It’s like a ‘tidal wave of euphoria and joy coming over your body’ said one client describing the feeling of doing crystal meth. He went on to describe how after doing crystal meth he suddenly felt so happy and content as if all of the problems in his life had suddenly dissipated. Others using crystal meth describe the feeling as a wave of incredibly strong joy and calmness that colours everything you do or think about. Perhaps, then, it’s not hard to see why crystal meth, commonly known as tina, is so addictive and why it is such an attractive drug. Crystal meth is snorted, smoked or injected (slamming). These are the fastest and most addictive ways to do crystal meth, but other common ways include booty bumping – dissolved in water and injected into the rectum and hot railing – hot glass stem placed over meth crystals and then inhaled.
An article published on the 12th January shows an increase of crystal meth use amongst gay men on the London gay scene.Crystal meth use became popular on the west coast of the U.S. amongst the gay community in the 1990s before spreading to the East Coast and then to gay scenes in Europe and beyond. In 2005 use amongst London gay men generally was 7%, but it was nearly three times that, at 20% on the gay scene and 35% amongst HIV positive men with multiple partners. PnP (Party and Play), in particular, appears to be becoming more common amongst gay men in the city. This is where house parties are organised involving intense use of crystal meth and multiple sex partners.
Doing crystal meth isn’t all fun and partying. There is a very dark side to the drug too. This is possibly clearest when users talk about the come down off the drug. Crystal meth is taken because of its euphoric and stimulant effects. Users will often stay awake for 48 hours or more, may lose their appetite and may become antisocial. Some become paranoid and others may have hallucinations. Following this, users often experience a tough come down where they feel very tired, depressed and have an increased appetite. With long term use psychosis and insomnia can become problems, as can ‘meth mouth’ where dry mouth, poor oral hygiene and teeth grinding can cause the teeth to fall out and even cause the jay to collapse.
One side effect while taking crystal meth is increased libido, reduced inhibitions and self confidence. Sex on crystal meth can result in long sessions that are aggressive and can sometimes lead to bleeding. For these reasons there is growing evidence that crystal meth use (amongst other drugs) is linked to increased risky sexual behaviour. A recent article showed that crystal meth users are twice as likely to have unprotected sex. Crystal has also been identified as one of the key factors in rising HIV and STI prevalence amongst the gay community. There is also evidence that increasing crystal meth use has consequences for drug adherence for within the positive community, with rising use causing reduced drug compliance. As a result of these factors reducing crystal meth use is an important challenge for those working in the sexual health field. In the US this was approached by the ‘Crystal fee and sexy’ campaign which included billboards targeted at the gay male community, such as the one below, which was put up in New York.
Crystal Meth US Working Group Poster
In London there are various organisations that provide support for gay and bi men who are worried about their drug use. The following are good starting points:
Antidote – LGBT specific alcohol and drug support including drop-ins, one-to-one sessions and counselling: Click here for info.
CODE clinic – Tuesdays 5-7pm at 56 Dean Street clinic for gay and bi men into drugs and/or harder side of sex : More info here.
GMI – Counselling, mentoring and one-to-one sexual health sessions including the link between drug use and unprotected sex, firstname.lastname@example.org
THT – Online resource on drug use for gay men. Click here to view.
Open Doors – Australian guide book on alcohol and drugs LGBT young people. Can be downloaded here.
GMI provide free counselling, mentoring and one-to-one sexual health sessions for gay and bisexual men and transgendered folk in London. For more information contact Tony – email@example.com
The views in the website are those of Tony Furlong and do not necessarily reflect those of GMI.