If you’re concerned about your drug use or think it’s causing problems in your life, there’s help out there. Speak to someone about it or reach out online.
When might your use be considered ‘problematic’? Only you can answer that.
‘Some people find it very difficult to notice when it goes from recreational use to something more problematic,’ says Jamie Willis of leading London-based LGBT drugs charity Antidote. ‘When is that tipping point?’
‘For some people it’s missing days at work or college,’ says David Stuart, chemsex lead at 53 Dean Street. ‘For some people it’s when they realize “Oh my gosh, I haven’t had sober sex in a year”.’
‘When does it stop being fun?’ suggests Wilson
Maybe your friends have expressed concern for you?
Perhaps you’ve overdosed or your health is suffering?
Maybe you find that you want to take drugs increasingly often or keep upping your dosage? Have you passed out and believe someone assaulted you while you were unconscious?
Only you can decide when your drug use is problematic, and only when you do so are you likely to do something about it.
You’re not alone
One thing you can be sure about, you’re not alone. In a survey undertaken by GSN and Blued, completed by just over 1,000 men, 57% said they had turned up to work after having no sleep because of their drug use.
Forty-five per cent said they’d missed a day of work or college; 10% said they’d been to A&E/ER; 24% said they are or were addicted; 9% had been sexually assaulted; and 23% reported having a G overdose.
If you have problem with chemsex drugs, David Stuart has produced on an online resource to help you reduce or stop your drug use. It can be accessed by anyone in the world and is available in several languages at www.davidstuart.org/care-plan
Reach out to a local health service that might have some experience of helping LGBTI people with substance misuse problems. It can be dangerous to stop using certain drugs in one go and safer to receive medical assistance if addicted to drugs such as G or heroin.
Think about talking to your doctor or physician and asking for help.
Depending on where you are in the world, and if you’re looking to quit, 12-step recovery programs may be able to help. Narcotics Anonymous is a good place to start, but there are also specific recovery programs for certain drugs and other issues. Again, remember that it is safer to wean yourself off certain drugs with proper medical assistance.
Below are a handful of services, but this is an incomplete list and you may have to make enquiries local to where you live.
• In London, UK, 56 Dean Street offers chemsex support. There are advisors with whom you can have an informal chat to discuss your drug use and way forward.
• The Terrence Higgins Trust in the UK runs a service called Friday/Monday. It offers advice, support and services for gay men to break cycles around sex, drugs and alcohol. The online scheme provides digital support groups and virtual one-one counseling for gay and bi men, especially those in rural areas.
• London Friend offers the drug and alcohol advisory service Antidote – it is the UK’s only LGBT-run and targeted drug and alcohol support service.
• In Ireland, there’s the Gay Health Network.
• In Australia, ACON runs comprehensive LGBT health services, including needle and syringe exchange programs and substance support counseling.
• In the US, the Los Angeles LGBT Center offers support for people trying to tackle their substance use or in addiction recovery. It offers one-on-one therapy and therapy groups. There are specific groups for crystal meth users.
• The New York LGBT Center offers a range of substance recovery programs and links to valuable recovery resources in the NYC area. Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) opened a dedicated substance abuse clinic in September 2017.
• The Center for Disease Control carries a fuller listing of LGBT health clinics and support providers in the US.
Remember, although only you can decide if your drug use is problematic, an overdose is always a medical emergency. If you are with someone who overdoses, David Stuart’s advice is unequivocal.
‘Call an ambulance.’
Check these helplines for more help.
Know of other services local to where you live? Email [email protected]
This article is part of the Gay Star News Chemsex Series. Read more stories, support and see the videos on our chemsex section.