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Meth Warning Issued Within Gay Community

This past week, we happened to run across an alarming headline on The New York Times website. It was titled “Gay Men Are Dying From A Crisis We’re Not Talking About” and, as you might suspect from our headline, that crisis is meth addiction. Written by openly gay author Jim Mangia, it portrays a world not many people know about. A world in which crystal methamphetamine is easily accessible and often abused.

Mangia describes the current state of gay meth abuse as a full-blown crisis, adding that it is often kept hidden by elected officials. Now we all know that meth is extremely addictive and carries a high risk of overdosing, but the Times’ statistics point to a much higher dependency rate amongst gay men vs. straight.

Mangia has his own theories for this. He believes that living in a world where you’re often unaccepted can be difficult. There are also bullying issues to deal with and, many times, rejection from family members. In these many scenarios, drug abuse is thought of as a common coping mechanism.

Hookup party apps like Grindr, Mangia hypothesizes, accentuate this even more and can make meth more available. There are reportedly code words used when seeking it out on an app like this, such as “T” or “Tina.”

Mangia also shared a firsthand experience of a friend who got hooked, outlining the psychology behind the addiction.

“My best friend was rejected by his family for being gay and was beaten in the streets of his hometown in Mexico,” he wrote. “He had to flee to the United States for refuge. As he grew older, he became more and more desperate to belong to a community. He sought out men on gay apps, and he ended up falling for a handsome young man who was addicted to meth. The young man fostered my friend’s addiction. The initial drug use was about acceptance and remaining relevant in an overly sexualized culture. Now, despite recent interventions by me and other people, my friend is overcome by the daily ritual of obtaining and using crystal meth. He’s a different person than the one I had known for over 25 years.”

Mangia goes on to call out the slippery slope that often accompanies heavy meth use within the gay community, including H.I.V risks and sexually transmitted diseases. He ends his piece with a powerful call to action for local leaders.

“Elected officials, gay leaders, health care centers and community centers must develop funding and programming to respond to this crisis,” Mangia concluded. “Countless gay men suffer from this crippling addiction — and we cannot lose even more of our family members. It’s time to talk openly about the crisis so we can organize the will and the resources we need to address it.”