Please note-

*Please note- Your browser preferences must be set to 'allow 3rd party cookies' in order to comment in our diaries.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Meth to the Madness :: End of the Tunnel

By Shaun Knittel -

At the end of the tunnel...overcoming Meth.
At the end of the tunnel...overcoming Meth.  
The dangers of Crystal Meth have not gone unnoticed to a majority of the club scene. In the late 90’s the rise of recreational drugs led to finding the happier and hipper hit of the moment-the one that would get you through the night and treat you well with a lively trick. The quick fix lead to a rise in STDs within our community, and further spread HIV which had all but become a controlled agent for most of the population, especially within the gay community.

But when the call of the wild is too great and one fall’s victim to the terrible addiction of drugs, the consequences can be severe. Have we yet to learn our lessons?

Drug consolers like Arnold Martin, program coordinator, Project NEON, say that the easy access to the drug coupled with how cheap it sales for (as little as $20 for a "quarter," one-fourth of a gram, the usual minimum purchase amount) is also a driving force behind the wave of addiction among gay club-goers. "For the most part, people know crystal is bad news," he said. "But people still talk about it with a glamorization."

"What is alarming to me is that we are seeing more and more that younger people are becoming addicted faster than what used to be," explained Martin. "Typically, in the past, people in recovery would report that they first began to snort the drug, then smoke it, and if and when they do, would inject it. We are now hearing young gay men say they are injecting quicker than ever before. That is devastating. The drugs enter your system faster and can do much more harm to your body. Because the drug is illicit, you cannot control what is in it. These young men have no idea what they are injecting into their system."

Taking the first steps...  

A Moment Of Clarity

A few years ago Jordan Duran, 26, was not himself. In fact, looking at the healthy and strikingly handsome man sitting before me, it is hard to imagine that he once abused crystal so much that a doctor told him, "If you continue to use, you will die."

Now, sober and gainfully employed, Jordan can reflect on those dark days with the clarity that only someone in recovery can. "I was afraid of death," he said of making the decision to "get clean." "I knew that life wasn’t supposed to be this sad. I knew that life was supposed to be better than this."

Jordan is well put-together; he speaks clearly and is quite professional in his demeanor. In other words, he is a success story. And a good one at that. He currently works at Gay City Health Project, a Seattle-based multicultural gay men’s health organization and the leading provider of HIV and STD testing in King County.

Jordan’s trip down the rabbit hole began after he graduated high school. He had already came out as gay when he was a senior, had strained relationships at home, saw a therapist specializing in reverse homosexuality, and moved in with an older man in Seattle who introduced him to the standard party drugs: ecstacy, ketamine, GHB, and his drug of choice - crystal.

The drug hooked Jordan immediately. "I was able to escape from who I was," he recalls, "the drug has the ability to numb out the emotions that you feel about yourself and diminish any inhibitions or values that you have."

Meth became a lifestyle.  

Hard Lesson

Drug use gave way to abuse when he learned he was HIV positive in 2004. "Meth and sex go hand in hand," he said. "As gay men we find a lot of our identity with who we have sex with. I gauged a lot of my self-esteem and self-worth on how men responded to me physically in those days. Getting high and getting those reactions were part of the addiction."

After Jordan tested positive, he began using crystal more frequently. By the time he was 23, he says he was using 20 times every day and ultimately ended up on the street. In addition to unsafe sex, he wasn’t caring for himself and had frequent outbreaks of staph and MRSA.

Somewhere along the way Jordan acquired syphilis, which he didn’t seek medical attention for leading to bouts of disorientation.

He fell in with a crowd of users that didn’t question his behavior. Jordan says that when you use the drug at the frequency and amount that he was, you seek out like-minded friends. "We would post up at someone’s house," he explained, "and we would do drugs with each other."

In that circle of users, he says he didn’t have to worry about being judged. "Crystal use was our lifestyle," he said, "being a daily user I wasn’t interested in behavior modification. Let’s just say we were good at what we did."

When Jordan finally went to the doctor and was told - in not so many words - quit or die, he decided to quit.


Finding Hope

For Jordan, quitting the drugs wasn’t the hard part. Feeling his emotions was the hard part. He has been sober for 2 ½ years.

"For the longest time I would blame my drug use on things that were outside of myself," he admits. "I used to say, ’If you grew up the way that I grew up you would use too.’ But I learned that I used because I was addicted. I used because I am a meth addict."

He said that people can help by having compassion for addicts. "There is a certain darkness around meth that people fall into and it’s hard to come out of," said Jordan. "The process from recovering from crystal is possible. There is always hope."

Jordan is proof of the possibility of change and recovery.

Drug counselors like Project NEON’s Martin say that Jordan’s story is one of hope but that, with crystal meth recovery, is it ultimately up to the individual. "Some relapse," says Martin. "It can be a very hard drug to get clean from. Some people come in having been clean many, many times. We know this and practice harm reduction, which basically says that any step towards healthier living is a positive one."

Martin says the he has no compassion for the drug, but like Jordan, has empathy for the people who are affected by it.

"Everyone is impacted by it," states Martin. "It is a devastating drug. The nature of the drug can put people in very bad health - physically and financially - and is specifically unique in within the gay self-esteem issue. I feel disheartened that this drug is the siren call and we are the unfortunate sailors on the gay sea."

For more on Project NEON and the services it provides, and if you or someone you know is battling with addiction to Crystal Meth or any other drug addiction please visit them online at
Shaun Knittel is an openly gay journalist and public affairs specialist living in Seattle. His work as a photographer, columnist, and reporter has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition to writing for EDGE, Knittel is the current Associate Editor for Seattle Gay News. 

No comments:

Post a Comment