crystal meth addiction
today’s post is full of allegory. after the recent passing of a friend. i have come to a sort of secret compartment in my life. i was talking about how strange it was to have known someone on both a professional (counselor to client) level and as a fellow community member and volunteer. this caused me to pause for a while and consider the hidden cost of being an addictions counselor working with lgbt persons with addictions (who may or may not be hiv positive).
it is a complete recurrence that gay men (hiv + and hiv -) will appear when they need support and then disappear when they no longer feel the need for support (for a variety of reasons). as a professional there is an ongoing and undisclosed cost of knowing and caring for a person and then having them leave your life just as quickly as they appeared. and my experience is that when the “gay” factor, and the “hiv +” factor are combined, i have found that the boundaries have been a bit less distinctive. i might have cared a little more, or offered a little more support. and of course the disappearance of these folks from my practice has consistently left a deeper impression. but after they leave the treatment cocoon, they enter back into the community arena along with me and the rest of our world. because these individuals and i have engaged in a therapeutic relationship, returning to a friendly relationship is strained at best. i know more about them than they probably would like to admit. they have shared secrets with me. if they did not complete, nor were successful with treatment, then this usually means they won’t want to see me in person, nor see themselves in my eyes. this is perfectly understandable- almost expected. but it does have a price tag- especially in a smaller community. it is not a deal breaker at all. it is simply that i haven’t really looked at my own real needs in all this.
until this week, i have not looked at my own feelings about this whole brief therapy process. with bryan’s passing, i now understand that it has had a price. i have assumed that my skills as a practitioner are lacking at times. i have felt that i am too blunt for people too early. i have even felt that i am too old at times and out of touch with current lgbt culture.
although all of these are probable and appropriate, i have never considered that i might need some support around the loss this process brings. i now know that i have just hunkered down, trudged forward, cut my losses and tucked those feelings without processing or examining them with any concern. i don’t regret this after realizing this, but i do want to make some changes from here forward. and because of my childhood history of relationship and loss, i have had auto-responses of shutting down when i have become saddened. i have let go of friends because i honestly haven’t figured out yet how to do anything else quite yet.
to be less vague, i now understand that i have a primal feeling that i am not okay, so i assume that these losses are the price i am required to pay for being me-(conversely, there are many benefits to being me as well so i don’t think this as simply dark and morose).
since my work has recently shifted away from cultural specific clients, i have gained some distance and some perspective on all this. this reminds me yet again that situations and experiences in our lives shape, form, and mold who we are. and all the relationships, fabulous jobs, exciting or relaxing vacations, spas, makeovers, workouts, and new clothes in the world won’t really make me any different. i am required to do the work, look at my life and my part in it, feel my feelings, accept them, understand them, and make room for change if needed. and change is probably needed in this case.
i am posting from a quiet place of gratitude today. i hope your holiday brings even a small portion of the grace i feel today. happy thanksgiving.
How did it happen? If I have asked myself that question once, I have asked it a thousand times, and I still don’t have the answer. By now you are probably asking yourself, how did WHAT happen? How did a reasonably intelligent, hard working guy like myself get hooked on drugs? More specifically, that nasty bitch we lovingly, at first, call Mz. Tina….
Oh, it started innocently at first when I stop and think back on it. Out for the weekend at a club and a friend says, here try this, it’s great you’ll feel like a million dollars and we can party on ALL night!!! And the sex is going to just be Fabulous…with a recommendation like that, I thought, I’d be a fool to not try it. At least once, I said.
I tried it, just a small “line” at first I mean its not like I was one of those “druggies”, or one of those low life homeless guys…I had a job and a car and a house. I wasn’t like them. That could never happen. Guess what? I DID feel like a million bucks and sex WAS fabulous…even sex with people I would not normally even speak to let alone have sex with!!! It just made me incredibly horny and sexual and I just felt like every one was my friend…there wasn’t always a cute guy around who was my type but with Mz. Tina around, I didn’t care…I’d just “snort” them pretty and go ahead and do the deed anyway…yes the standards definitely got lowered a bit…at first it was just once every couple of weeks or so…I was only partying on the weekends, Friday night and Saturday night. I had to work on Monday so I stopped partying Sunday so I was good to go on Monday morning. By this time Id been doing Mz. Tina for about 6 months, but only “recreationally”, meaning on weekends. I told myself it was okay because it was only 2 days a week and I did have a job and a car and a house…and it WAS the weekend I deserved to have some fun…
I managed to always get to work on Monday and get thru the week in good shape…. I soon found myself daydreaming and wishing that Friday would hurry up and get here…hey I was ready to have some more fun again, as so often happens with Mz. Tina, the weekends began to start on Thursday and end on Sun night…I started to show up at work looking like the wrath of God has been thrown at me. BUT I was still at work on Monday so how bad good it be I told myself…and I did have fun, I think, hmmmmm parts of the weekend are awfully fuzzy. I just did not always remember the whole weekend…I knew that Id had fun and id made some new friends…now if I could just remember what his name was. Did he give me his phone number? Did I give him mine?
I wrote it on a scrap of paper somewhere. Ill find it later. He liked me, I could tell…but what the hell did he look like? Did we have sex? Was it fun? Better yet, was it safe…?
No time to worry about it now Id tell myself…I’ll be better next weekend…..
quoted and reposted from tweaker.org
i was scrolling through an fb page for the club i used to manage back in the 80’s and savoring many of the songs that the dj/vj’s posted. bands like skinny puppy, nitzer ebb, front 242, and even rights of the accused. but then all the way at the bottom was a band i had nearly forgotten about- vicious pink.
ccccan’t you see was such a complete anthem in my eyes. it had so much of that quintessential crossover sound of that decade. and it opened up a floodgate of feelings and memories when i heard it.
at the same time i noticed that a friend was celebrating his birthday at the same time, so i posted it to him with a short and sweet (hopefully) note of good wishes.
i got back a quiet message which was a bit of a surprise. it was about his new relationship and how they have been slamming T a coupla times a week. Also detailed was how that part felt like it was getting outa hand and going south quickly. he wrote about shaking so much he doesn’t get a good hit, and maybe it’s a good day to say “done with it”. the note was finished with a tender bit about me being a safe place to drop a random note like this because i could understand after having been through what i’ve been through.
quite a birthday note eh? and it does lead me to consider where my life has led. he is correct- i do understand. i have honed my understanding to include never going back. it’s odd that i have about 3 or 4 really close friends (from those days) who all continue to engage in serious dance moves with getting high. for this one it’s iv crystal, for one it’s iv crystal and crack, for the 3rd its crack. they maintain (something i could never do) but i wonder if they grow. i know i feel my life has really opened up since throwing down the sword and walking away from the battle. and i also know i cannot live my friends lives.
there are not so many people left who hold my history in their hearts. it’s important for me to love them, albeit from a distance. too close would be toxic. perhaps for each of us.
when i was in a gala chorus in the 90’s here in colorado, i remember an introduction by one of the gala organizers describing lgbt people as those who said “yes” to pleasure in ways that others were afraid to do. that has resonated with me all these years and still does. there is a lot to be found in the idea that denied inclusion, acceptance, and visible demonstration for so long might just lead to a determination of having pleasure after the coming out process.
that day held some quiet and remarkable reminders about my life, my friends, my culture, and my journey. i numbed out for a minute after the note, but felt empathy almost immediately. i felt allegiance for the trust that was given me. i cannot help really other than hold good thoughts for my friend and the situation. it continues to be a twisted web we weave and it’s remarkable the challenges we traverse in the name of love.
it occurred to me today that i have spouted the phrase that is the title of this post so many times that my audiences certainly have grown weary of hearing. i wonder sometimes why i haven’t done the same. truth be told however, it is my truth that it seems i have been stepping through doorways of opportunity since i laid down the meth pipe and let go of the wine glass.
the reasons i do what i do sometimes reveal themselves to me quietly and unexpectedly. i received a copy of a letter to be read at the “reckoning” of an acquaintance. i am without much to say. i think the words speak for themselves.
the clinic where i work has been working with medication assisted therapy for quite some time. the most well known mat is antabuse for alcohol abuse/dependence. with the onset of meth and cocaine in the last 30 years and the advancement of pharmatech, the use of mat to address stimulant dependence is being looked at much more seriously.i have several clients that are currently using naltrexone to combat the cravings and the obsession for the next buzz. there are some mixed results certainly, but i believe that these studies are studies are still in their infancy. it is interesting to work with folk who are very protective of their systems when medications are involved, but behave as such raconteurs where smoking or injecting homemade speed is concerned.we have clients that are using starting to work with injections of vivitrol as well. this is a monthly shot that works on the same principles of naltrexone, but without having to take a pill every day. below is an article describing some of the science behind the meth-focused mat.
One of the most vexing drug dependencies is that of methamphetamine Known as “speed,” “crank”, “ice,” “gak” and “crystal”; methamphetamine has emerged as the street drug with the greatest potential for harm and the most stubborn resistance to treatment. Methamphetamine works on sensitive neurotransmitters that regulate the synthesis and release of dopamine and nor-epinehprine. The most powerful of human emotions and feelings are directed and controlled by the activity of these two monoamines. Methamphetamine use, especially when abused chronically, turns the regulatory systems for dopamine and nor-epinephrine upside down. The very powerful direct effects of the drugs use means that withdrawal from it will be equally ferocious and difficult; relapses and reoccurrences in use are common if not predestined. Developing the therapies and pharmaceutical agents that can combat methamphetamine addiction has been difficult and has resulted in only marginally effective results. The search for medications that can soften the withdrawal and mute intense cravings is never ending. Recently a drug that’s widely used to treat opiate and alcohol dependencies has been experimented with in treating methamphetamine-addicted patients, the results have been promising.
Characterised by – Greed; Insatiable cravings; Addictions.
“I want this, I need this, 1 have to have this”.
This is the realm of intense craving. The Hungry Ghosts are shown with enormous stomachs and tiny necks – they want to cat, but cannot swallow; when they try to drink. the liquid turns to fire, intensifying their thirst. The torture of the hungry ghost is not so much the frustration of not being able to get what he wants. rather it is his clinging to those things he mistakenly thinks will bring satisfaction and relief. The Buddha in this Realm holds a Bowl from which the ‘gifts of the gods’ are distributed. This is to entice the hungry ghosts to desire for the Truth which is the only way that the deepest longings and hungers can be satisfied.
Consider: ‘Gollum’ from Lord of the Rings; The obssessive nature of Video Games; Addictions of various sorts; We can be helped in this Realm by our willingness to ‘look up’, to see beyond our obssessions…… reposted from buddhamind
i went to a dinner hosted by the harm reduction action center in denver last night. the hrac work with injection drug users to reduce health risks and also inject human kindness into their worlds. the evening was also benefiting improbable pictures who have been filming the creation and development of u.s.e.d (underground syringe exchange denver) as needle exchange has been completely illegal in colorado until may of this year. btw, exchange has not been implemented anywhere in colorado to date, the only legalization was that local governments can now decide for themselves about appropriateness.
the keynote speaker was dr. gabor mate, a vancouver physician who has been working with idu (injection drug users) for 12 years and runs a residential program in that city. he recently wrote a book that i have previously written about briefly called “in a realm of hungry ghosts”. it refers to a buddhist concept of the 7 realms that we move through in life. the realm of hungry ghosts is depicted by a very thin dark creature who is always eating and never full. his perspective on addiction and causation and treatment. he blends 20 years of addiction science with a sense of common sense and simple human kindness to highlight a whole new direction of treatment which makes the assumption that the reason someone is over medicating is due to pain. and he maintains that instead of asking individuals “why the addiction”, we should ask the question “why the pain” and his experience demonstrates a completely different response. he frankly finds that all the female addicts he works with were sexually abused when they were young.
“why the pain” is a question that seems so simple, yet i don’t actually think there is an easy answer at all. i don’t mean that the response “my mother abandoned me” or ” my uncle molested me” or ” my father abused my mother during my childhood” are not simple. the words are simple. not more than 7 or 8 strung together at one time. no, the complications are not in the expression of the concrete aspects of theanswer. the challenges in the answer come forward in the manner in which the individual comes in the treatment door.the bio-psycho-social factors that have brought them this far. they have a lifetime of (not) coping skills that have been built up. a trauma that happens early in life (especially when repeated or endured over time) can cause a person to shut down so as to stop the emotional pain. it makes complete sense that these individuals would find external chemicals such as opiates or alcohol that help them feel (especially pleasure). what makes even more sound sense is that letting go of these compounds is not an easy task, especially since for most of them, they may connect to the only pleasure these individuals have felt for as long as they can remember. btw, they usually forget a lot of the pain that led them to addiction with good intention- survival.
for me, i look to the explosion of crystal meth use in the gay male population in the industrialized world in the last two decades, with the highest percentage being hiv positive. this reasoning brings clearly into focus an explanation of this madness. is it not common that gay men identify feeling love and intimacy through their sexual contact, and being hiv positive would directly inhibit this process. crystal meth no doubt allows men to circumvent this inhibition and refill their emotional coffers. but when the emotional coffers never feel full, happiness is elusive, and continues to be chased.
it’s a simple question… why are they doing meth? to feel better. to connect with ohters sexually, to feel loved. if sex is how we communicate- how else do they make this happen? the only way they have known to feel loved has been diminished and neutered?