We know the use of the drug ice, is an issue. Often the link between mental health and ice use is often overlooked due to stigma. I spoke with a recovering ice addict about his abuse of the drug, fuelled by his struggle with mental illness.
I spoke with Dr Cornellisse, my own GP, about this topic and he explained that it is very common for people struggling with anxiety and depression to reach for the drug to manage their moods. “The drug acts as an anti-depressant. It releases a rush of dopamine giving the user a feeling of well being. The issue is the drug depletes dopamine storage leading to the ‘crash’ once the drug wears off. This also stops any medication a user may be on such as anti-depressants unable to do their job”. My source wishes for his identity to remain anonymous, so will be referred to as Pete throughout the article.
Pete had dabbled in recreational drugs throughout his adult life, including ice. Ice use wasn’t frequent and used on occasion along with other party drugs.
It wasn’t until a traumatic event and a relationship breakdown that Pete’s mental state began to deteriorate. His state of depression and anxiety became debilitating. He was unable to leave home due to his anxiety, often staying in bed for days without showering. His will to live began to decrease along with his inner strength. Pete became suicidal.
He describes waking up each morning and crying at the fact he had to live through another day. Isolating himself from everyone and everything; a suicidal perfect storm began to form.
Pete met a person in his building that was an ice dealer. Upon meeting this neighbour, he was given a few tokes of the glass pipe and that’s all it took.
Immediately, his feelings of anxiety, worry, pain and social fear disappeared.
Pete began using ice daily. He had easy access to it and he had taken leave off work for many weeks. Pete wasn’t partying, he was living again. He was carrying on about his day. Running errands, doing normal day-to-day things. This is what ice allowed him to do. “I wasn’t using it recreationally” Pete says “I was self medicating so I could have some form of a life”.
Pete recognised what he was doing was harmful and would try and go a few days without using the drug. What would follow would be a huge crash that would last for days. After being awake for days, his body would be in a fatigued state, and his depression and anxiety would be back, if not amplified. It would be as if Pete had disappeared for a few days as he would ignore all messages and phone calls from his friends. Inevitably this all led back to the glass pipe. Like magic, Pete was back in action and able to function as how he believed a normal person would.
Pete eventually sought professional help for his mental health and stopped smoking ice. “I’m eating properly, sleeping properly, seeing a psychiatrist and am on medication that help manage my mental health,” says Peter. “I feel like a new person however I can understand the urge for anyone with depression to reach for Ice. It’s a survival mechanism”.
Image source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au