from the editor's desk

Chemical Poetics: review of Josh Kemp’s ‘Banjawarn’ and Scott-Patrick Mitchell’s ‘Clean’

Kemp, Josh. Banjawarn. University of Western Australia Publishing, 2022.  RRP $32.99, 418pp, ISBN 9781760802141. 

Mitchell, Scott-Patrick. Clean, Upswell, 2022.  RRP $24.99, 108pp, IBSN 9780645247930.

Alan Fyfe

In the nineties, so the story goes, the sub-genre of Grunge-Lit elevated the lives of drug addicts on the social and economic margins to important entries into our national literature. Luke Davies’ Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction (1997) and Andrew McGahan’s Praise (1991) are prominent examples, following heroin addicted protagonists through alienated lives in Sydney and Brisbane. However, confessional, fictional, and poetic drug writing interwoven with social critique has a longer history in Australian letters. Michael Dransfield’s Drug Poems (1972) first epitomised this exploration in contemporary Australian poetry, and Helen Garner’s novel Monkey Grip (1977) is often cited as a foundational text in Australian social realism, concentrating on a single mother’s love affair with an unreliable heroin user and embedded in the share house scene of seventies Melbourne.

The decline of heroin use in the 2000s1 brought new drugs into focus in the national and international conversation. Crystal methamphetamine became a prominent drug of abuse and West Australian use of meth was consistently recorded in The National Drug Strategy Household Survey2 as running at almost twice the national average. Though these issues are well known, and the subject of much discussion in the media and politics, the field report from Western Australian literary authors of this crystal-generation has been notably absent from the lists of local publishers. It is interesting, then, that early 2022 has seen the publication of two books centred on chemical addiction from two Western Australian publishing houses, Josh Kemp’s novel, Banjawarn, from UWAP, and Scott-Patrick Mitchell’s poetry collection, Clean, from Terri-ann White’s new imprint, Upswell.

Banjawarn was a co-winner of The Dorothy Hewett Award for an unpublished manuscript, and is signposted as firmly in the Australian Gothic genre by both publisher and author. The narrative follows Garreth Hoyle, a Phencyclidine (PCP) addict and true-crime writer, on a road trip through Western Australia’s arid-scrublands around Kalgoorlie and Leonora. Hoyle rescues Luna, a girl of around ten years old, from a drug house and sets out to find her remaining family, quickly developing a familial bond with her along the way. Kemp’s vision of a tension-filled ride over an arid landscape has drawn comparisons to Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy (1992, 1994, 1998), though my reading immediately recalled Robert Schofield’s lesser-known Goldfields crime/journey novel, Heist (2013), featuring drugs and high violence, drama hinging on a father/daughter type of relationship, and a flawed central protagonist called Gareth. 

Kemp makes some interesting choices with prose and narrative structure of a type often beloved by prize judges (and often not-so-beloved by trade publishers of debut novels). Banjawarn is mostly written in a clipped present tense, transitioning between past tense flashbacks that allow for Wintonesque runs of landscape and character poetics. The style is often well realised, giving something of a gloss of a Western Australian vernacular, told with the immediacy of a pub yarn and an appealing intimacy of description:

Hoyle drives past the servos and spry joggers jogging and mining trucks applying their hissy brakes.  Almost misses the sign for the Eastern Sun Caravan Park, flicks his blinker on at the last minute, screams into the driveway.  A fraudulent paradise with too many palm trees above the derelict caravans, dented Commodores with jingoistic stickers coming unstuck from the backs of windscreens. (24)

Structurally, Banjawarn alternates between the two main voices of Luna and Hoyle, using a limited third-person point of view for each of the characters’ sections. The two voices are well conceived as separate personalities, with Hoyle and Luna’s sense of inflection and ways of seeing effectively portraying lives from behind different sets of eyes. Some of Kemp’s best tension building comes from his use of proximity and distance between Luna and Hoyle in the confusing, harsh and frequently mystical landscape, as the characters find and lose sight of each other repeatedly. One of the best supernatural scenes in the novel involves an intensification of this here/gone game in the deserted town of Gwalia, where historical racism quite literally haunts the abandoned structures and where Hoyle and Luna lose each other once again. In the characters’ aural interplay, Kemp shows a deft hand for comic banter. A run of dialogue after an old friend beats Hoyle with a rock takes a turn into subdued absurdity that recalls a Taika Waititi script, as Hoyle responds to ‘Eat shit and die’ with ‘Take care, mate’ (112).

The merits of Banjawarn, however, are outweighed by some significant flaws. Some poetic turns that are overworked or overly grammatical jar against the vernacular affect. The book reiterates its gothic strangeness by literally repeating the word ‘strange’ every few pages, rather than relying solely on scene and narrative for its sense of the uncanny. Despite Luna growing up in a world of deprivation and addiction, her first impression of Hoyle is that he seems, for no explicit reason, ‘the strangest man she’s ever seen’ (52). Hoyle’s inner monologue on social justice is at times a little patchy too, again picking statement over demonstration in a few instances. But these are minor issues compared to Kemp’s take on addicts and addiction.

For a start, PCP simply does not exist as a drug of addiction in Australia. PCP, or ‘Angel Dust’, makes no appearance in national drug use surveys other than under ‘international trends’ or in specialist medical literature around the treatment of addiction in this country, and is specifically described as absent from the Australian narcotic scene in law enforcement literature. K. S. Astill reported in the Australian Police Journal (1979) during the height of PCP’s popularity worldwide that ‘the problem of PCP use has not yet materialised in Australia’ (211)3, and little has changed since. Even in America, PCP use has become rare since going into decline in the eighties. 

Banjawarn thus grafts an American issue onto the Australian drug scene, and a dated one at that. This review makes no assumption regarding Kemp or Mitchell’s lived experience with narcotics. The aim (apart from literary analysis) is to provide a realistic critique of the portrayal of narcotic use in Banjawarn and Clean and the implications of those portrayals. The portrayal of a PCP addicted protagonist, for this reason, seems a missed opportunity. A similar substance, ketamine, is a drug genuinely used in problematic quantities all over the country.4 Even if the substance is purely used as a fictional conceit, Kemp never entirely allows for PCP’s real-world effects, it is repeatedly characterised solely as a hallucinogen. Though PCP can cause hallucination in certain doses, its primary function, like ketamine, is as a dissociative and anaesthetic. None of these primary effects are covered in Kemp’s intricate descriptions of Hoyle’s drug experiences, instead Hoyle uses his favoured substance to feel he is connecting to Country, when the main effect of a dissociative is mental disconnection from a user’s surroundings. Away from the drug, Hoyle exhibits few of the severe symptoms of PCP baseline withdrawal, until even a casual reader’s credulity might be snapped at ‘Hangovers are so much more brutal than coming down off PCP’ (316)5.

Kemp’s writing is at its clumsiest around the very real Australian social issue of meth addiction. Ben Brooker writes on media depictions of meth use that ‘recapitulate harmful anti-drug rhetoric of the past by characterising drug users as people who are a problem rather than people with one’ such as the infamous ‘faces of meth’ campaign, a now viral meme of before and after meth use photos which resulted mainly in ‘stigmatisation of people with substance use disorders’ and to ‘deter them from seeking the help they need’ (Brooker np). The ‘faces of meth’ trope is repeated ad nauseum in Banjawarn’s character descriptions. Hoyle’s old friend, Kerryn, is a ‘twig-thing that merely resembles Kerryn’ (27). Dehumanising descriptors like ‘living dead’ and ‘zombie’ are constantly applied to addicts. Their personal hygiene is universally poor and, apart from Hoyle’s version of addiction, their intentions are universally bad. Even the saintliest of addicts, Jordy, is prone to erratic violence, slicing open a dog that has swallowed part of a toy with little concern or emotional register, though it is never quite clear which drug Jordy is on when the character exhibits movie scene clichés of a heroin user mixed with the confusing implications of meth use. The addicts who smoke meth stink too, Kerryn’s dwelling infused with ‘that chemical, toxic waste like reek. Like cat piss soaked into the walls.’ (25) This assertion is repeated when Hoyle and Kerryn visit a drug house where meth is smoked when, in reality, smoked meth produces little or no odour.6 The drug house will be where Hoyle and Luna’s stories finally join, and to enhance the sense of danger to Luna the world of addicts is implied to be one of numerous opportunistic paedophiles, from the dealers themselves to casual acquaintances of Luna’s carer.

Hoyle’s history of trauma and addiction never quite gels in the story. He reads as a kind of tourist dilettante in the narcotic world he has supposedly spent four years enmeshed within. He doesn’t know the price of his own substance, for example, when he arrives at the drug house, or much about drug houses to begin with, because ‘He gets other people to score for him so he doesn’t have to stand in places like this’ (47). There seems quite a lot of Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces (1968) in this characterisation and plotline. Campbell’s schema is apparent in the standard double pinch points of Kemp’s plot, the first being Hoyle’s ‘Belly of the Whale’ (Campbell 83) moment with an apparent impasse on uncovering Luna’s true family history, and the second playing out in classic ‘Woman as Temptress’ (Campbell 111) style when Hoyle finally arrives at Banjawarn Station, and an ending which employs the redemptive/transformative arc of the hero’s journey, complete with a graphic apotheosis, or facing of death. These mythical themes are telegraphed halfway through Banjawarn with a reading of the St George myth, and Hoyle’s straightforward choice between knight or dragon. Hoyle is a man apart, whose mystic moral compass is unerring and intrinsic to the heroic protagonist, he can’t genuinely betray the people he seems to have betrayed because he is simply right about their bad natures. In the same way Hoyle’s nobility is innate, the evil of these other characters is intrinsic, even extending to their children. His addiction to the rare and exotic PCP again sets him up as something different to the animated-dead addicts around him. He is subject to fits of supernatural strength7, like Cuchulain’s battle rage and, again like Cuchulain or Hercules, slays a mighty beast when very young.

An application of the hero’s journey may go some way to explaining the unnuanced version of good and evil in Banjawarn, but this forces other characters into uncomfortable roles. Clay, the main First Nations character, seems to exist solely to aid and exculpate the white hero at the appropriate time and comes across as a stock sidekick or Magical Aboriginal. Hoyle rants a moral lesson to Clay about the wrongness of violent resistance to colonialism shortly before Hoyle himself commits a massive act of violent resistance to his own abuse. Hoyle’s own violence, and his betrayal of Clay by the theft of First Nations intellectual property for his own enrichment, have a veil cast over them. He can’t remember the theft of intellectual property and his final acts of extreme violence are also just things he can’t remember, happening offscreen as a deus ex machina that resolves the plot. A reader might again recall Cuchulain’s battle rage where he recognises neither friend nor foe, or Hercules’ god-induced madness that provides narrative cover for the slaughter of his children—a story device for the moral preservation of the hero. 

There is nothing in particular wrong with a hero’s journey as a story frame, nor with the genre of supernatural thriller, but it is confounding and disappointing that a novel which centres addiction, and reaches for a social commentary, chooses the addicts themselves as its element of gothic-monstrous. Banjawarn is a true genre piece in this sense, one which may well provide a thrilling ride for fans of the form. But Kemp breaks few genre rules and insights into the problems of addiction are mostly absent from the text. By recreating the tropes of moral panic media, and by adding a few new ones (such as the meth stink), Banjawarn’s contribution to the national conversation on drugs may well be harmful; and for those close to the issues of addiction, the novel may prove a demoralising and insulting experience.

Scott-Patrick Mitchell’s debut full-length poetry collection, Clean, is no stranger to prize lists either. An earlier version of Clean was shortlisted for the Puncher & Wattman First Poetry Book Prize, and individual works from the collection have won or been listed for a diverse range of awards, from the Melbourne Poetry Union Martin Downey Urban Realist Prize to the Peter Cowan 600 Micro-Fiction Award. The valuation of a work in Clean as micro-fiction is interesting, and I will discuss some of the collection’s relations to prose forms below. But, on first impression, it is clear that Mitchell (also known by their performance moniker, SPM) wants to do more than play with the formal aspects of poetry—Clean is a book that wants to upset some tropes around methamphetamine use, as in the poem ‘Reworking slurs I was called when I was using’ (72). The piece is composed of a set of single line volta, which subvert angry and pejorative voices directed against users:

DIE (trying to say every thought at once)
THIEVING (a god particle)
(i am in love with the high places) OF THE EARTH
ALL YOU JUNKIES DESERVE (compassion & a warm bed)

The collection is divided into three parts, ‘Dirty’, ‘The Sleep Deprivation Diaries’, and ‘Clean’, following a narrator through a life of heavy meth use in the first and second part, then into recovery and abstinence in the third. There is a sense of a novelistic linear narrative in the arrangement of the pieces, as loves are found and lost along the journey, adventures and sorrows are entered into and (sometimes) resolved through a technique of mirroring the works between each section. The localised homophobic violence rendered on the narrator in ‘whipping boy’ (28) in the first section, for example, finds its reflection in wider society in the third section’s ‘forty-nine mobile phones’ (75), as the poet turns their attention to the homophobic shooting attack on Pulse Nightclub in Orlando on 12 June 2016.  

Clean doesn’t dwell greatly on violence, but these two poems do contain much that echoes in the book as a whole. Where ‘whipping boy’ details an attack on the narrator that sees their attackers cast them in a role as ‘made just for whipping‘ (28), it also implies a mindset of personal resistance to that role. The piece rejects violence as sensational or glamorous, ‘this is not a love song for the baseball bats / the way they laugh with every swing, every whack’, and centres the private courage of self-estimation, ‘this is a love song for the voice in my head / who says now is not the time to play dead.’ We see that act of courage extended beyond the self in ‘forty-nine mobile phones’ which is animated by the courage of LGBTQIA+ love in a community of mutual concern and care, asking ‘what is the sound / of a kiss / between their death’ (75) and answering with the resonant imagery of concerned friends’ and beloveds’ calls lighting up the mobile phones of the forty-nine slain in Pulse Nightclub.

While Clean aims at a realistic account of meth use and trauma, it is rarely as explicitly reported as in ‘whipping boy’. The opening poem, ‘The Mourning Star’ (12), seems to imply familial abuse without ever directly using such a term, and the imagery of ‘At midnight / gather all your teeth / and bury them. / At a crossroads. / In a cauldron. / In a coffin’ seems to imply a magic ritual, yet the theme of lost teeth also recalls real dental issues typical of prolonged meth use..8 A reader shouldn’t imagine, however, having discovered a link between tooth loss and meth use that they have discovered a final meaning for this passage in ‘The Mourning Star’, the magic is likely intentional too. Magic, mythology and a lyrical sense of the religious are threaded through Clean as much as the realities of meth use and recovery. Indeed, magic may be inseparable from the account of meth use. In research into meth addiction, interviews with addicts are a frequent tool of statistical and psychological data gathering and, when users are asked about common experiences on meth that may seem delusional to those outside of the world of addiction, the responses often resemble this account from a 2012 interview:

I mean I, I’ve truly gotten over, the only time I get paranoid schizophrenia is when I’m on meth, you know, I, it definitely, I truly believe that it excels our system, our biological system, and you are able to hear things that you don’t normally pay attention to, you see things shadows that, shadow chasers and shadow people that, you see that all the time, you just don’t make aware of it, and with the meth you see everything, you know? (McKenna 182)  

This interface between magic and perception is epitomised in the titular work of the second section, ‘The Sleep Deprivation Diaries’, a poetry sequence of seven parts spanning ten pages. ‘The Sleep Deprivation Diaries’ rests on a premise of two typical addict behaviours. The most explicit is the addict’s intimate awareness of the economies of their substance, strategies of where and how to source the drug, the abundance or shortage of supply and the common tendency for users to consider dealing to pay the crystal bill (McKetin, McLaren and Kelly 91). The other behaviour that informs ‘The Sleep Deprivation Diaries’ is that of punding—identified in psychiatry as an intense fascination with activities which involve repetition and complexity, but which lack goal orientation.9 One form of punding shown in the work is the collection of objects, sometimes described as a type of hoarding, and another type of punding is the restless search through the hoard of objects the narrator of the piece undertakes.10 In this, magical perception and the neuro-psychological are meshed, the individual objects in the examined hoard are not exactly real, but take the form of direct references to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), with such finds as ‘a yearbook from Denton High’ (48) (where Brad and Janet are supposed to have met in the film) and ‘a brochure for the Oakley Court Hotel’ (48) (the building used for the outside shot of Frank N. Furter’s castle in the film).

The text makes further use of Rocky Horror with snatches of song lines providing a kind of prompted backing music. This is consistent with SPM’s technique throughout Clean. The poems are deeply coded with reference, both common and obscure, yet a detailed knowledge of what is alluded to is not required of a reader. There is a seamlessness of wordplay that concentrates on an immersion in experience, so that the intertextual coding never takes the tone of an academic exercise. The frequent Orphic/underworld references, for example, can be recognised in ‘down a river of sticks’ (46) with its poetic sympathy of sound (sticks/Styx), but no recognition of the reference is necessary for the imagery to be effective. The porous walls of gender, too, are subject to this wordplay in ‘The Sleep Deprivation Diaries’. Two characters named ‘XX’ and ‘XY’, after assigned binary gender chromosomes, accompany the narrator, who plays love and business games with both for meth and companionship (44–54). The suggestion of a voiced inner conscience worries at these relationships, repeating ‘I am the fake’ while more frank intimations of the narrator’s attractions appear in lines like ‘XY reaches out— / but not in the way I want’ (45).

Clean is a book in which the poet is careful with the reader, rarely aiming to intimidate or shock. The poetics of Clean are careful too. The layering of ‘The Sleep Deprivation Diaries’ is indicative of this care, but the sense of each work being painstakingly composed as an engine of meaning is present throughout the entire book. ‘Red Flowering Gum’ (87), in the final section, is a masterclass in prose-poetry, easily melding its prose referent of a bildungsroman narrative on the concept of home with its rhythmic, scatter-glass imagery more typical of lineated poetry. For ‘Red Flowering Gum’, SPM uses the vehicle of a second-person point of view, as do several of the other pieces in Clean, implicating the reader in the journey. But the lyrical second-person ‘you’, as with gender in Clean, is amorphous, sometimes standing for the reader / narrator, as in Italiano Calvino’s experiments with the style, and sometimes for another character in a poem, such as the eulogised lover in ‘Snowy (an obituary)’ (68).

Intertext coding and formal arrangement are not the only instances of play in Clean, play is also part of the emotional landscape of the addict. The simple truth that users enjoy many of their drug experiences11 is reflected in the Queer love poetry of the first section. Pieces such as ‘Night Orchids’ (22) are vibrant with a sense of adventure and discovery. The reasons the narrator might have for taking meth are well accounted, as are the reasons for stopping. When we do arrive at the final section, ‘Clean’, we are not exactly in for the redemption arc this title may imply. First there is the comedown. Though novel and experimental metaphor are never far from SPM’s poetry, the first poem of the final section is notable for its clarity. Another prose-poem, this work’s prose referent is an almost journalistic condition report on day after day of withdrawal with its attendant physical and mental toll.12 After the comedown, there is the work.

But, again, the ‘Clean’ section does not require hard work of the reader. The internal explorations of the first two sections give way to solace found in more external sources—family and community relationships are formed and reformed, alongside a new type of delighted observation of the natural world and blossoming realisations of healthy ways of being prompted by these external connections. The character of health professional in ‘Drawn From Life: A Brief Meditation on Time Travel’ (93) declares ‘Conversation is a type of conservation’. And the mirroring of past events is reiterated as the narrator finds sober uses for magic and ritual in ‘binding spell’ (102).  In ‘binding spell’, we encounter the premise that ‘getting clean is a form of grief’ (103), a theory well known in recovery medicine.13 Grief haunts the narrator of these later poems, and many of the pieces take an elegiac turn. But the questing soul is not lost in an addicted past, rather, it bubbles toward new possibility. In ‘Ballad’ the narrator describes the dynamism of this state—’addict, retract: in place, awe for the new day’ (98).

It is in this dynamic state that Clean leaves us. Though the poet wrestles with the idea of closure in three pieces subtitled ‘Imagined Endings’, the major volta of the implied narrative arc in Clean is that closure can never entirely be achieved. In a final act of mirroring, the last poem, ‘The Morning Star’ (104), creates a wordplay with the first poem that leaves its second-person subject in a moment ‘between epiphany and epilogue’. Recovery is revealed to be process-based—an act of building that, Babel-like, never reaches its apex.  Consolation is not absent from this denouement, instead it can be found in the beauty of potential that resonates in a sober not-yet:

here, the irrefutable truth of stone:
hear a sediment of what is meant

a kernel the shape of a rock
in your head, your voice, in you

speaking unspoken sediments
through one definitive audio statement

how a mountain can be built from this
how a pebble is the corner of a landscape (101)

Clean demonstrates eloquent voices on addiction are not absent from the Western Australian writing scene. It is up to publishers to find and nurture these voices. But the inclusion of voices of experience or, alternately, thorough and sensitive research into addiction and drug use has been noticeably minimal on local publishers’ lists in recent years, particularly in the case of contemporary meth use. Often the banal and misleading prejudices of moral panic have been the preferred characterisation of this socially important issue. Clean is a major achievement, then. Beyond the didactic and revelatory, Clean is a work of literature which is wrought with such tenderness, it is a rare pleasure to read. John Kinsella, in the endorsements provided on the first page of Clean, writes that ‘the book comes after and beyond Michael Dransfield’s Drug Poems. With the ambition and scope Clean exhibits, it may be as well to ask where a work like ‘The Sleep Deprivation Diaries’ sits in an international context—a Wasteland or Howl for the crystal-generation, and a potent first strike in Western Australia’s nascent poetics of methamphetamine.

1. In the Statistics on Drug Use paper, 0.8% of Australians fourteen and over reported recent use of heroin. By 2019, the National Drug Strategy Household survey (henceforth referred to as NDSHS) reported this national average had fallen to less than 0.1%. Miller, Megge and Draper, Glenn. Statistics on Drug Use, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2001) and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Drug Strategy Household Survey (2019).

2. In 2013, the Western Australian average for meth use was 3.8% of the state population, against a national average of 2.1% according to the NDSHS.

3. A number of sources have been examined for these assertions, but the NDSHS remains the primary statistical tool for drug trends in Australia, as well as previous statistical papers from The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Consultation was also sought from UWA medical addiction and recovery academic, Professor Gary Hulse, the foundation chair in addiction medicine, 2006.

4. The NHSDS reports use of ketamine went from 0.4% of respondents who had used in the previous twelve months in 2016 to 0.9% in 2019.

5. A good account of PCP pharmacology and effects can be found in Bates, M.L.S. and Trujilo, K.A.. “Use and abuse of dissociative and psychedelic drugs in adolescence.” Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behaviour. Vol 203 Place: Elsevier, 2021: np and information on PCP comedown and its declining use in the US can be found in Bey, Tareg and Patel, Anar. ‘Phencyclidine intoxication and adverse effects: a clinical and pharmacological review of an illicit drug’, California Journal of Emergency Medicine, 8.1 (2007): 9–14.

6. ‘Methamphetamine takes the form of an odourless, bitter-tasting white crystalline powder’ from Champagne, Andre, Bang, Felix, et al. ‘Injuries and poisonings associated with methamphetamine use: sentinel surveillance, the electronic Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program’, Chronic Disease Prevention Canada,40.4 (2020): 126–129.

7. Superhuman strength is another illusionary trope associated with PCP (cf. Bey & Patel, ibid.). 

8. Tooth decay and loss among amphetamine addicts is a much-studied phenomenon in dental science. See Smit, D.A. and Naidoo, S.. ‘Oral health effects, brushing habits and management of methamphetamine users for the general dental practitioner’, British Dental Journal, 218.9 (2015): np.

9. ‘Punding is thought to be related to dopamine use and has been observed in (meth)amphetamine and cocaine users, as well as in some patients with Parkinson disease, gambling addictions, and hypersexuality’, Bostwick, J. Michael and Ashlskog, Eric. ‘Drug Induced Compulsive Behaviours: exceptions to the rule’, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 84.9 (September 2009): 1119–1127.

10. A good overview of punding behaviours can be found in Fasano, A. and Petrovic, I. ‘Insights into pathophysiology of punding reveal possible treatment strategies’, Mol Psychiatry 15 (2010): 560–573.

11. ‘Common functions for amphetamine use were to ‘KEEP GOING’ (95.6%), to ‘STAY AWAKE’ (91.3%) or to ‘ENHANCE ACTIVITY’ (66.2%). Using to help feel ‘ELATED/EUPHORIC’ (60.6%) and to ‘ENJOY COMPANY’ (58.1%) were also frequently mentioned.’ Boys, Anabel, Marsden, John and Strang, John. ‘Understanding reasons for drug use amongst young people: a functional perspective’, Health Education Research, 16.4, (August 2001): 457–469.

12. ‘This high level of psychiatric comorbidity seen in very early abstinence is likely to be a common experience among MA [methamphetamine] abusers, given the prevalence of a binge-type pattern of MA abuse.’ Zorick, Todd, Nestor, Liam, et al. ‘Withdrawal symptoms in abstinent methamphetamine-dependent subjects’, Addiction, 105.10 (2010): 1809–1818.

13. ‘Interpersonal attachment and drug addiction share many attributes across their behavioral and neurobiological domains including how they grow and decay within an individual’s motivational repertoire.’ from Chambers, R. Andrew, and Sue C. Wallingford. ‘On Mourning and Recovery: integrating stages of grief and change toward a neuroscience-based model of attachment adaptation in addiction treatment’, Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 45.4 (2017): 451–473.

Works Cited

Astil, K. S. ‘Phencyclidine (PCP)’ – ‘Angel Dust’ Alias ‘The Embalmer’, Australian Police Journal, 33.4 (1979): 211-224

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2019.

Brooker, Ben.  ‘Monsters Under the Bed: drugs, stigma and the AFP’, Overland, 21 November (2021): np. https://overland.org.au/2021/11/monsters-under-the-bed-drugs-stigma-and-the-afp/

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Princeton University Press, 1968.

McKenna, Stacey A. ‘”We’re Supposed to Be Asleep?” Vigilance, Paranoia, and the Alert Methamphetamine User’, Anthropology of Consciousness, 24.2 (2013): 172-190

McKetin, Rebecca, Jennifer McClaren, and Erin Kelly. The Sydney methamphetamine market: Patterns of supply, use, personal harms, and social consequences, Australasian Centre for Policing Research, 2005. 

Recommended Reading

Brooker, Ben. ‘Bongs, booze, and blackmail: on the hauntology of drugs’, Overland, 1 March (2022) np. https://overland.org.au/2022/03/bongs-booze-blackmail/

The first poem Alan Fyfe remembers reading was ‘Kublai Khan’, in a Heinemann Education Anthology with a green cover, but not before discovering Coleridge wrote the whole thing bombed on opium, in a Reader’s Digest book of interesting facts with a red cover. Alan is a writer and occasional troublemaker from Perth.

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