LGBTQ Month: Methamphetamine Use in the Gay Community

Meth Use in the Gay Community


Crystal Meth use in the gay community has been a concern since the 1990’s but in recent years, use has skyrocketed. Meth is a stimulant which makes users feel euphoric, energized, and invincible. Because of these feelings the meth’s popularity has grown significantly in the club and circuit scenes as a party drug. 

A recent study found that gay men are four times more likely to try meth than straight men. What’s troubling is that meth is so addictive that users often get hooked on their very first try. 

The euphoric state helps users escape negative feelings around the social stigmas and internalized homophobia which can affect many in the gay community. Furthermore, meth’s effect on self-esteem, lowered inhibitions, and increased sexual drive, endurance and pleasure all feed into a growth in use in the pick-up scene. 


Meth Dangers

Methamphetamine use is associated with a myriad of health concerns, both short and long-term. 

Acute Health Concerns
  • Erratic, dangerous, sometimes violent behaviors
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
  • Nausea
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Impotence
  • Convulsions or seizures when used in high doses which can lead to overdose and death
Long-Term Effects of Meth Use 
  • Increased heart disease risk at a young age 
  • Higher risk of contracting HIV, STDs, Hepatitis, and MRSA
  • Permanent blood vessel damage in the brain
  • Higher risk for developing neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Epilepsy
  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Malnutrition
  • Severe tooth decay and/or loss, also known as “Meth mouth”
  • Premature skin ageing


Combining Meth with Other Drugs

The gay community is considered to be the largest consumer of “party” drugs. While crystal meth is known to be the most popular but it is often combined with other drugs (polydrug use) such as Ketamine, Poppers, and Ecstasy when in a party environment. Each of these drugs on their own carry health and safety concerns but any combination creates additional risks. For instance, speedballing, mixing sedatives with uppers like meth, can wreak havoc on the body’s systems. Polydrug use is associated with numerous health concerns and consequently it is a common cause of emergency room visits, carries high risk of overdoses, and greatly increases heart attack risk. 


Meth & STDs among MSM

Meth use in the gay community is increasing STD risks in the party scene. Among men who have sex with men (MSM), apps like Grindr and Tinder are increasing the prevalence of anonymous sex parties, in which crystal meth use is commonplace. Because meth lowers sexual inhibitions and impairs judgement, users are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners. Both of these behaviors increase the risk of contracting STDs and HIV. In fact, studies have found a strong association between methamphetamine use and HIV infection. Another study found that methamphetamine users had two times as many partners in the prior four weeks, were 1.7 more likely to have gonorrhea, twice as likely to have Chlamydia, and five times as likely to have syphilis then the general population. 

Further risk for disease comes when methamphetamine is injected using shared needles which increases the risk of contracting HIV, Hepatitis and MRSA. 


Getting Help 

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug. Therefore, detoxing in a clinical treatment environment can help immensely with commitment, withdrawals, and support. Treating addiction as a medical condition offers the best chance for long-term recovery and a healthy sober life. 

However you identify, if you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, help is available. Call us today to find out how we can support you through this difficult time. We’re here to listen. 



Colfax G. Crystal meth and the epidemic of HIV/STD among MSM in the United States. Panel session 10.

Jones TS. Methamphetamine use and infectious diseases. Panel session 10.

Dangers of Meth and Sex Addiction

Sex Addiction and Meth | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Meth addiction comes with many risks and the potential for adverse consequences, including impulsive, unsafe sex. Meth use lowers inhibitions and can lead to a person having sex with someone they don’t know or engaging in unprotected sex or risky behavior.

Sex addiction is a process addiction that works on the brain in similar ways as meth. Meth use increases concentrations of dopamine, a neurochemical in the central nervous system related to feelings of pleasure and reward. Having sexual encounters with others can essentially do the same thing. A person who is addicted to sex will seek it out despite adverse consequences, including broken relationships, financial hardships, or any other problems that result.

For these reasons, it’s not hard to see why a person on meth would be sexually promiscuous, nor is it difficult to understand why a person with a sex addiction would use a stamina booster like meth. Initially, a person may be drawn to meth use as a means of enhancing and prolonging a sexual experience. Unfortunately, those who do are at a high risk of developing a chemical dependence on meth, as well as full-blown addiction.

Meth and Sex

Why These Two Addictions Increase the Risk of Relapse

By some estimates, approximately three-quarters of meth addicts report that sex is the number one reason why they relapse. In recovery, sex may not be as good as it once was because they are no longer able to achieve the level of dopamine the brain produced on meth. 

This effect is a double-whammy for those addicted to both because, unlike meth use, sex is a normal part of life. In other words, sex addicts in recovery are not asked to abstain from sex forever, like people with chemical dependences are usually required to do regarding their drug(s) of choice.

Moreover, staying off of meth is very challenging for some sex addicts because, at some point, they will probably engage in sex. Their brains have already associated sex with intense pleasure, and a meth high is a big component of this experience. It may ultimately be quite difficult to disentangle the two addictions.

On a chemical level, repeated use of meth tends to cause a prolonged reduction in dopamine levels in the brains as well as the number of dopamine uptake sites. Over time, meth exposure makes it nearly impossible for heavy users to experience pleasure from any activity without meth, including during sex. Meth addicts often fear that they’ll never have sex as satisfying or intense as when they were high, making it very challenging to quit or remain sober.

Conversely, if a person relapses on meth, their inhibitions will once again fall away, and they are more likely to return to unhealthy behavior. At that point, they probably won’t be able to think of a single reason why they should not—after all, they are back on meth and not thinking about their own best interests any longer.

Active sex addicts generally feel free to act on their own desires without limits. As noted, meth use can dramatically decrease a person’s inhibitions, and this allows sex addicts free reign over their behaviors. In other words, they can do pretty much anything they want without shame or guilt. The intoxicating and stimulating qualities of meth can make people fearless and reckless and remove any doubts that addicts may have regarding the fulfillment of their sexual desires. 

Consequences of Using Meth

What Is Codependency? | Midwood Addiction Treatment

Meth is a highly addictive substance, and repeated use can result in a seemingly endless number of severe and life-threatening health conditions. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Severe dental problems
  • Tracks marks from injecting
  • Sores and abscesses
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiac complications
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Coma
  • Death

Meth addicts also typically face a host of financial and legal problems stemming from meth manufacturing and use. They can become very secretive, isolated individuals who lock themselves away from former friends and family in favor of associating with others who use meth.

Long-term meth use can cause permanent damage to the brain and body. Former users often experience a least some dysphoria, meaning that they will not be able to feel pleasure from the same activities that they once did before meth use.

Finally, heavy meth users may neglect many personal responsibilities altogether and live in unsafe or unsterile environments. Children may be abused or neglected in some way, and people who regularly use meth are at an increased risk of engaging in domestic violence and perpetrating or becoming victims of assaults or abuse.

Risks of Sex Addiction

The effects of sex addiction are not as clear cut because it is a process rather than a substance addiction, but they are, indeed, vast. Possible physical effects include sexually-transmitted diseases and infections. Sex addicts may also put themselves in dangerous situations, risking assault, or other harm to their bodies or emotional well-being.

There are many adverse emotional problems associated with sex addiction. Sex addicts often do feel guilt or shame over their behavior and may suffer from depression or another mental illness. 

Sex addicts often fear abandonment and tend to have very deep-seated issues that may stem from long-term emotional problems. These issues may also be related to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in childhood. Having sexing does not cure these issues, and rather, merely serves as a distraction from them.

People who are close to someone who is a sex addict also suffer. Significant others or spouses may feel alienated, depressed, or angry—especially if the partner is actively cheating on them. Spouses of sex addicts are often humiliated and may be subject to a certain amount of coercion or abuse regarding their own sexual encounters with the addict.

Sex Addiction and Meth | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

There are not many known physical symptoms associated with sex addiction. Symptoms primarily include the development of sexual dysfunction or the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases and the symptoms that manifest with them. Unwanted pregnancy is another possibility.

For example, government statistics show that about 38% of men and 45% of women who suffer from sex addiction have contracted a venereal disease as a result of their behavior. Also, nearly 70% who report having sex addiction say that, at some point, they had experienced at least one unplanned pregnancy as the result of their sexual behavior.

Sex addiction can also have an adverse impact on many areas of a person’s life. These include strained or broken interpersonal relationships and decreased ability to concentrate or perform at work or school.

It can also have a profound psychological impact, such as inducing feelings of shame, guilt, inadequacy, and emotional distress. It can lead to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and problems with obsessive or compulsive thoughts or behaviors.

In general, sex addicts, just like substance abusers, feel out of control regarding their addictive behaviors, and they are not wrong in feeling that way. Addiction, regardless of its form, is considered to be a disease by most experts, or at the very least, a serious condition that may be characterized by periods of relapse. In any case, any addiction is best treated using comprehensive long-term care and support.

Getting Help for Meth and Sex Addiction

Meth and sex addiction are two probably that feed into each other, and it may be more difficult for a person who experiences them both than others who only have one addiction. That said, recovery from meth and reclaiming a healthy sex life are entirely possible. But, the first step is to seek help.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness center offers an integrated approach to the treatment of substance abuse and process addictions. This means that we treat both problems simultaneously to reduce the risk of relapse. We also address other co-occurring mental health disorders that underpin addictions and teach people how to use healthier coping mechanisms to manage emotional distress better.

If you or someone you love is a sex addict who is abusing meth, contact us today! We are committed to ensuring our clients are given all the tools and support they need to sustain long-lasting sobriety, health, and well-being!

Injecting Meth

Slamming Meth | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Injecting Meth – Methamphetamine (meth) is a highly addictive stimulant that boosts activity in the central nervous system (CNS), resulting in accelerated breathing, increased body temperature, and elevated heart rate. Meth is most often abused for its euphoric effects and ability to increase energy and alertness and suppress appetite. However, it is also notorious for provoking severe and debilitating effects on the physical health and well-being of users, as well as adversely impacting the lives of those close to them.

Meth can be administered by oral consumption, smoking, snorting, or injecting. Injecting meth is also commonly known as “slamming” or “shooting.” No means of ingestion is ever safe, but injecting poses risks that may be more serious than others. For one, slamming meth can rapidly contribute to the development of addiction because of the intensity in which the resulting effects are experienced.

Effects of Injecting Meth

Injecting causes meth to enter the brain rapidly, and induces an intense “rush” or sense of euphoria. This effect only continues for a few minutes, however, so the user will soon need to inject more of the drug to resume experiencing the desired effects. This is why meth is frequently used in a binge-style pattern, as the user repeatedly injects over a short period in an attempt to maintain the high.

Binging is eventually followed by a phase called “tweaking,” which can persist for several days, and then a “crash.” During this time, people may neglect normal daily functions and responsibilities (e.g., personal hygiene) in favor of meth abuse.

The euphoria experienced by a meth user is caused by a rapid release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved with feelings of pleasure and reward that positively reinforce drug-using behaviors. During the early stages of a high, the user experiences the characteristic, sought-after stimulant effects, including exhilaration and energy, as well as a flurry of thoughts and rapid speech. The person may also exhibit an increase in impulsive behavior and a hyperactive sex drive.

In the later stages, the user may encounter restlessness, nervousness, paranoia, and psychosis. Cravings for more meth are likely to manifest in the later phase, as well as a depressed mood and severe fatigue.

Dangers of Slamming Meth

Slamming meth can lead to many serious health problems. These are associated with both the use of the drug and the usual method of administration. Below are some complications that may result from injecting meth:

  • Track lines
  • Puncture marks
  • Skin sores, abscesses, and infections
  • Collapsed veins

Users who inject meth also face a heightened risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis B and C, and tuberculosis.The risk of contracting HIV is higher due to both the sharing of needles and engaging in risky sexual behavior, which is common for those who use meth due to a hyperactive sex drive.

Injecting Meth | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

The following are additional harmful effects related to meth abuse, regardless of the means of administration:

  • Violent behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Mood disturbances
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Malnutrition
  • Weight loss
  • Poor motor function
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart attack and stroke

Chemical Imbalances and Brain Damage

Over time, shooting meth alters the user’s brain chemistry significantly. Prolonged use contributes to tolerance, which is characterized by the person’s need to use increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the desired high (repeated exposure = diminished response).

As the brain grows accustomed to the continued presence of meth, it also becomes unable to function normally without it—a condition referred to as dependence. Once a person has become dependent on meth, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of use, such as extreme cravings, depression, and sleep disturbances.

As noted, meth has a significant impact on the dopaminergic system in the brain. Using meth results in a surge of dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for the euphoric feelings associated with its use. Repeated meth use can have neurotoxic effects because the drug destroys dopaminergic neurons, which then result in reduced levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain.

Addiction and Treatment

Meth addiction is a devastating disease that will eventually destroy the mind and body of those who use it and profoundly impact those who love them. People who are addicted to meth are urged to seek help immediately before circumstances deteriorate further and lead to irreversible impairments or death.

Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers integrated, evidence-based treatment in both partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient formats. All of our programs include services vital to the recovery process, such as psychotherapy, psychoeducation, individual, group, and family counseling, group support, and more.

Our knowledgeable addiction professionals administer care to our clients with care and expertise. We provide our clients with the tools and support they need to recover and begin to experience long-lasting wellness and sobriety.

Please contact us as soon as possible if you are ready to reclaim your life free of drugs or alcohol! We can help!

What Are the Effects of Smoking Meth?

Smoking Meth | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Methamphetamine (meth) is an extraordinarily addictive and potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that can induce intense euphoria, suppress appetite, and increase energy and attention span. It is typically encountered on the illegal drug market as a white and odorless crystal powder or white or bluish rock-like substance known as “crystal meth.”

It is frequently used in a “binge-and-crash” pattern in which the user takes the drug repeatedly to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Each time the stimulant is administered, the euphoria and other desired effects diminish, ending in a crash in which the user can no longer maintain the high.

Smoking meth routinely can lead to increased tolerance, chemical dependence, and addiction characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Repeated exposure to meth can cause pronounced changes in brain structure and functioning, which may impact cognition and emotions long-term. Other effects of meth use include skin sores, heart palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, and, in extreme cases, psychosis.

Side Effects of Meth Use

Chronic meth use can profoundly impact both the body and brain of the person using it. An addiction to meth can cause severe impairment in the user’s life, and adversely affect those around him or her as well. Physical consequences of meth use may include the following:

  • Motor skills impairment
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Malnutrition and weight loss
  • Heart attack, stroke, or seizures
  • Heart arrhythmia and palpitations
  • Increased risk of HIV and hepatitis B and C
  • Injuries due to impulsive behavior
  • Skin sores from compulsive picking

Abusing meth for a prolonged period can also result in adverse mental or emotional problems such as the following:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Violent behavior
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Memory impairments
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Tactile hallucinations

Even short term but repeated use of meth may increase the likelihood that a person will develop a physiological dependence. If a person abruptly stops smoking meth after developing a dependency, he or she may experience a litany of highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including the following:

  • Reduced heart rate
  • Increased appetite
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • The inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia)
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Slow movements and thoughts
  • Nightmares and insomnia

Smoking Meth | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

The Risks of Smoking Meth

When meth is smoked, it is heated then inhaled through a pipe. There are several adverse health consequences directly associated with smoking meth. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) states that you are more likely to develop a meth addiction if it is smoked rather than if it is used in other forms.

This is related to the speed in which meth reaches the brain when smoked, inducing a rush of intense pleasure nearly immediately. This rapid method of delivery can also increase adverse health effects related to drug use.

Another outcome particular to smoking meth is dental deterioration, commonly known as “meth mouth.” This condition is marked by mouth sores, gum disease, and tooth decay. These dental issues are typically a result of repeated grinding of teeth when intoxicated, in addition to inadequate dental hygiene and poor eating habits.

Additionally, recent studies on mice have suggested that inhaling meth increases the chances of pulmonary damage and contracting an infection of the lungs. Although studies haven’t been conducted using humans, this preliminary research reveals the potentially toxic properties of smoking meth.

Meth Abuse Treatment Options

There are many different effective treatment options available for those suffering from an addiction to meth. Harmony Treatment and Wellness offers personalized, comprehensive treatment in partial hospitalization, outpatient, and intensive outpatient treatment formats.

We employ highly-skilled addiction specialists who are trained to deliver therapeutic, evidence-based services to clients with care and expertise. All of our programs include treatments vital to the recovery process, and include, but are not limited to the following:

Group counseling—A mental health professional facilitates a therapy session that focuses on the development of sober social skills and uses coping strategies in a peer group environment.

Individual therapy—Patients visit with a therapist one-on-one to address the underlying issues that contribute to meth use. Patients also learn how to develop healthier coping skills that can be used in stressful situations or to counteract relapse triggers.

12-step programs—Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous provides members with the support and encouragement they need as they work through the steps necessary to facilitate recovery. These programs are free to join, and the only requirement is that members seek to live a substance-free life. Regardless of which program you choose, we can provide you with the tools, resources, and support you need to experience a full recovery, prevent relapse, and enjoy long-lasting wellness and sobriety.

If you or someone you love is abusing meth or other drugs or alcohol, please contact us today to discuss treatment options. We can show you how to begin your journey to recovery and help you every step of the way!

Signs of Meth Addiction

Signs of Meth Addiction | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Meth addiction is among the most prevalent drug abuse menaces in America. It has led to the overdoses of thousands, has ravaged communities in all regions of the U.S., and has contributed to a significant increase in criminal activity.

Illicit meth production process, usually undertaken in dangerous, uncontrolled, and unsanitary clandestine labs, has created public health concern across the entire U.S. Families and loved ones of suspected drug abusers are encouraged to watch for the physical and behavioral signs of meth addiction, which may include the following:

  • Significant weight loss
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Decaying teeth and gums, also known as “meth mouth”
  • Obsessive and possibly psychotic behavior
  • Extreme fluctuations in energy levels
  • Secretive and paranoid behavior

How Meth Impacts the Brain and Body

Meth use, whether prescription or illicit, can cause severe mental and physical health complications in both short-term and long-term meth users. Meth abuse hijacks a person’s entire life, while adversely affecting their physical appearance and causing brain damage that may be irreversible.

The effect of meth that is appealing to users is the immediate rush of pleasure, followed by prolonged feelings of boundless energy and euphoria. It also provides users with a sense of confidence, alertness, and focus. While many drugs and enjoyable activities release dopamine in the brain, the amount released when using meth is unmatched and produces a high that can last as long as 12 hours.

Each use of meth, however, generates a less intense high than the previous one, driving users to take more. When the desired effects wear off, users may encounter extreme depression or hopelessness and feel the need to take more to avoid the impending “crash.”

Extended meth abuse alters the brain chemistry of users, damaging the brain’s pleasure center and making it very difficult to experience any pleasure aside from meth use. Research has shown that this process can sometimes be reversed after use has been discontinued. Sadly, however, a complete restoration of tissue and function is unlikely, and any loss of cognitive capabilities may be irreversible.


Another sign of meth addiction is hyperactive, obsessive, impulsive, and even aggressive and violent behavior. Meth is a stimulant that prompts the brain to produce high doses of adrenaline, thereby also creating anxiety and highly-focused attention. This state is also known as tweaking, and psychotic behavior, paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, and aggression are associated with excessive and chronic use.

Tweaking is a physical and psychological condition that may occur following a binge, in which a person dependent on meth is no longer able to experience a high. During this time, the person will have intense cravings and a desperation to get high that can no longer be sated. It is at this point that the aforementioned psychotic symptoms can manifest.

During tweaking, some users also hallucinate the sensation of insects crawling under their skin, a strange condition known as formication. People who are suffering from formication often pick at their skin obsessively, causing sores to form.

Signs of Meth Addiction | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

Meth Makes Users Less Attractive

Meth abuse destroys blood vessels and tissue and limits the body’s ability to heal itself. Blood flow throughout the body is constricted and eventually cut off. Also, because meth use instills users with a high amount of energy and suppresses appetite, subsequent profound and unhealthy weight loss can make meth users look gaunt, sickly, and frail.

People who use meth for an extended period may appear many years or even decades older than they really are. Tooth grinding (bruxism) combined with dry mouth, poor hygiene, and insufficient diet makes circumstances worse, with users having mouths riddled with discolored, broken, and rotting teeth.

Sex Drive Increases as Inhibitions Decrease

An increased sex drive combined with impaired judgment places many meth abusers at high risk for engaging in impulsive sexual encounters. Meth is also considered an aphrodisiac. The excessive release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters heightens sexual desire and boosts adrenaline and stamina.

During this time, the brain’s feel-good chemicals are at work prompting users to take part in behaviors they likely would not engage in while sober, including unprotected sex and having intercourse with multiple partners. This behavior is especially dangerous because it’s relatively common for meth users who inject to share needles, which can facilitate the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, such as hepatitis or HIV.

Getting Help for Meth Addiction

Meth abuse and addiction are devastating conditions that adversely affect the health and well-being of those suffering, as well as profoundly impact the lives of those around them. Fortunately, meth addiction is treatable, and through the use of an integrated approach to substance abuse, former meth users can achieve sobriety and restore mental and physical wellness to their lives.

If you or someone you love has developed an addiction to meth, please contact Harmony Treatment and Wellness as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. We are waiting to help you recover from addiction and reclaim the joyful and fulfilling life you deserve!