Writer tries something unique to stop crystal meth addiction

Writer tries something unique to stop crystal meth addiction

‘I don’t feel good about it – it feels selfish and gross – but I don’t want to lose myself to this drug.’

Melbourne writer Brandon Cook.

1 February 2017

by Shannon Power


Warning: this story discusses drug use

Like many gay men the first time Brandon Cook used crystal meth was during a hook-up.

‘I was coming home from a night out, when my Grindr went off. On my phone was the most beautiful man – exactly my type – asking me to come over,’ Cook said.

‘I was drunk, disinhibited, and looking at his photos, I thought, ‘I’ll never get this chance again’. When I got to his house, he pulled out a pipe and offered some to me.

‘I’d never done ice before, having heard all of the horror stories, but I thought, ‘I can’t say no to this guy. He’s too good-looking.’

What followed was a 24-hour bender with the worst comedown of Cook’s life.

‘I remember being horrified in the aftermath, resolving to never do it again,’ he said.

‘But less than a week later, a voice – I describe it as ‘a voice that doesn’t belong to me – started to whisper, ‘You could definitely do that again’.

‘That’s when I knew it would become a problem.’

Crystal meth, known as ice in Australia, is the purest form of the drug methamphetamine and is widely used in the LGBTI community.

Jump forward 18 months, Cook has hit rock bottom and is desperate to overcome his addiction.

Multiple trips to the emergency room, including two overdoses made Cook realise the drug has his life in its hands.

‘It’s given me crippling panic disorder which led to psychiatric care and a prescription for antidepressants,’ he said.

‘I never wanted this to become such a strong part of my life – I immediately went and spoke to my doctors about how I could avoid using again after my first time.

‘It’s affected my capacity for intimacy, having been used mostly in sexual settings, and there was a time where I couldn’t have fun with someone without having to flash back to times of use in order to feel pleasure.’

Cook has tried going sober, with his longest stint off crystal meth lasting four and half months, but he relapsed earlier this year. Now Cook believes rehab is the only option to keep him alive.

The cost of private rehab is about $7000 (£4207) and even though Cook is lucky enough to have private health it does not cover the full costs and as a freelance writer he cannot afford to make up the difference.

Many people can barely admit they have a problem but Cook has taken the unusual step to start a crowdfunding campaign to help get him into rehab.

‘I felt that my struggle with ice was getting too severe, and flaring up with such debilitating intensity so rapidly, that some sort of desperate crowdfunding campaign was the only way I was going to get there,’ he said.

‘It felt like a last effort at getting some real help, before it was too late and I fell down the drain. I don’t feel good about it – it feels selfish and gross – but I don’t want to lose myself to this drug.’

Cook is almost half way to achieving his target and any extra money will be donate to the Victorian Aids Council.

His experience with crystal meth and trying to overcome his addiction has inspired Cook to create new ways of helping gay men overcome their addictions.

‘Gay men in Australia hate being lectured by the authorities, and they see Australia’s hysteria combining crystal meth with homelessness, whatever, and think ‘that’s not me. I’m nothing like that. I’m not an addict’,’ he said.

‘But our crystal meth use and our addictions are more complicated than that. They’re tied up in sex and intimacy, and tied up in our historical use of drugs ‘for pleasure’.

‘When I’m done with this – with rehab – and I’m in a stronger place, I want to start having honest discussions, and give people in recovery, or just people who are curious, a chance and platform to speak out in whatever way suits them.

‘I’ve thought about doing these things for a very long time, after all the research I’ve done into my addiction over the past year and a half, but I’ve never been healthy enough to make them happen.

‘After being affected so deeply, it’s something I’m beyond passionate about.’

Donate to Cook’s campaign here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drugs contact the following groups: UKUSAAustralia.