'For years, I hit the gym at 5am every day. I also had a $5000 a month drug habit.'

The following is an excerpt from On the Way to Wonderland by Alice Crawley, a book about her journey from financially f*cked to freedom.

One of the reddest flags was when my Sydney meth dealer cut me off. Which, you have to admit, takes commitment. You know you’re having a rough week when your drug dealer tells you to “get your sh*t together.” To give you an idea of the extent of my denial, that still wasn’t red enough to get my attention. I needed redder flags than that before I got clean. They all came soon enough.

I thanked him for his concern and, like any seasoned addict, got on the phone to shop around for another dealer. At this stage in my drugging career, my speed habit was costing me about $5,000 a month. I was getting cash advances on my credit cards – I was hopelessly hooked on my need for speed. I knew it wasn’t sustainable; emotionally, physically or financially, but I could see no way out. As Keith Richards once said, “First the drug, and then the day.” Keith was speaking my language. 

Meth, along with whatever other drugs were on offer, was my drug of choice. In addition to alcohol, I favoured ecstasy, coke, MDMA and ketamine. How I loved my ketamine. I once did so much ketamine with a friend at a dance party at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion that we ended up on the bathroom floor, thinking we were on a flight to Perth. I have no idea why we were convinced we were heading to Perth, but we were.

I think we got it in our heads that we needed selfies with the Quokkas. I mean, seriously, I find it really difficult to stay upset about anything in my life now that I know Quokkas exist. If you don’t know about Quokkas, please, do me and yourself a favour and jump online and check them out because they are notoriously the happiest creatures on planet earth. 


But, back to our trip to Perth via the bathroom floor at the Mardi Gras Party. When we finally ‘landed’ we couldn’t work out how to get out of the plane or how to work our mobile phones, which, clearly, had been compromised due to the air travel. It wasn’t until a very concerned Martin arrived, peaking over the top of the bathroom stall, after us being missing for a couple of hours, that we realised we might not be on a plane after all. It was episodes like this and countless others, that led to Marty raising concerns about my drug escapades and the amount I was using. 

He started to intervene when I sneakily started taking extra ‘stashes’ to parties. I hid it for as long as I could but when it got to the point in the evening when I lost my ability to speak English, he recognised this had become a problem for me. You think? 

It came as no surprise when a drug and alcohol specialist later told me there are people in their twenties and thirties stuck in care homes with dementia from ketamine abuse. It’s heavy stuff. It is, after all, used to tranquillise horses. 

For any normal person, that ought to be enough to deter you or at lease encourage some temperance of use. Not for me. Ketamine was an instant dissociation fix. Brain damage and death be damned. I was on a mission to separate my head from my body. I loved the stuff. I used it to come down from stimulants regularly, along with a blend of alcohol and benzos. Within a few months of my regular methamphetamine abuse, I was making my way through three to four bottles of Valium, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety pills a week.


A combination of anywhere from 50 to 200 tablets a week. I distinctly remember seeing the shocking news report of what Heath Ledger had in his system when he was found dead. It hit me hard, not only because of the loss of a very talented Aussie actor who I adored, but also because the cocktail they listed was what I had coursing through my veins on a daily basis. I snacked on anti-anxiety pills like they were M&M's.

It didn’t matter if I was at a party, hanging out with a few friends, or on my own; I got to the point where I didn’t feel I could function if I didn’t have a couple of lines of speed in my system before midday. I would then start snacking on tranquillisers, sometimes just to enhance a booze-filled lunch. 

I gravitated to the addicts wherever I worked. They’re everywhere. I see them. Financial and banking services, shipping and transport, and the trading circle were hard core. Even after a boozy ‘arvo’, as the Aussies say, if I hadn’t passed out or thrown up in the taxi home, I would generally walk in the door and crack open another bottle of wine to mellow out for the evening, simply to continue the momentum of the buzz.

I remember the point when I started to get anxious if there wasn’t a second or third bottle of wine on standby in the fridge. I had to have at least three bottles in the house to feel like I had a ‘safe’ amount available to smooth the edges at the end of the day. This, on top of all the powder and pills in my system, was a respectable amount by anyone’s standards. Well, maybe not Keith’s, but let’s not set the bar too high. Ba dum tsh. 


I was consistently high-functioning throughout my years of substance abuse. Every morning with militant dedication, I would get up at 5am, have my coffee, hit the gym and sweat out the hangover or come down. I remember going to a rooftop party in Hong Kong on my way over to Australia, to hang out with a fellow partygoer, and we dressed up as ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and had a hell of a night. Around midnight I was so wasted I couldn’t even hold on to the bottles of champagne people kept handing me – they just slipped through my hand. Smash. They handed me another one. Smash. 

I lost all motor control, and the host had lost all sense of reason while attempting to top up my champagne. The next morning, I got up and went straight to my friend’s gym; as a gym junkie, this was a non-negotiable that I would line up in advance. I started with 30 minutes on the Stairmaster, had to grab the nearest garbage bin which I violently hurled into, to the horror of the other exercisers, and then got straight back to my workout to sweat it out. I wasn’t about to let a little alcohol poisoning ruin my militant exercise routine. No way. 

It wasn’t until I went to rehab years later that they explained how lucky I was that I didn’t fall off one of the workout machines with a heart attack. Apparently, vigorous exercise when you have large doses of prescription pills and alcohol in your system can be fatal. Who knew? I would dance with denial for many years to come before I met my match in Martin. He called me out on my self-destruction and made it clear that if I wanted to survive and have a life with him; the party had to stop. It did, but not before I spiralled out of control for another two years of manic spending, drug taking and self-sabotage.



On The Way to Wonderland is now available for pre-sale, here.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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