Eating Smoke: An Autobiography

Eating Smoke: An Autobiography

In Eating Smoke: An Autobiography, Chris Thrall, a former Royal Marine, tells the story of how he moved to Hong Kong in the mid-90s to work for an international business marketing security alarms, and ended up addicted to methamphetamine.

While Eating Smoke recounts his experiences as a bouncer for a night club run by the infamous 14K triad—a  powerful Chinese organized crime family—much of the action occurs inside Chris Thrall’s head; as his methamphetamine use leads him deeper into a psychotic state in which he believes he is the target of a bizarre city-wide conspiracy. Eating Smoke was published in 2011 and has been enthusiastically reviewed. Fifteen years after his experiences in Hong Kong, Chris Thrall is free from meth addiction and shares his journey.

Reading The Book

You can read the first chapter of the book on Eating Smoke’s Facebook page. It is a riveting beginning to this 400-page psychological thriller. Part of what makes the book so interesting is the wealth of vivid details about the backstreets of Hong Kong, from Wan Chai’s hotspots to the cheap hotels of Chungking Mansions. Thrall loved Hong Kong, and learned Cantonese and studied the history and culture deeply. The way the book takes you inside Thrall’s mind as he plunges into drug-induced madness is purely fascinating.

How His Addiction Started

As a young man, Thrall spent seven successful years in the Royal Marine Commandos. He served in Northern Ireland, trained in the Arctic and became a parachutist. Eager for new experiences, at age 25 Thrall moved to Hong Kong to further his business career in what he knew was a risky venture.

After losing everything, Thrall got a job at a computer marketing firm where a colleague offered him meth one day in the restroom. He remembers that once he got back to his desk, “I suddenly felt this rush. . . . I knew I was addicted straight away.” The next day, Thrall immediately purchased more methamphetamine, describing the ease with which he found the drug on the streets as “simple as buying milk.” At first he felt fantastic, but quickly the addiction took over his life. Meth prevents users from sleeping; and in their exhaustion, users experience hallucinations and eventually lose touch with reality.

How He Recovered

In an interview, Chris describes himself wandering the streets of Hong Kong, listening to voices in his head and believing that the entire city was connected with a system of pulleys. One day, he began climbing a giant construction crane, and came to his senses midway through the climb.

He thought of his family and realized that he might die a futile death. Immediately he scheduled a flight back home to the UK. Even though he had only been gone for a year and a half, his experiences had so changed his appearance that his dad could not recognize him at the airport.

Once home in Plymouth, Chris’s meth addiction continued. Eventually, however, he had another epiphany when he looked in the mirror one day and could not recognize himself. Chris was able to slowly take himself off meth on his own.

Today Chris helps other addicts find their way back. Despite his mind-bending experiences in Hong Kong, however, he remains an optimistic, open-minded world traveler. When asked what advice he would give his younger self, Thrall responds, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

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