Dear Dr Ren:
My boyfriend and I first tried crystal a few months back and we loved it. We danced all night and then came home and had hours of explosive sex.
I’m all for doing crystal once in a while, but my boyfriend can’t stay away from it. He’s using it all the time and it’s changing everything. He stays up for days, is irritable and moody. It’s getting to be a bit scary.
What should I do?
Dear Tina’s Ex:
You got yourself into a whole mess of trouble in a few short months, didn’t you? What for you was a fine new party drug is for your boyfriend turning into a nasty addiction. No wonder you are confused; your realities are so different now.
That’s the thing about Tina–also called crystal, meth, speed, ice, glass, crank, tweak, or chalk–you just can’t trust her.
It may be helpful to understand how crystal works in the body. At first it acts as an antidepressant. It floods the brain with three important neurotransmitters: serotonin, norepinephrine, and–most importantly–dopamine, the feel-good chemical. You become exuberantly awake, physically and emotionally. Your heart rate, pulse and breathing all increase. Your energy is boundless. You are Superman unleashed. Everything sparkles and shines. You feel optimistic, charismatic, uninhibited and powerful.
And the sex!
Crystal bolsters confidence, permits repressed desires, and supercharges your libido. It purges inhibitions and common sense. Sex with Tina is like trading in your tiny black and white television set for high-definition, wide-screen, plasmavision with surround sound.
This drug boasts a lengthy 9-12 hour half-life, is inexpensive and easy to score. You can drink it, snort it, inject it, swallow it in pill form, booty bump it (pop it up your arse), or hot rail it (heat it in a glass bowl and inhale the vapours).
With this drug on board, you feel invincible, desirable and sexy. And you can fuck for days. Must there be a downside?
Yes, boys, there must, and there is. One minor drawback is crystal dick, the inability of some men to get or keep an erection caused by the constriction of blood vessels in the penis. This, in turn, leads some to bottom uncharacteristically and sometimes unsafely.
The sex often becomes highly energetic and extended. Even if you use condoms, those long, hot sessions can compromise condom integrity. Some combine meth with Viagra to overcome the erection problem, only to risk far more serious cardiac arrhythmia.
While high, you forget to eat, sleep and drink. It’s all so hard on your unsuspecting body.
Eventually you crash. Your brain, having used up its supply of dopamine, leads you into a deep depression. For as long as your luck holds out, your natural brain chemistry will slowly return. But the cruel joke about crystal meth is that no one knows who will become addicted, or when.
One day the key simply fits the lock. From then on, the brain is no longer able to recover. It sounds like that is what has happened in your case. You have escaped early dependence so far and your boyfriend hasn’t.
Once addiction is established, the brain stops producing dopamine. It is now reliant on an external source, without which you experience profound chemically induced depression. It feels worse than dismal and you know precisely how to fix it: another hit of ice. With one hit, your hopeless, decolourized world can instantly return to Technicolor magic. It all seems logical. The hunger for the high is undeniable while the argument for abstinence unconvincing.
While your brain demands more crystal for its own reasons, the drug compromises your body’s immune system. The more often you use Tina, the greater your chances of being infected with HIV.
The first thing you need to do, Tina’s Ex, is protect yourself. Understand that your lover’s judgment is badly impaired when he is tweaked or when he’s crashing. Assume he is engaging in high-risk behaviours and refrain from unprotected sex with him. Get tested.
In his lucid moments, implore him to get help from a drug treatment program. He will not be able to manage this problem with willpower alone.
You will need support as well. Learn everything you can about what to expect. You will have to decide if this is a journey you wish to take. The scenery is not pleasant. Fortunately, you two first used only recently. That’s good news, for the physiological as well as psychological effects of this poison are cumulative. The sooner you start, the easier it will be for you to get free.
Certainly this is a life-altering experience for you both. Nobody meant any harm. After years of stifling oppression and a horrific epidemic, the gay community was ready to embrace a drug that celebrated sex and good times. However, the potential cost of crystal meth is way too high. Once you are hers, Tina is a jealous mistress.
I wish you the best in reclaiming your boyfriend.