long time because a younger me was always on gear. It's alcohol man, once you've drank it's a gateway drug to everything else.
Anxiety and panic attacks were common. They happened in meetings and you'd just be holding on because you're coming down. I used to take a lot of time off work if I was high or coming down and I'd feel bad because I wasn't actually sick. I'd just take enough time to fix myself, but it takes weeks to do it properly. And my general mood was just shit.
Finally, I saw that meme saying it's 2014 and I'm still a piece of shit and I thought I am. I just wasn't doing anything positive, so I stopped. I don't like to do things in halves. I just stopped taking it one day and I was a mess. I couldn't even go to Safeway and get a sandwich. Every part of my body was telling me to run away. But I think that was the adverse effects of Xanax and not the meth. I've done a complete 180 now. I didn't even drink last weekend.
It wasn't detrimental to my career but it wasn't a progression thing either. It was just such a focal point that I didn't bother progressing with anything else. No one on crystal meth has ever said to me, hey I got a new job man or I got a new girlfriend. None of that happened to me either. I just lost years really. I didn't go out for dinner in like two years. It took me four months solid to get off of it. And you know what, I just heard that I got a new job. Just then. I wouldn't have got it if I was still using.
Illustrations by Michael Hili
Interview by Charlie Braithwaite. Follow him on Twitter: @clbraith
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