Crystal Meth is known to contribute to unprotected sex between men who have sex with men, but these men may not actually be barebackers who choose to have bareback sex. Crystal Meth has the ability to impair judgment, which can lead to people doing things they wouldn’t normally do if they were not under the influence of this highly addictive drug. There is a difference between those who choose to have bareback sex and those who subject themselves to unprotected sex.
This article will refer to bareback sex as being sex without the use of a condom between men who have made a choice not to use a condom when having anal sex. When the term unprotected sex is used, this is a reference to men who do not use a condom when having anal sex, but the difference is that they may not have chosen to forgo using condoms. The result is the same; men engaging in anal sex without the use of condoms, but it’s the way in which lead to the condom-free encounter which is where the difference lies. Some barebackers use Crystal Meth with the intention of having bareback sex, which is known as Party and Play (PNP), but this article will focus on those who do not regard themselves as barebackers.
Crystal Meth is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It’s a white or off-white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water. Methamphetamine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States and is available with a prescription for a number of medical issues including obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, however, Crystal Meth is most commonly known as a street drug. Crystal Meth is the shortened name of Crystal Methamphetamine and is commonly known as Crystal, Ice, Meth, Speed or Tina. There are many street names for Crystal Meth including: Batu, Biker’s Coffee, Black Beauties, Blade, Chalk, Chicken Feed, Crank, Cristy, Crystal, Crystal Glass, Crystal Meth, Glass, Go-Fast, Hanyak, Hiropon, Hot Ice, Ice, Kaksonjae, L.A. Glass, L.A. Ice, Meth, Methlies Quick, Poor Man’s Cocaine, Quartz, Shabu, Shards, Speed, Stove Top, Super Ice, Tina, Trash, Tweak, Uppers, Ventana, Vidrio, Yaba and Yellow Bam.
The most common way people use Crystal Meth is by smoking it through a glass pipe, similarly to how crack cocaine is used. Other ways to use Crystal Meth include injecting it either dry or dissolved in water, snorting it, swallowing it or inserting it into the anus or urethra. Some people take Crystal Meth because it provides a long-lasting high, where numerous neurotransmitters are released in the brain, which produces a sense of euphoria that can last as long as twelve hours, depending on how the drug was taken. Methamphetamine is also a popular stimulant which improves concentration, energy and alertness while decreasing appetite and fatigue. Some people may also take Crystal Meth to increase libido and sexual pleasure.
There are many common effects by taking Crystal Meth including euphoria, increased energy, increased alertness, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive sweating, loss of appetite, insomnia, tremors, jaw-clenching, agitation, irritability, violence, confusion, increased libido, increased blood pressure, increased body temperature, increased heart rate, increased blood sugar levels and constriction of the walls of the arteries. Some of the effects associated with chronic use of Crystal Meth include an increase in the amount of the drug needed to get the same effect, drug craving, temporary weight loss, erectile dysfunction, depression, rapid teeth decay, teeth falling out and drug-related psychosis. There are serious effects of overdose including brain damage, sensation of flesh crawling, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, tension headache, muscle breakdown which can lead to kidney damage or failure or death due to stroke, cardiac arrest or elevated body temperature.
According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 12.6 million Americans aged 12 or older reported using methamphetamine at least once during their lifetimes, representing 5% of the population aged 12 or older. Approximately 850,000 (0.3%) reported past year methamphetamine use and 314,000 (0.1%) reported past month methamphetamine use. The number of recent new users of methamphetamine among persons aged 12 or older was 95,000 in 2008. The average age of new methamphetamine users aged 12 to 49 in 2008 was 19.2 years. Of an estimated 113 million emergency department (ED) visits in the U.S. during 2006, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) estimates that 1,742,887 were drug-related and DAWN data indicates that methamphetamine was involved in 79,924 ED visits.
There is an association between Crystal Meth and sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) because of the tendency of many people to engage in unprotected sex while under the influence of Crystal Meth. Many people who experience the effects of euphoria tend not to use condoms and they can engage in unprotected sex with many different sex partners. When people take Crystal Meth in clubs and other public places where a number of other gay or bisexual men frequent, there is the likelihood that the multiple sex partners may be unknown individuals. When anonymous encounters or casual sex takes place while a person is under the influence of the effects of Crystal Meth, there is a chance that a discussion about condoms or sexual health does not even take place.
There are other reasons why sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) can take place while a person is under the influence of Crystal Meth. Users experience an increased libido and sexual pleasure and have sex for extended periods of time, along with an inability to ejaculate or reach orgasm. Because of the need for sex and the inability to ejaculate, the sex can be rough, resulting in chafing, tearing and trauma to the rectum, mouth and penis, dramatically increasing the risk of infection transmission. Even if guys do choose to use condoms, there is a chance of condom breakage due to rough sex, extended periods of friction or lack of lubricant when using the condoms.
This article focuses on unprotected sex when using Crystal Meth, but please be aware that Crystal Meth users can also become infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and hepatitis B or hepatitis C when sharing needles. Those who are HIV positive can also experience problems when using Crystal Meth, because the effects of the drug can include people staying awake for days at a time. This means that there can be a lapse in taking HIV medications and because the body needs sleep and rest, the immune system can become rundown and exhausted, so this can take a toll on the health of a person. There are also other serious issues which can result from Crystal Meth for HIV positive individuals.
If you happen to take Crystal Meth and then have unprotected sex unintentionally, you could potentially subject yourself to a number of different sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). There is a chance that one of these STI’s could be Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), however, once you become aware of the fact that you may have engaged in unprotected sex, there is a regime of medication you can take called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) which needs to be commenced within seventy-two hours of possible exposure to help reduce the likelihood of contracting HIV, but there is still a chance that the infection could take hold. In the event of you being in this situation, it’s important to visit a Sexual Health Clinic or a medical professional (including your local hospital) as soon as possible, as time is a very important factor when it comes to the effectiveness of PEP.
If you are addicted to Crystal Meth or if you know someone who is and you want to get help for yourself or someone else, it’s important to know that help is available in the community. There is an organization known as Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA), which is a fellowship of men and women who share their experiences, strengths and hopes with each other and includes a Twelve Step program of recovery. The website features a meeting directory for Australia, Canada and the United States, but if you are from another location, there may be help available for you and an internet search engine may point you in the direction of a service close to you. It’s important to know that you are not alone and that there are a number of services available to assist anyone who wants to stop using Crystal Meth.
Thank you to Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. and the About.com chemistry section for the article Crystal Meth Facts which was used to assist with the development of certain parts of this article, particularly information relating to the use and the effects of Crystal Meth.
- 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
- Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA)
- Crystal Meth Facts