Pubdate: Thu, 18 May 2006
Source: Capital Xtra! (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 Pink Triangle Press
Author: Shaun Proulx
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Drug Culture: A Candid Look At The Highs And Lows Of Doing Meth

You can snort bumps of it as powder, or put little shards of it in a 
glass pipe, heat it and smoke the vapours. Or you can dissolve a few 
crystals in water and inject the fluid up your butt.

You can put a little dab of it on a moist finger and bootie-bump it 
- -- if you don't mind burning the inside of your ass.

There are oh-so-many ways to ingest crystal methamphetamine.

It's been 45 minutes since I snorted my first bump, which shot up my 
nose with such a forceful burning sting my right eye welled a massive 
tear; I abruptly stood up from my chair to do a little epileptic 
dance. But I'm fine a couple minutes later.

Crystal meth in Ottawa's gay community

Fast forward to right now: as I type this, a nice warm rush is fluid 
in my body.

On my desk is a yellow jewellery envelope filled with about a dozen 
tiny crystals you'd need tweezers to pick up, and one larger chunk. 
For $60 it doesn't look like much, but a little goes a long way, 
baby. I'm starting to feel high; before my bump I felt totally 
knackered. Now: Motherfuck.

In the party boys' world, a little something called crystal meth is 
currently reigning supreme in larger Canadian cities. If gay men are 
known for promiscuity, then crystal is the quintessential gay drug: 
finished with one cock, you crave another and another and another; 
crystal lets users have the most mind-blowing sex of their lives, 
even with men they'd never normally be attracted to.

Step into the world of crystal meth -- also known as Tina, hydro, 
crank or ice -- and enjoy boundless energy, increased sensation, 
horniness, killer confidence and zero sexual inhibitions. The problem 
is that once you leave crystal meth land, reality can end up seeming 
so inhospitable you just want to retreat back into Tina's version, 
where it's okay not to eat or otherwise take care of yourself. 
Crystal meth is the perfect party and play (P 'n' P) drug -- except 
that the meth men I talked to have a tough time maintaining a use 
that's purely recreational. You want to keep coming back.

"I could do Tina all the time, easy," says Tom, 39 (all of the users 
and ex-users I talked for this piece asked that I not use their real 
names). "I don't have a lot of sex, but when I go into a horny phase 
and I'm in the mood, I start thinking about Tina."

Tom works for himself. Though he tries to limit his use to every 
other month, if he has spare time in his schedule he can find himself 
doing back-to-back weekend binges.

"I go to the baths usually, wherever I think there will be wild sex," 
Tom says. "I love to jerk off on Tina. I can't keep my hands off my 
dick. For me it's all about the cock, and on Tina you outlast 
everyone at the baths. But eventually you get so horny you'll pick 
from the slimmest of pickings, even if it's someone I'd never fuck. 
Drop that towel and show me a big dick and you're in. The bigger the better."

The super-charge, the intensity, the buzz surpassing coke, E and the 
other usual suspects, have earned Tina her en-thusiastic reception 
since arriving in gay Toronto several years ago. Crystal meth: the 
number-one seller for three out of three busy gay-oriented downtown 
drug dealers I spoke with.

"I can have sex without it," says 50-something Mitch, who uses 
crystal meth each weekend. "But when you're hooking up with guys 
looking to play off the 'net or even the phone lines, 99 percent of 
the time P 'n' P is part of the package." Forget asking about stats 
or sexual preferences -- what's the point in learning all that info 
only to find out the guy isn't into enhancing the experience with drugs?

Just like Cher, Tina's endless world tour extends well beyond 
Toronto. The World Health Organization estimates 34 million people 
around the globe use meth daily. Tina gigs in unexpected places. 
Witness a recent documentary on road workers in Alberta who can't get 
enough, or recurrent headlines about her allegedly abundant use by 
British Columbians. In Ottawa, gay leaders and health workers worry 
that the drug will soon make a breakthrough.

Partly because of her sexual attributes, Tina has found an 
extraordinary fan base with gay men.

"Oh, the things gay men do in pursuit of great sex," smiles Rod, 35, 
an ex-meth user who's been off the drug for more than a year, not 
counting a couple of slips. "Sex is gonna be crazy and twisted and 
sick and perverted when you do Tina, and you know that when you do it."

"I know that Tina very well," adds Simon, 36, who uses it about once 
a month. "You have this incredible 14-hour fucking session that's so 
unbelievably hot and raunchy one weekend, so that when the next one 
rolls around, it's like, 'It's the weekend again -- let's get some more.'"


I'm upbeat and all's right with the world. I feel glad, like 
Christmastime is upon us. I shake out a couple of small crystals, 
sandwich them between two business cards and roll a paperweight over 
it to crush it to fine powder. Just a moment of effort but in it I 
feel impatience: just fix the bump already. I draw the powder into a 
tiny little lump, take a small straw. Toot!

A little like someone's hit my fast-forward button, I am on the go. I 
don't like stopping a shag to search for something, so before the fun 
begins I am hyper-organizing: two bottles of water on either side of 
the bed, fresh poppers from the freezer, toys, lube. Roll a few 
joints. My eyes suddenly feel sensitive to the light so I turn off my 
lamps and light candles in the bathroom, bedroom and in the living 
room, where raunchy porn plays, sound muted. I crave dick.

My playmate for the night is chilling, wearing only a jockstrap and 
boots. He reaches for a glass pipe and lights a flame beneath it. 
After taking a big puff he passes the pipe to me. We kiss and I pass 
smoke from my mouth to his. He is so sexy to me and my mind is on 
overdrive with everything I know we'll do together and I am entirely 
in the moment, focussed on nothing but.

I need some gum, he informs me, and then I notice I'm grinding my jaw 
incessantly, a common crystal side effect. I grab chewing gum for 
both of us, as I'm not the only one. I look in a mirror. By now we've 
dosed a fair amount. My pupils are so dilated my eyes are black.


South of the border, the use of crystal meth in gay communities has 
been called a crisis, with Los Angeles, then San Francisco and 
Seattle crying out about the self-destruction of gay communities. In 
New York, federal prosecutors just unveiled posters featuring the 
names and mug shots of alleged crystal meth dealers in order to raise 
awareness about the drug.

Tina is said by ex-users to be brutally addictive. The United 
Foundation For AIDS estimates that 42 percent of first-time users 
report the desire to use meth again, with an estimated 84 percent of 
second-time users beginning a pattern of use.

Rod, 44, an ex-user, tried the drug overseas in 1994, and soon found 
himself spending $1,000 each weekend on it in Toronto, financed by a 
well-paying job he eventually lost. Two-full-day sessions at 
bathhouses were the norm.

"I would be high, but dehydrated and hungry and I'd do nothing to 
take care of myself. I would have sex with people I normally never 
would. I was focussed on uninhibited pig sex and nothing else."

Rod now deliberately keeps his weekends packed with social plans so 
that he's always too busy to be tempted. Friday and Saturday nights 
remain big triggers.

"I take sleeping pills so I can just go to bed and sleep," says Rod. 
"Every morning I wake up, I congratulate myself on not going out and 
doing Tina."

For Rod, the days between his meth use became more and more messy. He 
often couldn't put himself back together for work Monday morning.

"I was rendered soulless. I lost hope. Nothing matters, nothing 
phases you. I wouldn't stay in touch with my family, I didn't make 
rent, I went for days with very little water and I would skip taking 
my HIV meds. There isn't one person I care about that I didn't let 
down in some way. I was AWOL from my own life."

Crystal meth gets its foothold in the party scene almost furtively. 
Ecstasy is often laced with Tina; E users often get their first dose 
of meth that way. According to the AIDS Committee Of Toronto, a 
laboratory analysis of 94 pills in Vancouver indicated that 47 
percent of them contained methamphetamine.

A drug can affect or addict any person. But Tina's special 
relationship with gay men, a population where HIV issues remain 
paramount, raises questions about its effect on sexual behaviour.

In fact, many health agencies south of the border blame Tina for 
increases in HIV rates among gay men. Ads in bus shelters in the 
heart of Chelsea in New York read: "Huge Sale! Buy crystal, get HIV 
free." New York's queer-focussed Callen-Lorde Community Health Centre 
claims two-thirds of clients testing positive since June, 2003 say 
crystal meth was a component in their becoming positive.

San Francisco's Department Of Public Health's HIV Prevention Program 
launched a 2004 confrontational media campaign entitled Crystal Mess, 
aimed at educating gay men about HIV infections associated with 
crystal. The campaign claims that gay men who use crystal are 400 
percent more likely to become infected with HIV than non-users.

"I buy that," says Simon, 36, who is HIV-positive himself. "Whatever 
it has taken you to stay sexually active and HIV-negative for up to 
20 years, crystal meth takes all that away immediately and makes your 
priorities cock and cum. At least that's what happened to me. Safe 
sex wasn't the least bit important as much as getting raw cock up my 
ass. The desire for that is beyond comprehension until you're on Tina."

Following a year of constant use, Mark, 29 and HIV-negative, stopped 
using meth two years ago.

"I knew it was a volatile drug not to mess around with," he says. "I 
had tried it once before, at a bathhouse in Vancouver. But I got 
crystal dick, and as a top, that didn't work very well."

Crystal dick is first cousin to coke dick. Both Tina and blow are 
known to impair erections. In fact, some strict tops find themselves 
becoming bottoms not just from the Tina-inflamed desire to get 
fucked, but because being a top can be impossible after a significant 
amount of Tina is ingested. Some men pop a Viagra when they use Tina 
- -- there's little research on the effects of this combo -- or inject 
a triple mix of three erectile drugs directly into their cocks.

Clearly Tina is full of contradictions. She makes you feel sexual, 
but impairs your sexual ability, turns tops into bottoms and can 
affect judgement. But it can be hard to predict how she'll affect a 
particular person. For example, Mark didn't feel he took any more 
sexual risks on crystal.

"My brain always edits, no matter how high I get," he says. "I would 
never have unsafe sex; although it dawned on me a few times I could 
have been raped. What I did when I was on crystal was pedestrian, 
sexually. I was too high to care about sex anymore."

But it's not just a possible higher risk of contracting HIV that has 
health authorities worried. Seattle's NEON (Needle And Sex Education 
Outreach Network) is among the many organizations which say that, 
amongst other perceived problems, crystal causes serious damage in 
your mouth, shrinking blood vessels so that they can't carry enough 
blood to feed your teeth and gums properly, resulting in tooth decay, 
which can be compounded by the dry mouth it also causes.

Some studies, including the first high-resolution brain mapping of 
Tina addicts at the University Of California, Los Angeles, claim that 
crystal meth completely destroys brain cells involved in reward, 
mood, emotion and making new memories. Other claims about the dangers 
of meth, cited by organizations such as United Foundation For AIDS, 
include the risk of coma, respiratory illness, violent episodes, 
stroke, paranoia, psychotic episodes and suicidal tendencies.


My playpal and I have been at it for I don't know how long, taking 
turns fucking each other anywhere and everywhere. Over the toilet, 
the bathtub, the couch, on the floor, on the bed, on the table. 
Popping Viagra and wearing cockrings when crystal dick threatens.

When and if we try to rest for a bit we are both -- within moments -- 
seized by the need to keep fucking and so we do, despite 
breathlessness as though we've run a marathon.

I won't notice until much later, but the two large bottles of water I 
so diligently put out for us to drink remain untouched. When I happen 
to look up as we screw in the living room, I see outside the light 
changing. It's dawn, even though it feels like we only just got 
started. But we continue to fuck like whores short on rent at 
month-end. Neither of us has cum.


Mark finally stopped using Tina after a binge that left him without 
sleep for three nights.

"I went to school, looking like hell, feeling I couldn't do anything. 
And the crash. One of the worst times of my life."

Simon agrees that when Tina leaves, life can look pretty bleak.

"I have to remind myself before I take Tina that when it's over, I 
will be all right. When I run out, I don't buy more because I don't 
have a lot of cash for it. But the fact that it's over starts a 
depression and the fact that I haven't eaten in more than 24 hours or 
had any sleep, sometimes for two full nights, just makes it worse."

Simon finds even putting food in his mouth for a couple of days after 
a trip on Tina to be a tough thing, and often takes a sleeping pill 
to override still being high.

"I don't care about sleep when I'm high and certainly don't feel like 
I want to. As for food, I can't eat any even if I want to and if I 
force myself to even have a smoothie I find it tastes like I'm 
drinking shit. My whole comedown is like that. It's too awful to 
describe, you just have to experience it."


Tina has left the building and so has my fuckbuddy. Our virtually 
nonstop cumless sex session lasted 17 hours. A few hours ago we had 
to have showers because the chemical body odour we were both 
producing was getting revolting; my face was oily and gross-looking, too.

Plus I had to take my dogs out and couldn't go out in public looking 
the way I did and reeking of sex. I was paranoid about running into 
neighbours. I felt like my entire body was trembling, although it was not.

I'm still wired, I could still fuck, but my body is aching.

I'm stiff and my lips are raw and chapped, I have a rash and my jaw 
kills from grinding and grinding all night long. My eyes are severely 
stinging, too. Having spent the whole night awake, they are begging 
to shut, can't take any light anymore.

I lie on my bed, close my eyes, hyper-alert. I touch my dick. It's 
totally limp, red, raw and sore as hell from mega-usage.

The next day I don't want to get out of bed, so I don't. I jerk off 
because I can now and the release is incredible. I am in this state 
for days, during which time I conclude nothing in my life matters. No 
one would miss me if I was gone, what I'm doing with my life has no meaning.

It takes everything I have to remind myself that this is only a 
comedown. But it takes until the next week for me to wake up 
beginning to feel happy, normal.


"Being off crystal I've learned different things. I've learned to 
cum," says Rod. "I never could on that drug. But when I go out to 
have sex at the tubs, I still have to say to myself: you don't have 
to have sex with 10 guys; you can go home after just one guy. When I 
was on Tina, it was all about getting as much cock as I could. One 
would never have satisfied me. But if you think every day without 
Tina gets better or easier, you're wrong. It doesn't. I'd take some 
now if you offered."

Despite the drastic steps he has taken, which also include weekly 
therapy and plenty of self-analysis, Rod says he's conscious of his 
desire for Tina all the time, and even has fantasies of escaping to 
Berlin or Amsterdam or Palm Springs for a dirty, crystal meth-fuelled 
weekend where nobody knows him.

"And I think one day I probably will. I just can't say never. But for 
the time being, at least I feel like I'm living a real life."

Need Help?

Men's addiction support. Every Wednesday, 12:30-2pm. Oasis, 116 
Lisgar. Suite 200. 569-3488.

Toronto Vibe. A safer place to party. Information, support & resources.

AIDS Committee Of Toronto.

Needle And Sex Education Outreach Network. Details meth's health 
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman