Meth attraction in the gay community

06-29-2017 Posted in drug abuse, Substance Abuse

The incidence of drug and alcohol addiction is much higher in gay men than in heterosexual men. The gay community has the highest usage patterns of “party” drugs. Crystal meth, known by several street names including Ice, Glass, Shards and Tina, is the most popular party drug used by gay men, and its use is associated with severely negative repercussions. Despite the drug’s harmful side-effects and studies showing that meth can worsen the condition of HIV-positive people, it is highly sought-after in the gay community.

Meth’s enduring appeal among gay men can be attributed to several factors. Gay men tend to suffer from the perceived shame associated with homosexuality. This exposes them to low self-regard, mental disorders and sexual abuse, ultimately encouraging them to abuse substances. Within communities and societies, there is a general apathy towards gay men and same-sex relations. The resulting isolation, fear and stigma lead to an emotional void which is filled by highly potent means, such as meth.

Medical advances have led to great strides in the treatment of HIV, including lower mortality rates. Yet, many gay men suffer from survivor syndrome and have recourse to limited outlets to express their angst. To alleviate their pain, such men turn to meth. The increasing use of gay dating sites and mobile “hookup” apps have fueled the subcultures of “chemsex” or “Party and Play” (PNP), where the use of chemicals such as meth precedes or is concurrent with prolonged and unprotected sexual activity.

Dopamine rush from meth leads to false invincibility

Meth releases nearly 12 times the quantity of dopamine which the body produces naturally, leading to high levels of dependency. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates the brain’s reward and pleasure functions. Many gay men are initiated into using meth during PNP sexual encounters, and using the drug along with a group of people increases feelings of intimacy. The surge of dopamine produces high libido and bodily desires which need to be satisfied immediately.

People in the gay community attach significant importance to others’ opinions in order to improve their self-worth. This is especially true for gay men of a certain age, usually 40 years and above, and men diagnosed with HIV. Such individuals, who are at the highest risk of developing addiction to meth, feel that they are less sexually attractive and more detached. The drug induces users to falsely believe that they possess enhanced mental sharpness and physical prowess. Under the influence of meth, gay men briefly shun their inhibitions regarding stigma, guilt, self-consciousness, physical limitations and societal pressures.

The false sense of invincibility and high sex drive can lead gay men to indulge in prolonged sexual encounters, that too with partners who are seemingly beyond their reach. Although the sexual bonding in such situations is intense, it rarely lasts beyond that. Meth impacts brain function by severely inhibiting the ability of people to make decisions or foresee the results of their actions. This leads to unprotected sex and increases the risk of developing HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Helping gay men overcome underlying issues causing meth addiction

The false sense of communal belonging and invincibility makes it difficult for gay men to relinquish their addiction to meth. The gay community continues to be ridiculed, shamed, socially ostracized and abused, all of which significantly contribute to the development of addiction to meth and other drugs. Lack of societal empathy and support encourages gay men to use harmful substances. For a meaningful change to take place, there has to be a monumental shift in the way society perceives gay men and sexual minorities as a whole. New intervention methods need to be more holistic to treat drug addiction, mental disorders and other issues simultaneously and not just restrict the focus to drug abuse.

Addiction to drugs can lead to devastating results without timely intervention. If you know someone who is battling drug abuse, contact the 24/7 Drug Addiction Helpline to get help for drug abuse. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-403-5607 or chat online with our experts to know more about the top inpatient drug abuse treatment centers and outpatient drug abuse treatment centers in your area.