Even thinking about it now, my heart beats faster and this was more than a decade ago.
I walked into Adelaide’s Mars Bar and saw this hottie. The chase was on. His name was Seb and boy did he make me work for it. Months after first locking eyes, countless gym sessions, even some solariums, he finally relinquished those precious 10 digits of his mobile.
Within two months we would be naked in bed in a hotel in the Adelaide Hills. Drugs were part of our fun, whether by pipe, pill or powder. Money was never a problem as we both held down professional jobs.
Around lunchtime Seb asks me if I want have the best fuck of my life. Hmmm, I’m in a hotel in the Hills, he is completely hot, already in my top five shags of all time, and he reckons the best is yet to come. Sure.
Out of his bag Seb pulls out a brown bag and yellow bio-waste bin. Adelaide has a bikie culture and the ones linked to my family were anti-needles. My sense of retreat was quickly swallowed. Seeing the look on that sexy fucker’s face. Part naughty. Part resolve. All hot. Let’s do this.
After about 10 minutes of fiddling with spoons, filters and a boiling jug, Seb asks: “Are you ready?” Hells yes. “Relax. Trust me”. A day later, I had to agree with Seb. It was amazing.
I felt connected in a way I had never felt before. I performed better with no inhibitions. I finally felt like I was actually good at sex rather than being a bit of an awkward novice after a relatively late coming out in my early twenties.
I only shot up four or five times over the next two years. Despite this, I would later learn that day, that completely surreal, perfect day forever changed my brain chemistry.
The combination of a powerful drug with the single best sexual experience of my life, all wrapped up with a guy I really liked meant that a switch had been flicked.
When stressed at work my eyes would involuntarily close and I would think of that moment when Seb made my world go so warm. Tiffs or even stand up fights with Seb – I would just want a blast – even if just for a microsecond. When stuck in traffic, I would caress the vein, like it was cute puppy.
Then there were the associations with the good times. Forever associating sex with meth. Going on dates and thinking I’d be a better shag if I’m on it.
I left Adelaide to work in an engineering firm in Melbourne. New friends. A bar culture that was different meant that it wasn’t long before the association with meth was less powerful. Within a few years, it was almost gone.
Certainly the psychological lion was tamed and life was good, and my addictive personality enjoyed degustation hunting. The odd time meth was around me, it was pretty much double Adelaide prices and so I was almost smug in my dismissiveness of it and its role in my bygone era.
Sure if the pipe was passed around, I wouldn’t be rude, but some Red Bulls and some speed was more my thing if I needed to keep my eyes open in defiance of my body.
In 2010 I got a promotion and could move to Sydney. Fully on the company dime, including a four bedroom pad in Surry Hills. From the lesbian heartland of inner north of Melbourne to Surry Hills was enough to have Grindr and Manhunt melt my iPhone.
A mate from Adelaide moved into the company-paid pad. Life was good. Earning good money. No outgoings. The local catchment of boys was something to behold and the new boss was a good bloke. Enjoying yachts on the harbour. Champagne and single malts and the Opera Bar. This was living.
Within six weeks, I was chatting to my mate from Adelaide who was looking a little dusty in his room. Then I spied something. A yellow bio-hazard bin. My heart raced. I could no longer hear what he was saying. I had one focus and one alone. I wanna blast.
I interrupted him and asked “can you get crack?”
“Love its Sydney, it is easier to get than AIDS,” he said wryly.
“You got any picks left,” I asked urgently. He didn’t but he gave me directions to a vending machine? WTF Sydney has vending machines for needles?
Within two hours I had a gram of meth, and a nearly 10-year-old sleeping monster was awoken. But unlike most things that are not fed, this monster awoke and was strong and powerful, albeit very, very hungry.
The barebacking parties, playing with the packeties who would give up their bodies for a point or two and the completely recklessness all seemed normal. Hot even.
In a cruel curse of timing, my sister with borderline personality disorder tried to take her own life. I derailed in a spectacular way.
No harbourside drinks. All vampire hours. Beats. Orgies. Sex. Roaming Surry hills chasing something. Anything. Except daylight and sleep. Normal human interactions were on hold. I hadn’t used my kitchen except to boil a kettle for melting the meth in over a month.
My dismissal from work was seen from everybody except me. I lost my home quickly as it was work’s. I stayed in a hotel burning through my savings until I found myself in a queue at Centrelink Redfern. “What do you mean $316 a week is all I get? I can’t pay for a hotel on that.”
It would turn out one needle stick too many would leave me in a catatonic state. The one thing that had got me by, my brain and my education, was damaged.
Within 12 months of my vending machine visit, I no longer remembered that wiping my arse was part of the routine of going to the toilet. I didn’t clean my teeth. The temporary place I was staying was becoming like a crazy cat lady’s place, but I couldn’t see it.
A friendly doctor at Taylor Square Private Clinic saw the rapid decline and put me into contact with ACON. I qualified for some sessions with a guy called Brian who had an unshockable face. He was pivotal in my taking the first steps away from my hell that was my reality.
Next came the psychiatrist who was treating me for schizophrenia symptoms and other drugs for managing my addiction. Then the tender caress of the Salvos, who knew I was gay and didn’t give a fuck. Nor did they spread the word of their lord. They just helped a junky on Centrelink to keep a roof over his head and support to stay away from meth.
Then there was my mate from school. He was there most days and not once have we discussed injecting drugs, but he knew. He didn’t judge and now I am invited to join his young family in the dog park and swings at Coogee.
The degustations by then that I was enjoying now were made up of shit sandwiches of varying sizes. The foreclosures on my investments. The close shaves with police from former sins and that my mind no longer worked like it should, and I didn’t know that – meaning more bad decisions including very clumsily stealing from a dear friend to score drugs despite what has happened.
I had to learn to use my brain again; in fact I had to re-wire my brain’s response to stimulus. Through a concept I will forever be in awe of called neuroplasticity, I have returned to being independently able to function, and after 18 long months, I am finally working part time, but I am no longer an engineer.
But I am still an addict. This story was first written three months ago, and even finally putting it down, the call of meth was intense and was answered like a compliant servant to their Stockholm master, but sadly by myself, alone with just me and my controller in a mountain hut. More aptly described as a hideaway.
In some ways that was good. Like the reality has killed the addiction’s most powerful calls. But I am not kidding myself. I have lost everything, except my family and friends. So I have lost nothing real. Nothing irreplaceable. That said, the cost can’t be calculated in numbers.
Some names and places have been changed to not identify the author or his friends. Seb and the author are still friends. The author accepts all responsibility for his decisions.
The article first appeared in Living Positive Victoria’s Poslink magazine The Adults Only issue.