I probably cannot complain when an occasional addict writes about his addictions and their source drugs and the result is a bit messy. However, for a man who earns his living as a writer/journalist and has experience in radio and the law, this book could have done with some more general and grammatical editing. Part of what is simultaneously the strength and problem with the book is the relative recency of Williams’ escape from the grip of Ice and its impact on him.
This is, then a quite important work for giving its reader some clear insights into the origins and nature of Ice usage and its impacts, personal and social. While it is clear that there are those who claim to recreational, party or only occasional use of this drug (as with most others) there is clear evidence of damage accruing to all social and educational levels of society and with its proven capacity for a vicious physical addiction, one has to take such claims with the token pinch of salt.
Williams had a particularly difficult set of background experiences with patterns of drug use and abuse and poor interrelationship skills and experiences that set him onto his pathway to multiple addictions and eventually psychosis.
I have a particular interest in this drug as a good friend watched his ex fall sway to Ice so that an individual once ranked mostly highly by his personal peers actually lost his position. This despite the best efforts of family and friends at intervention. I think there is a particular concern for gay men as this drug has had a long association with the gay community from its earliest days as ‘Bennnys’ through speed and powdered Meth to contemporary discussion as to how to identify ‘crystal queens’ with their insatiable desire for endless (yet peculiarly empty) sexual stimulation. Williams (who is gay) notes this in himself and others.
The structure of the book with objective scientific objective material interleaved with Williams recounting of his experiences works well for me most of the time but occasionally became disruptive and needing more editing. On the other hand, this is a talented writer and he exposes a great deal about himself. I found this very useful and sometimes usefully insightful. Like most of us, however, he often had difficulty seeing the trees for the grass.
The principal kernel of the book lies in his attempt at a gonzo journalism experience in which he embeds himself in an Ice-using household which was mostly dysfunctional. Given the current spate of violent apparent unreasoned crimes and shocking events involving the neglect and outright abuse of children and babies this makes stark reading, though the apparent survival and success of one young member of the household gives hope while William’s own awareness in eventually calling in DOCS on the neglected twin boys is also a ray of hope.
All told, a book I can recommend to anyone who has heard of ice and wants to plumb it highs and lows from a personal point of view.
I would like to include in this note two quotes from the text. First a description on first injecting
‘As the syringe was brought forward, I felt as if I was waiting for a Christmas present. Not every meth trip is the same, though they are almost always good if you don’t do it all the time – even then, the effect of a syringe full of meth will always be better that (sic) doing your taxes, or working out how much of your pay will go on your rent. On this morning, my mouth watered, my throat tickled, and I took a deep breath in anticipation. He slipped the needle in painlessly: as it hit the vein, the syringe filled with deep, red blood – signifying that an exciting taboo had been broken … Until I took meth I didn’t believe it was possible for a human being to feel so relaxed, alert, confident, euphoric, calm and energised at the same time. I felt sex, danger and mystery, right through my skin, all over my skin, enlarging my heart to the size of a balloon as I floated off into a land of dream and dance and immortality, excited by my rejection of everything I’d been taught about hard work being the only thing that can bring real happiness .. I felt energised by an edgy feeling of superiority, as if all the stupid, ordinary straights getting up for work were being ‘left behind’.
Second, on violence and anger experienced.
While I have to admit to getting into the odd fight before I became a meth addict, I had never before experienced such moments of blood lust. On ice, I had moments when the ground seemed to split in front of me, when meaning changed, and I experienced what felt like aberrant, ancient repressed impulses. In those moments, inflicting pain felt like an exciting transgressive act of destiny. Where somehow all the pain, oppression, and condescension I had experienced as a human, and especially as a gay man, could be overcome by a single, spectacular act of cruelty perpetrated on another person. That person’s feelings seemed positively inconsequential to the excitement of doing harm’