Prevention Chemsex: Sexualised Substance Use Crystal Meth

Crystal Meth

AKA: crystal, Tina, T, methamphetamine or meth (not to be confused with meph – mephedrone). 

Crystal meth is a super-strength amphetamine stimulant. Industrial chemicals and cleaning products which can be toxic often go into making it.

Used in chillouts, sex parties and during sex or clubbing, crystal releases the brain’s stress hormone norepinephrine and ‘feel good’ chemicals dopamine and serotonin.

Meth comes as white or colourless crystals which can be crushed to make a powder. It can also come as a pill.

How it’s used

Meth in its crystalline form can be smoked through a glass pipe.

Crystal as a powder is usually snorted, but can be mixed with water and injected. It can also be injected up the arse with a syringe with the needle taken off – this is known as a ‘booty bump’.

Using meth is called ‘tweaking’ and injecting it is called ‘slamming’.

Highs and lows of crystal meth

Meth is used for energy during non-stop sex or dancing sessions. It can make users feel high, euphoric, wide awake, self-confident, invincible, impulsive, less likely to feel pain and very horny with fewer inhibitions.

Crystal increases body temperature, heart beat and blood pressure – possibly to dangerous levels – increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, coma or death.

Users may go for days without eating or sleeping because crystal meth suppresses the appetite and keeps them wide awake.

The comedown can leave people feeling exhausted, aggressive and paranoid, in some cases even suicidal. They can also develop stomach problems such as acid reflux or gastritis due to not eating for a long period of time. Many users develop bad teeth and gum problems due to their regular use of Crystal and their disinterest in their personal hygiene. Dehydration is also a common problem, as using ‘Tina’ masks feelings of thirst and hunger.

Depending on how Crystal is taken, it might also damage the lungs, nose and mouth.

The drug’s bad reputation is warranted by the many casualties it’s caused on the gay scene around the world, although not everybody who uses it develops problems. As with any drug use there is problematic and non-problematic usage, with some users being able to control their consumption and some not. It’s also thought that the risks of dependency on Crystal may be linked to the way that it’s been taken.

Sex on crystal meth

Crystal can make the user feel very horny, even sexually compulsive with a stamina during sex not felt when not using the drug. It can also stop them cumming or even getting a hard-on in the first place. Being on crystal for some guys means they take sexual risks that they normally wouldn’t.

Long or rough crystal-fuelled sex sessions can cause a sore or bleeding arse, dick and mouth. These might not be noticed at the time but they mean that there’s more risk of HIV, hepatitis C and other STIs being passed on.

Condoms are more likely to break after about half an hour of fucking. During long sex sessions on crystal, use plenty of silicon or water-based lube, check the condom remains intact and put a fresh one on after 30 minutes.

Sex on crystal has been described by regular users of the drug as ‘the best sex in the world’, ‘intense’ but also as cold, aggressive or disconnected.

A long-term relationship?

Tolerance to crystal meth builds up quickly and users need to take more to get the same high. The drug has a reputation for being quickly addictive, especially when ‘slammed’ or ‘booty bumped’.

Even hardened gay scene party animals who can control their use of other drugs have found themselves out of their depth with crystal. It can become hard to think of having sex without being on meth and – like G and mephedrone – it can have a big impact on peoples ability to have sex sober.

People who were addicted and are now sober say that it is hard to deal with sex afterwards, often for many years. Problematic use of Crystal can cause severe negative effects, including job loss, financial problems and health issues including psychosis or lasting mental health problems, even after quitting the drug.

Quitting problematic use of Crystal can be very hard. Its effects on the brain can last long after giving the drug up, but users can turn this relationship around.

Tips to share with users about consuming meth

  • Consume only when they feel comfortable and it’s best done when someone you trust is with you and who knows about your (mixed) consumption and could get help in an emergency.
  • You can’t always tell with the naked eye what drug that line in front of you is. If something is offered to you, ask what that substance is.
  • Think about how long you want to stay awake. Do not take anymore when the party is over or you want to go home. It’s not good to be exhausted and unable to sleep.
  • Using Crystal leads to increased facial motor skills in many users (teeth grinding). Chewing gum can help to protect teeth, gums and cheeks, but this does not help against developing sore muscles in your face from the chewing. Some users recommend magnesium and calcium for muscle relaxation.
  • Take rest breaks during your drug ‘bumps’ to avoid overheating and over-exertion. When dancing in the club, give yourself a little break and go out into the fresh air for a while.
  • Even if you feel fit and alert: do not drive a car under the influence of Crystal or perform other dangerous activities (such as operate heavy machinery for example) Do not underestimate how the drug can still be affecting you.
  • Using Crystal deprives your body of fluids, essential minerals and vitamins; therefore always drink enough water or vitamin-rich fruit juices. You can compensate for calcium deficiency by eating dairy products or beans. Vitamin and mineral drinks and tablets, as well as fruits, vegetables and nuts can be helpful during or after Crystal use in the short term.
  • Crystal is not a suitable diet. You can lose a lot of weight in a short time, but it’s in a very unhealthy way.
  • If you consume Crystal on a regular basis, your tolerance to the substance increases really quickly meaning your body builds a tolerance and you have to take more to get the same high. This will mean that the nutrient and power reserves in your body continue to decrease. Therefore its highly recommended to take longer breaks between uses of Crystal, and it’s really important to get sufficient sleep and a healthy diet.  It also helps you to take care of your personal hygiene (which can be lost over long weekends of partying) and it’s especially recommended to pay close attention to your teeth, gums and nose. A break of a couple of weeks between uses is recommended so that your body and mind can recover and regenerate sufficiently.

Crystal with other drugs

HIV drugs/PrEP

Protease inhibitors – especially ritonavir, but also some other drugs in this class – could cause a big, possibly fatal rise in levels of Crystal in the body. This is because ritonavir slows down the metabolisation of Crystal which leads to high levels of the drug in the bloodstream, making overdose more likely. If users are on these treatments it’s recommended to start with low doses of all chems, not only Crystal.

If someone is partying the weekend away on crystal, they are more likely to be late with their meds or miss them entirely, so it may be useful to set alarms on clocks and phones as reminders of when to take meds.

Crystal also damages the immune system, as does going without food or sleep when you’re on it.

Ecstasy, cocaine, poppers and Viagra-type drugs

All of these drugs put the heart under strain. If people are using crystal too they are pushing their heart even harder. Mixing those drugs can lead to:

  • sudden spikes in blood pressure
  • chest pains
  • heart attack
  • strokes.

Anti-depressants

Taking crystal while on antidepressants can make life-threatening reactions more likely, including dangerously high blood pressure and increased risk of serotonin syndrome (the levels of serotonin in your blood becoming too high). Users should check with their doctor before using antidepressants and crystal at the same time.

Useful information to know and share.

It’s recommended that users avoid injecting, as it’s the quickest way to getting addicted and runs the risk of serious health problems including skin abscesses, collapsed veins, blood poisoning and heart infections. There are other ways of using Crystal that are less problematic.

Sharing injecting equipment puts the user at a high risk of getting or passing on HIV, hepatitis C and other infections. Using hot pipes can injure the lips and lining of the mouth and if pipes are shared it risks passing on – through tiny amounts of blood – infections such as hepatitis C and HIV.

Next module: Mephedrone

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