Preferred Name: Ethan
Ethan is single, lives in a share house and works casually in hospitality. He describes his ethnic background as ‘European’: he was born in Australia and his parents were born in Europe.
Ethan began taking various drugs with friends in his late teens. Over the next few years he began taking speed regularly and later ice. Looking back on his early thirties he now describes himself as having a ‘full-fledged addiction’ to ice. After experiencing depression and psychosis, he attended counselling, a residential rehabilitation program and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and stopped consuming alcohol and other drugs. A few years later he resumed taking ice but stopped after moving interstate. Some time after the move, he started going clubbing and taking ecstasy and speed, and later resumed injecting ice. After a while he lost his job, his psychosis worsened and eventually he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Ethan no longer takes any drugs but says he may start drinking socially in the future.
When Ethan was in his mid-twenties he found ice became more readily available and he started taking it instead of speed. Around this time he began experiencing depression and psychosis and was referred to counselling. He then completed a residential rehabilitation program that involved attending Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings. After completing rehab Ethan got a full-time job and didn’t take any drugs for the next few years. However he says he was curious to try ice again and when a friend offered it to him he accepted. He then started taking it every weekend and over time his consumption increased. He says that ice increased his efficiency at work but after a while he found himself feeling ‘scattered’, began taking days off work and eventually lost his job.
Over the next few years Ethan continued to take ice and worked in a number of different jobs. He describes this time as being ‘in full-fledged addiction’ to ice. He began experiencing ‘intense depression’ and psychosis, and became suicidal. Concerned about his mental health, he decided to move interstate where he found a new job and moved into a share house. He started going clubbing and taking ecstasy and speed, and later resumed injecting ice. After a while he lost his job, his psychosis worsened and he ‘felt scared all of the time’. He was then admitted to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis. This experience prompted him to attend another residential rehabilitation program, which he found ‘rewarding’ as he says he learnt to deal with his emotions and feel more comfortable with his sexuality. He also resumed attending counselling sessions and NA meetings.
At the time of the interview Ethan had stopped going to NA but was seeing a counsellor weekly. He doesn’t take any drugs at present but is considering resuming social drinking. He’s working again, discovering new hobbies, and plans to travel overseas in the future.
Ethan (M, 39, works in hospitality, ice) started to ‘party’ more often in his second year of university and eventually lost interest in his studies. (Played by an actor)
I got through my first year of uni, but then [in] my second year, I was starting to party a lot more and I was more interested in that. I just remember instead of going to a […] lecture, I’d get stoned […] That was kind of how it worked. So yeah, I kept dropping subjects and then re-enrolling and then not going to exams, so that’s kind of when my life became a bit unmanageable […] I was just starting to party a lot […and] I wasn’t really interested in uni any more, I was disillusioned. I was doing a […] degree, and I didn’t know where it was heading […] and my social acceptance was based on using drugs at that time, so I was quite focused on going to parties, going to clubs, using drugs.
Ethan describes his ‘addiction’ to ice as a ‘survival mechanism’ for coping with social isolation. (Played by an actor)
The drug was my best friend and it stopped me feeling. When I had my drug, I didn’t feel lonely. I discovered [this] later through […] rehab […And] so addiction was survival, yeah, I think it was a survival mechanism.
[…Like, taking meth] made me feel like I was a part of something […so, for me it] filled the holes. It gave me what I was missing, and I used that as much as I could. But then […] I wasn’t learning any coping mechanisms, I wasn’t learning how to function in the world, I wasn’t learning how to deal with my emotions. I was using the drug to mask or to change all of those feelings that I couldn’t deal with.
On one occasion, Ethan experienced psychosis after taking ice. (Played by an actor)
I had a really bad problem [when] I went to rehab for the first time […My meth use] was, like, in full swing at the time and, yeah, I started getting psychosis […Like] there was a time where I remember I had a shot [of ice and…] I said, ‘I’ve just had too much’, and it was like the psychosis clicked in […] I’d had enough acid to know what hallucinations were like, but for me, the psychosis [meant …] I couldn’t tell the difference between reality and non-reality any more. And even though I could say, ‘This probably isn’t real’, the feeling behind it was so overwhelming, like, the fear was so overwhelming, it was like I didn’t have a choice but to believe it.
Ethan says that undertaking residential treatment helped him to become aware of his feelings. (Played by an actor)
I remember discovering [at rehab] that I had anxiety […Like] the feeling that I had which I thought meant I needed more drugs was actually the feeling of anxiety […] So I was completely out of touch with my body and reality, and yeah, I was very much all in my head.
Rehab kind of opened me up to […] this idea that I might have sensations in my body and that’s what people refer to as a feeling [… So, I mean] I learnt a lot through rehab.
Ethan found it hard to ask for his family’s support to stop taking ice because he felt rejected by them. He says this was linked to feelings about his sexuality. (Played by an actor)
I think I didn’t know how to let support in […] A lot of it was because I felt I was being rejected, but I also didn’t know how to let people love me […] I was always kind of running from something […I mean] I think being gay is a big thing and yeah, actually I think that was probably one of the biggest [parts of feeling rejected…by] my family.
[Like, I wasn’t] comfortable with being who I am […and I didn’t] want people to know, so I was always kind of hiding something. And then my drug use, I was hiding something as well […] I was probably good at hiding things anyway. I don’t know, when you’re hiding stuff, it’s hard to let people in. It’s very controlled. My life was very controlled about who knew what.
Ethan says having the support of his sister helped him to stop taking ice. (Played by an actor)
For me, what really helped me this time to stop using [ice] was one of my sisters who said to me that whatever choices I make, she was still there for me. [She said I should] call her and just keep in contact, so just knowing that somebody was [there for me], like she wasn’t there to support me financially, she wasn’t there to enable me or anything like that, but in the end, she was the only person I could call. So it was just having somebody […] there, [knowing] that no matter what was happening, they were still going to be there.