A look at why meth has proven so seductive among the gay community and what’s to be done about it.
I met David Fawcett, PhD, LCSW, several years ago at a conference where he was presenting at a workshop on gay men, HIV, and methamphetamine use. His presentation was both compelling and eye-opening, and I was interested to hear he was working on a book. Well, it’s finally been published, and I’m pleased to report that it does not disappoint.
Lust, Men and Meth: A Gay Man’s Guide to Sex and Recovery bills itself as: “A guide for gay men struggling with the issues of sex and recovery and for the professionals that work with them,” but anyone could benefit from learning more about this persistent problem.
The book is separated into three parts: “The Perfect Storm” explores how culture helps makes gay men prone to meth addiction. “Exploring the Sexual Universe” examines how meth can actively change gay men’s way of experiencing and thinking about sex, which can lead to risky behavior and ultimately to HIV infection. “Restoring Your Life” discusses how gay men can prepare for life after meth by laying out essential tools for a strong recovery.
Along the way, readers learn some fascinating information about exactly how powerful meth is. You may know that dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Fawcett points out that food consumption creates a release of about 150 units of dopamine, while sex (without meth) releases about 200. Highly addictive substances produce even more dopamine — with nicotine stimulating the release of 250 units and cocaine releasing about 350. By comparison, methamphetamine overwhelms the brain’s ability to process it, releasing a torrent of nearly 1,100 units of dopamine.
This huge, artificial boost in good feelings leads people to make decisions detrimental to their physical or mental health, and it’s clear why those who’ve had sex on meth continue to do so, no matter how destructive it is. The effect is that among gay men who use meth, HIV infection rates soar.
Meth is still a large problem in our community, so this book is an important read — whether or not your life has been touched by the drug yet. Its information can be used by those actively struggling with the issue, by people who want to better understand friends and acquaintances who are, and by clinicians who help gay men as part of their work. Visit david-fawcett.com to get your copy and learn more.
Last modified: November 21, 2019