Chris Fleming

May 14, 2020

On Drugs

Giramondo Publishing 2019

"After I’d finished my rapid-fire history of self-justification he paused and then said, deadpan and rural-Australian-slow: 'Right. Ok. So how is that all working out for you?'" On Drugs (Giramondo Publishing, 2019) explores Australian philosopher Chris Fleming’s experience of addiction, which begins when he is a student at the University of Sydney and escalates into a life-threatening compulsion. In a memoir by turns insightful and outlandish, Fleming combines meticulous observation with a keen sense of the absurdity of his actions. He describes the intricacies of drug use and acquisition, the impact of drugs on the intellect and emotions, and the chaos that emerges as his tightly managed existence unravels into hospitalisations, arrests and family breakdown. His account is accompanied by searching reflections on his childhood, during which he developed acute obsessive compulsive disorder and became fixated on the rituals of martial arts, music-making and bodybuilding. In confronting the pathos and comedy of his drug use in Sydney, On Drugs also opens out into meditations on the self and its deceptions, religion, masculinity, mental illness, and the tortuous path to recovery. On Drugs is a uniquely Australian experience of a universal quest for oblivion.
Dr Matthew Thompson is a literary journalism specialist recently with the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia but now based in the USA. Dr Thompson has a special focus on the conflict areas of the Sulu archipelago and Mindanao in the southern Philippines. He is the author of MAYHEM, Running With The Blood God, and My Colombian Death. For more information visit

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Dr Matt Thompson is a literary journalism specialist recently resettled in America's Pacific Northwest after calling time on an Australian life.
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