LUKE Williams is a freelance journalist and former drug addict who was researching addiction to crystal meth, when the worst possible thing happened — he became addicted to it himself.

This is an edited extract from his book The Ice Age, published with permission, about his descent into psychosis.

A FEW years back, I met a 60-year-old guy named Bernard; he was smoking crystal meth in a public area in a gay sauna. I was between addictions, and so I didn’t join in — I just listened.

Bernard was a very skinny, extremely well spoken, former private-school teacher. He was, first and foremost, polite and dignified. He talked in a kind of pure poetry, with just the right amount of detail, poise, and rhythm. He was old-fashioned, genteel; it was almost as if I had met the ghost of Patrick White.

As he smoked more meth, though, he began to resemble Mr Burns from The Simpsons, especially the episode in which Mr Burns is found in the woods and mistaken for an alien.

His voice became higher-pitched as he told me: “I had a good job, I was on a very good salary, I had a nice house, and I was very well-respected in the community. Then I met Crystal, and she wrapped her sweet, toxic tentacles around my heart and never let go.”

As the night wore on, he explained to me that when he smoked crystal meth, he could sit for hours on end with his eyes shut, imagining himself climbing mountains and surviving snow avalanches, or going on heroic journeys through deep tropical jungles.

“Once, I sat there for three straight days and explored these caves until I found the ruins of an ancient underground kingdom with huge castles and pyramids. When Crystal ran out of her love, I went and got more so I could continue with the adventure.”

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