“In 2006, 43% of all new HIV infections reported at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center were individuals who had used meth. That’s almost half!” – LA Gay & Lesbian Center
Fancy yourself to be a social media addict? You’re getting off lucky, Baby: you’re just the victim of another First World Problem.
Sadly, another much less fabulous First World Problem affecting the gay community is crystal meth addiction and recovery. Meth user statistics are chilling, and gay and lesbian centers across the United States continue to report similarly devastating findings.
You’ve probably already seen the stirring, troubling and impactful Faces of Meth public service ads around (if you haven’t yet, prepare for a mind-blowing wake up call).
Here’s the deal: Before and After ad campaigns are effective, but not effective enough.
Crystal meth’s cheap, and the high is hypnotic. “I’m in control; I just like a little Tina….” Sound familiar? Meth’s still in high demand, still an essential weekend party favor, still the unofficial aphrodisiac with diminishing returns.
Let’s review: when actively taking meth, gay men are at the highest risk for contracting HIV. This fact can’t be emphasized or repeated enough.
tina(a.k.a. Bristol, a.k.a. crystal methamphetamine) hits hard and fast, like a hurricane. In the wake of the damage, it’s hard to find recovery resources when you don’t know where to look.
If you or someone you know is using (read: abusing), times have changed: they don’t have to sit through dull, monotone, droning lectures in order to get treatment. Thanks to pioneers like the Red Hot organization and Tweaker.org, LGBT health activists continue to meet people where they are, while making sobriety downright delicious. That’s right: recovery is hot!
Here Are 5 Helpful Tips for Losing the Tweaker Lifestyle And Loving Life:
1) Get Curious.
When you’re abusing drugs or helping someone get clean, cleaning up the denial is your first job.
Meth users are convinced they’re hotter than Iron Man and stronger than Superman. That’s when condoms and getting sober become like Kryptonite. They might not even think they need help.
Just start asking questions: it sets reasoning and healing in motion. Examples: “Where are your party friends when the party’s over and you feel like sh*t?” Or, “O.D.’ing on meth can happen over time…did you know that? You might be overdosing right now.” Another prompt: “Think about how you really feel after taking meth instead of how you think it’s going to feel.” Try not to make them feel guilty. Just ask earnest questions.
2) Get Online.
Research helps. There are many meetups, videos, celebrations and organizations that can make sobriety fun: Here are just a few: clean and crazy meetups, queer and sober celebrations, and the Tweaker.org blog. LGBT centers (whether or not you live in the area) are always extremely helpful for folks seeking recovery help (Lgbtcenters.org).
3) Get on The Phone.
Health and healing isn’t just an Interwebs thing. Call a friend or ally you know you can trust. Call an LGBT Center (it doesn’t have to be local to you). You can even call the GLBT National Help Center National Helpline at 888-THE-GLNH (888-843-4564).
4) Get Offline!
Stay busy. Do other stuff (note: you don’t have to ìbe in recovery 24/7, literally). Anything that’s not abusing drugs counts. Exercise in community (http://www.frontrunners.org), or just be out and aboutófind sober organizations and friends who will still love you when you’re clean and crazy, or queer and sober. Circulate!
5) Get Real.
Most important of all, be kind with yourself and give yourself a break. Whether you’re helping someone get clean or in recovery yourself, the journey takes courage. Relapses can happen. Now more than ever, gay-friendly support is available. That’s something we should really take advantage of if we can. When you’re healing, embrace all help available, because you don’t have to heal alone. Show yourself a little extra love for taking the best care of yourself that you can.
You’re family. We need you. Stay healthy.