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The abuse of crystal meth among the LGBTQ+ community has been a prominent health concern for decades. However, abuse is especially prominent among gay and bisexual men after gaining popularity in the 1990s, steadily increasing into a modern epidemic. But how did this trend begin and why has it gotten worse? Let’s explore.
History of Meth in Queer Spaces
Meth use soared in the late 1990s among gay and bisexual men in New York as an effective aphrodisiac. This is because meth is a stimulant that triggers the same pleasure centers of the brain that are active during sexual activity. In addition to increasing sex drive, the drug also lowers inhibitions that many closeted gay men struggled with around the turn of the millennium. Meth has been described as the ideal escapism drug—an aspect many queer folks seek out. Due to the hostile ostracization of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s only natural that so many pursue escapism as a form of relief.
Also worth noting is the use of gay bars and clubs as community centers which only served to broaden drug use in the population. When drugs become the key to social inclusion, and consequently, meth as the primary gateway to sex, an epidemic is born.
Its Persistence in Modern Queer Culture
Recently it’s come to light that meth use has increased by 600% in the United States since 2013. By comparison, opioid use increased 350% in the same time span. The advent of dating apps like Tinder and Grindr has seen a resurgence in meth use among gay men. Particularly due to the return of sex parties hosted by and for party drug users. In most cases, these parties involve copious amounts of unprotected sex motivated by meth abuse.
Unfortunately, when discussing LGBTQ+ issues, it’s necessary to talk about HIV in some capacity. Naturally, meth is detrimental to every demographic but it hits the HIV-positive demographic especially hard. Meth amplifies susceptibility to HIV by weakening the immune system. Gay men who are already positive and still using meth also reduce the effectiveness of their HIV medication. Additionally, these men are more potent distributors of the virus due to higher concentrations of HIV present in their semen.
“Don’t Say, Gay“
Legislature such as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that recently passed in Florida is destructive and isolating to the LGBTQ+ community. Since the bill passed, anti-gay rhetoric has spiked 406% on Twitter. As shown above, negative reception like this encourages queer folk to seek out escapism in the form of drug use. In many ways, isolation is a core reason people turn to drugs.
Nova Recovery Center offers LGBTQ+ affirmative treatment with drug rehab facilities in Wimberley, Houston, and Austin Texas. If you or someone you know is struggling with meth addiction, Nova has inclusive resources tailored to help any individual. Call (512) 520 – 0255 for more information on how to begin the journey to recovery.