DRUG PERSPECTIVES: Writers Matt Noffs and Luke Williams discuss drug use with panel chair Sean Doherty at the Byron Writers Festival on Saturday.
DRUG PERSPECTIVES: Writers Matt Noffs and Luke Williams discuss drug use with panel chair Sean Doherty at the Byron Writers Festival on Saturday. digby hildreth

Ice experiment: I thought my family were poisoning me

INJECTING ice made journalist Luke Williams believe he was receiving telepathic messages from strangers in Britain telling him he was a great rap artist.

Mr Williams also became convinced members of his family were poisoning him.

He revealed these crystal meth-induced delusions during a stimulating session of the Byron Writers Festival on Saturday.

Psychosis was a consequence he semi-willingly risked when he began his personal exploration of the ice scene for a book, The Ice Age.

It began as a story about "the underclass, the great characters" flitting in and out of a dealer's house in Melbourne's outer suburbs, where Mr Williams holed up to research and write.

He "rock-bottomed" after turning in the manuscript when, having got clean, he relapsed and treated his publishers to an explicit rant about every sexual fantasy he'd ever had. The shame of that pushed him across the line into abstinence.

Mr Williams said he no longer consumed drugs of any kind and said he was sceptical about the notion of the "functional, recreational" ice user.

"People are not robots," he said: "Something inside functional users will be dying."

His co-panellist and fellow author Matt Noffs offered another perspective on the use of ice in Australia.

Hysterical headlines about the "zombie apocalypse" resulting from ice carried a message of fear and hate, which wasn't useful to tackling the problem said Mr Noffs, whose grandfather founded Sydney's Wayside Chapel and who is head of Australia's largest drug and alcohol treatment service, the Noffs Foundation.

Helping young people create a flourishing life for themselves, with honest and open communication, was the way to lessen drug abuse, rather than putting fear into them, he said.

Mr Noffs, the author of Breaking the Ice, said even the police had recognised that the war on drugs had failed.

"We need to treat ice use as a health issue first, not a criminal one," he said.



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