Notes from Underground

BY ANDREW MOODY

Smoking crack feels good.

That’s the honest truth. It will completely destroy you, but the fact remains: smoking crack feels good.

I first started smoking crack when I was about twenty or twenty one. It seemed like a natural progression for me. I fell in love with the romance of crack addiction. I had already smoked cannabis, popped ecstasy, snorted cocaine, experimented with legal highs like Salvia, and had been prescribed Lithium to stabilise the mood swings that I was adamant I didn’t have. My first psychiatrist, Dr Gunnan Ghosh diagnosed me with Textbook Bipolar Disorder, the first punch thrown in what would become two decades of bitterly fighting the NHS Mental Health System.

Crack addicts often deliberately get anybody they can to become addicts too. My first ‘crack buddy’ did this to me, by providing me with three or four free rocks, to give me the thirst. The logic is obvious. Your money is now part of the Crack Collective. It is no longer yours.

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I have been legally homeless twice, and was a crack addict at several points in my youth. It has now been five years since I smoked crack or did any Class A drugs. If you know as many crack addicts as I do, having spent nearly twenty years in and out of various acute and secure psychiatric wards, you know that the odds of quitting crack and heroin addiction is exceptionally low. I first self-published my debut novel SMOKING IS COOL in 2009 whilst battling my compulsion to live outside of common reality. I wrote SMOKING IS COOL over a period of seven years, from my first section under the Mental Health Act of 1983 in 2002, until I was living in what I perceived to be a haunted house with only £80 to survive on a week. SMOKING IS COOL both predates and anticipates the concept of the Twitter Troll, but I was also hugely influenced by prison memoirs of all kinds, Mark Brandon ‘Chopper’ Read’s series of CHOPPER books, the Russian Gulag books of Solzhenitsyn and Dostoyevsky, and whatever wild, occult details that came to my mind. Like any writer who is honest with themselves, I wrote SMOKING IS COOL for myself. When I was a precocious teenager, I made the decision that if you really wanted to read a book that had never been written before, you should write it. Drugs helped me with my enormous journey from being a manic, suicidal wannabe into the author of an instantly intriguing book.

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I pulled SMOKING IS COOL from publication in 2013, and quickly fell into a quagmire of crime and drug addiction. During this period in my life, when I was living in a one bedroom flat in Orpington, I began writing a fictional memoir of a UK based school shooter. What eventually became YOUR ONLY FRIENDS ARE MAKE BELIEVE, was initially inspired by the horror of the 1999 Columbine massacre which had genuinely disturbed me as a sixteen year old teen, and was the culmination of almost twenty years of obsessive writing. By the time I released the book free on Kindle Unlimited, I had re-released SMOKING IS COOL with a nifty new cover, and was finding success as a journalist. I finished the book high on crack and heroin, the last time I ever used either drug.

Now five years after the re-release of SMOKING IS COOL and my decision to spend twenty years on a book and then give it away free, I have been rehoused after spending 17 months inside three psychiatric secure units. I have a smart TV, Netflix, Kindle, Digital radio, state of the art phone, wireless earphones, and a laptop. For someone who has spent so much time locked up, and having been inside hospitals during the entirety of the Covid 19 pandemic, (thereby having no experience of the Covid Lockdown) every day feels like a victory.