Sex talk
Speaking of Meth

Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

"It's not that I'm a puritan," says one gay guy. "Actually, if I could use crystal methedrine safely, I would. The couple of times I tried it, I liked the way it made me feel. And I had sex till the sun came up. But the stuff really is poison, so I just won't do it anymore."

He's not alone in enjoying a meth rush. The drug – also known as "crystal," "Chrissie," "Tina," and the like – has been enjoying widespread popularity in many segments of the gay community. And that's a big problem. Says one expert in the field, "Crystal is very, very addictive. Meth users will usually insist that they're not hooked, that they can handle their drug use fine. But then they'll tell you they haven't slept in a week."

Like other amphetamine-class drugs, methedrine is a central nervous system stimulant. Many speeders smoke vaporized crystal from glass pipes. Other users, not content with the rush they get from smoking, shoot up, or "slam," the drug. Meth not only keeps users wide awake, it also floods the brain with dopamine, a pleasure-producing chemical. Guys on crystal often feel sexier, more powerful, and less inhibited. So, while not strictly an aphrodisiac, meth is often used to add spark to sex sessions. There's even a term for that: "party and play" (or "PnP"). But once the dose of dopamine is depleted, erstwhile partiers "crash" into depression, and often use more meth in an effort to feel better. It's a vicious cycle that leads to heavy-duty dependency, not to mention such unlovely consequences as hostility, paranoia, and/or a loss of teeth.

Not that everyone who tries meth likes it. Says one man, "It mostly made me nervous. And afterwards, I really felt like shit."

Asks one drug-free dude, "Who wants to hook up with a tweaker who's sweating profusely, chatting incessantly, and has bad breath? And boys on meth often can't even get their dicks hard. Not attractive."

One of meth's many deleterious effects is a lowering of inhibitions. While that can make a normally shy fellow feel like a sex machine, getting high too often leads to high-risk behavior – many new HIV infections are linked to party-and-play missteps.

For hardcore crystal users – those fun-loving folks known as "speed freaks" – only getting clean will save them from a disastrous downward spiral, and the success rate for rehab is discouragingly low. But there are a few perhaps-fortunate fellows who do manage to use crystal every once in a while and not get hooked. For them (as well as anyone else who uses intoxicants), a bit of "harm reduction" is in order. Make sure there are condoms and lube handy, even if fucking isn't planned. Talk to your play partner about safety and limits before the drugs come out. Drink plenty of water. And for heaven's sake, once you're done playing, get enough sleep!

Still, there are those who bridle at the notion of harm reduction. Says one man in his 50s, "I've seen a lot in my life: quaaludes, cocaine, the onset of AIDS. So it's really upsetting to hear about all these young men addicted to speed barebacking while high, and getting infected with HIV. It's like watching a car crash in slow motion, and though I think of myself as tolerant of other people's foibles, I've had enough. At least when you do stupid stuff on booze, you often pass out before things get too serious. Tweakers, though, have hours and hours to get themselves in trouble. Using meth is just plain wrong. Period."

In a perfect world, of course, everything that made us feel great would be good for us, too. But it's not a perfect world. Not even close. So please – be careful out there.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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