Myths and Realities of Gay Meth Use

There has been a lot of concern in the addiction research field about the so-called epidemic of gay meth use. Some gay and bisexual (GB) men may even be feeling peer pressure to use meth and to "party and play," to be part of the LGBT scene. But research tells a different story — it turns out that meth use is not necessarily part of a LGBT lifestyle. In fact, only a minority of gay and bisexual men use meth.


Myth: All Gay and Bisexual Men Take Meth

Gay Male Couple Holding Hands

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Reality: Although gay and bisexual men are more likely to use meth than the general population, most GB men don't use the drug. The exact prevalence of meth use depends on the population being studied.

In a study of 595 younger GB men across eight U.S. cities, 11.0% of men reported using methamphetamines in the 90 days prior to the study. An Australian study found a similar prevalence rate of 9.7%. In other countries, the rates of meth-using GB men can be even lower. In the UK, the prevalence of meth use among gay and bisexual men is about 4.7%.

Although some communities have higher prevalence rates, on a national scale, the vast majority of gay and bisexual men (around 85-95%) do not use meth.


Myth: Meth Is the Drug of Choice Among Gay and Bisexual Men

Reality: Studies show that among gay and bisexual men, the use of many other drugs surpasses that of meth. For example, in a UK study of GB men with HIV, 20% use cocaine, and 21% use cannabis, compared to only 8% of the sample who use meth.

Research also shows that most GB men attending parties where meth is available neither intend to take the drug nor feel pressure to do so.


Myth: Meth Is the Drug Most Associated With Unprotected Anal Sex

Reality: There are many drugs that are associated with high-risk behaviors, such as unprotected anal sex. These include alcohol, cannabis, poppers, cocaine, amphetamines, and Viagra, as well as meth. Steering clear of all of these drugs is an important part of staying safe from HIV and hepatitis infection.

If you need to use drugs to enjoy anal sex, perhaps you should ask yourself whether you are really comfortable with this activity at all — it isn't compulsory!


Myth: Meth Makes Gay Sex More Enjoyable

Reality: While getting high on meth has been reported to be associated with extended and enhanced sex marathons, meth can also cause impotence, and for some men, ruins the sexual experience when not on meth.

In fact, the effects of meth are extremely unpredictable, and they may not put you in the mood for sex at all.

And the detrimental effects that meth has on people's appearance and mental functioning take its toll on your attractiveness. Unfortunately, meth users in recovery report that these negative changes to their appearance are often not perceived by meth users themselves at the time they are using.


Myth: Meth Makes You Feel Better About Being a Gay or Bisexual Man

Reality: Like many drugs that produce temporary euphoria and distort your perception of reality, meth can provide a brief vacation from the emotional difficulties associated with being gay in a heterosexist culture, particularly for GB men who have not come to terms with their sexuality. But once the drug wears off, you can feel worse than ever.

The crash experienced after you come down, added to the stigma of drug use, and unresolved feelings about being gay or bisexual can all lead you to feel worse than you did before taking the drug.

Counseling is a much more effective way of coming to terms with your identity.

Ignore Peer Pressure to Use Meth

Although a minority of gay and bisexual men use meth, even in places where it is more common, most GB men don't use meth. Overall, meth is likely to make you feel worse, not better. Ignore pressure to use this dangerous drug, knowing that if you are told it is something all gay and bisexual men are doing, you are hearing a myth.

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