I did a double degree while being a full-time ice user

November 12, 2015
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In the last year, Phoebe* was living a typical student life: finishing her double degree, holding down a bar job and volunteering at a charity. She was also a full-time ice user. Hijacked sat down to talk to Phoebe about what it's like taking ice.

Why did you start taking ice?

I took it because it was just in front of me. Someone said, “Here, try some ice.” To be honest I had never heard of it before then as a drug. I had never heard negative or positive things about it. It just hadn’t run in my circles.

How did it make you feel?

We used to call it ‘synthetic motivation’ because we got to do all the things that we had no motivation for with a lot of fun energy. You’re not happy, you’re not sad, [you’re] just really interested in everything and exceptionally chatty. You’ve got no idea you haven’t stopped talking for the last two days and you haven’t eaten a single thing.

Everybody tells you that you’re going to have super human strength and all this stuff, but it’s just like you’re super awake, super interested in things – even the most boring of things. Sometimes that can be a negative thing. If you get focused on finding ingrown hairs for instance, well, that’s what you’re doing for the next three hours.

How did you consume the drug?

I smoked it. You can do it three ways: you can smoke it, snort it or inject it.

[With] smoking you get the least amount of absorption, then snorting and injecting. Injecting it for me has always been a big no. I never wanted to do anything to increase my absorption of it because I wanted to get off it.

I had double the amount of time to do everything because I wasn’t sleeping ... I would learn entire subjects in five hours.

How did using meth affect your degree and other commitments?

At the beginning, it made everything so much better. I was acing everything. I had double the amount of time to do everything because I wasn’t sleeping. For three of my exams – biology, chemistry and philosophy – I hadn’t been to a single lecture. Twelve hours before each exam, I got a couple of points and studied. It all clicked; I would learn entire subjects in five hours.

What did you do when you were on it?

There’s a lot of hanging out and just talking. It’s not a party drug - people don’t often go out and smoke pipes. Because it’s so unacceptable to be bringing out pipes with people who don’t smoke pipes, you start only hanging out with people who smoke pipes.

One night we were trying to work out where two countries were in relation to each other. Because I’m a history buff, we started recalling where all the historical wars were, so we drew out the Middle East, I took Africa, then we did Europe. Finally we got to the Polynesian Islands and we went, “Ah, fuck, well get to that next week.”

Nerds on ice?

Yep, that went for three hours. You’ve got to stay away from Kmart. It’s 24-hours; it’s made for crack addicts. Families with children and crack addicts.

You choose it over paying your bills, you choose it over for paying your rego, you choose it over paying your family back money you borrowed to buy meth. You choose it over everything.

What were the negative consequences for you?

You lose life? Everything. You become so in your own shell. You only hang out with people smoking pipes. I didn’t want to see my old friends because I didn’t want to lie to them. I could pretend to be old me - I knew how to do that - but it was so painful not being old me that I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to be reminded I had gone so far, that I was disappearing.

Friends cut you off, you start secluding yourself. You don’t know how you’re going to get through the days if you don’t have it. You’ve tried to get off it and it hasn’t gone well.

You choose it over paying your bills, you choose it over for paying your rego, you choose it over paying your family back money you borrowed to buy meth. You choose it over everything.

I remember being like, “Why am I hell bent on staying here in this world? I’m avoiding my family and friends. I’m alone in a world I hate, but every time I’m going to choose this drug.” It’s a fucking hard one.

One of the most interesting things is that I didn’t get my period for about a year because my body shut down anything it didn’t need to survive.

I definitely got shown a lot of things that I didn’t think were real. I saw a world that I was very naive to, that snapped me out of a lot of stupid thinking.

Any positive consequences?

I definitely got shown a lot of things that I didn’t think were real. I saw a world that I was very naive to, that snapped me out of a lot of stupid thinking.

A lot of ideas I had about drug trafficking, which is gun trafficking and human trafficking. I saw them all happen. I met someone who was about to be charged with [human trafficking]. It was a punch in the face. He’s sitting there and he’s telling me about it saying he can’t believe how someone nagged on him. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t go to the police because I couldn’t go to the police. I wanted to keep smoking meth, and to do that, I had to stay in this world … that meant not going to the police.

Most ice users don’t heavily get involved with this world; most people don’t become friends with their dealers. This isn’t a [case of] ‘if you do ice, you will then meet a human trafficker’. It’s just what happened to me, and I’m glad I saw some of it.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons. Note that this is one person's experience of taking ice and may not be reflective of how other users react. If you're seeking advice or support with ice use or know someone who is, click here for help in your state.

Cait Kelly

Cait Kelly studies journalism at La Trobe University.

Image: Heath Alseike, Flickr Creative Commons license

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