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Recreational Drugs 

Recreational Drugs 

Cannabis

Gay men use recreational drugs at higher rates than the general population.

As for recreational drugs, gay men use them at higher rates than the general population, and a number of substances are favored by gay men: amyl nitrite (poppers), marijuana, ecstasy, crystal, special K, cocaine, and GHB (G).

Recreational drugs are a form of escapism. Their history has been documented for years and whether you are using prescription drugs or street drugs, the belief that you are taking something to "let go" or to "have a good time" is equivalent.

Substance abuse is a major crisis among gay men. The crystal methamphetamine epidemic has certainly become its own separate dilemma when gay men are contracting HIV in record numbers because of their crystal use. But what about all of those gay men who are not addicts? In our community there exists a form of drug dependence called "functional addiction." Simply put, they are individuals who are able to live, work, and pay bills while using recreational drugs on a routine or even daily basis. This issue almost surpasses those who are clearly physically and emotionally dependant because there is a certain underlying denial with functional addicts.

For gay men, the establishment of drug use is as much a part of their psychosocial assessment as their smoking and alcohol intake. Most men admit to occasional drug use on "party weekends." So then, the question becomes how many "party weekends" are there in a year? If you log onto www .CircuitNoize.com, you can probably find a party somewhere in the world on any given day. The useof recreational drugs at circuit parties is a fact. The worrisome issue is how much and to what extent. It is important to ask yourself these questions:

* Why do I use recreational drugs?

* How often do I party?

* Have I ever missed work because of excessive partying?

Mothers may have warned you that what makes you feel good can't be good for you, though they may have been innocently referring to potato chips or candy, not ecstasy or "blow." Maybe the idea of being tempted by forbidden fruit is something we will all have to struggle with at one time or another, but know this: Too many gay men lose their lives to GHB. In 1999, there were nearly 3,000 medical emergencies related to GHB, and the Drug Enforcement Agency reported sixty GHB- related deaths in 2000.

Likewise, too many young men have suffered heart attacks from cocaine use. The American Heart Association reported that regular cocaine use is associated with an increased likelihood of heart attacks in younger men. In de pen dent risk factors for heart attacks include older age, race, male sex, and hereditary factors. Compounded by cocaine use, the risk of a heart attack in the first hourafter usage is twenty-four-times greater than normal, as reported by the University of Michigan Health System in 2003, and cocaine users have a sevenfold lifetime risk of a heart attack.

If you use recreational drugs, please be honest with your doctor, and if you think you have a problem, then seek counseling, whether through your doctor or online. There are many resources listed in the back of this book.

In the United States, gay men constitute the highest population infected with HIV. Alcohol and recreational drugs have been shown to be associated with a higher risk for unsafe sex. Alcohol, smoking, and recreational drug use is conducive to poor compliance with prescribed medication and promotes premature progression of other illnesses like diabetes, hypertension, and HIV. Treatment,especially for alcohol and substance abuse, needs to focus not only on the disorder, but also on ac cep tance of one's homosexuality.

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