The LGBTQ+ community has grappled with the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS, and spreading awareness has become an integral component of national risk reduction. However, the exacerbated issue of methamphetamine abuse and addiction throughout the LGBTQ+ community seems to receive little attention.
The majority of American citizens would likely still consider meth a “poor man’s drug.” Meth addiction has rapidly become five to 10 times more likely amongst urban, bisexual, middle-class men than amongst any other portion of the U.S. population. Still, the general public seems to fail to see just how devastatingly intertwined the still prevalent HIV diagnoses and the rampant meth use throughout the LGBTQ+ community indeed are.
Meth in the Gay Community
As if the community didn’t have enough stigma condemning them, meth addiction doesn’t make things easier. The link is so prevalent that people talk about an epidemic of gay meth use. Some gay men even feel peer pressure to use meth.
However, the truth is only a minority of gay men use meth. Let’s look at some myths and facts.
Myth: All Gay Men Use Meth
Reality: So far, studies only explore a wide range of gay men using meth with numbers fluctuating between 10 to 75 percent. That’s a far too wide range to make it a valid statement. The number of men who consistently use meth is less than half, which means close to 85% of gay men don’t use meth.
Myth: Meth is Gay Men’s Go-to Drug
Reality: Actually, gay men tend to gravitate towards other substances. One U.K. study found that 21% of gay drug users chose cannabis versus 12% who use meth.
Myth: Meth Use Leads to Unprotected Sex
Reality: Many drugs lead to high-risk behaviors, including cocaine, Viagra, alcohol, cannabis, and amphetamines, to name a few.
The Problems with Chemsex
The role of peer pressure in addiction is not new. For example, around 55% of teens try drugs because they felt pressured by their friends. These types of pressures, unfortunately, don’t stop once we become adults.
Many gay and bisexual men feel the pressure to partake in chemsex, which involves the use of drugs to enhance sex. By using drugs, such as meth, those engaging in sex can increase their pleasure, remove inhibitions, boost their confidence, and have sex for longer. However, heterosexuals also turn to chemsex to enhance their performance and experience.
The practice of chemsex can be quite dangerous. The use of meth for “party and play” or sex parties leads to genuine meth addiction, and it also places users at higher risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The same applies to other party drugs like ketamine, ecstasy, and LSD.
The Dangers of Meth Addiction
Meth addiction is extremely challenging to battle. Studies estimate that close to 61% of meth users will relapse within one year after leaving substance abuse treatment.
The consequences of crystal meth addiction are not limited to the spreading of potentially life-threatening diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C. Some of the effects of meth abuse include:
- Damage to brain cells
- Paranoia and anxiety
- Infections on the skin
- Hallucinations and psychosis
- Deterioration of teeth
- Cardiovascular disease
Meth Addiction Treatment Options
Fortunately, there are various treatment options for meth addiction. Since there are no medications to treat crystal methamphetamine dependence, treatment consists of different therapies.
- Drug Detox Program: often the first step in treating meth addiction to help individuals stop taking the drug
- Medication-assisted Treatment: because meth withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and life-threatening, medication-assisted treatments help users start detoxing safely and in a healthy environment
- Drug Rehab Programs: gives patients a safe, controlled environment with counseling and medical supervision
- Outpatient Programs: for people who must maintain responsibilities outside of rehab, outpatient programs offer more flexibility
- Aftercare Support: after drug rehab, former meth addicts are still at high risk of relapse, aftercare programs provide ongoing support
- Support Groups: peer-support groups like Narcotics Anonymous provide nonprofessional support and a sense of community for those in recovery and can help maintain long-term abstinence from drugs
Get Help Today
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse, seek treatment today. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we proudly offer personalized LGBTQ+ drug addiction programs to help you find sobriety. What starts as “party and play” use can quickly evolve to a life-threatening addiction is left untreated. Please don’t wait until it’s too late and speak with our addiction professionals today.