He'd graduated from school with a degree in marketing. He had a steady boyfriend and a good job at Universal Music in Chicago. Yet three years later, he was unemployed and homeless, spending all of his time in and out of local jails. For me, meth made me feel like I was Superman, and I could do anything. I was the hottest guy in the room.
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Now 48, Zacharias grew up gay and closeted in rural Kentucky in the s and '80s. He told me that taking the drug gave him more than just a feeling of invincibility; it also made him feel an acceptance that he'd been longing for his entire life. You're under the influence of a substance, you're not really being you. Over the past two decades, stories like that of Jeffrey Zacharias have become increasingly common, as the gay community faces what has been called an "invisible epidemic.
From Silk Road to Grindr: Buying and Selling Drugs on Social Media
Statistics show that meth use soared in cities like Los Angeles in the early s, but the drug has also shown a particular uptick in popularity in recent years. In , 4. By , that figure was up to 9. This drastic increase has a lot to do with the fact that the drug is frequently used in " party and play " culture, a term for hooking up while under the influence of methamphetamines. Crystal meth acts on the same pleasure zones that are activated in the brain during sexual activity.
Engaging in intercourse while on meth is widely referred to as "chemsex. In addition to the drug's use in gay party culture, meth's easy availability on the internet has increased access to the drug, especially with the rise of hookup apps.
In , getting meth is as easy as logging into an app on your smartphone. He explained that the connection between internet hookup culture and crystal meth use is one that often goes overlooked.
There's a Meth Problem on Grindr and Scruff — And No One Is Doing Much About It
On gay apps like Grindr, Scruff, and Jack'd, users have developed their own elaborate system of slang terms to find others looking to " party and play. For instance, if a user specifies that he's into " laTe nighT parTying ," that most likely means he's looking for someone with whom to smoke meth. On Craigslist, dealers have long advertised their products through this kind of code. As "ice" is one of the most commonly understood slang terms for meth, vendors might offer "ice packs for your esky" or "cold rock ice cream" to signal availability to prospective buyers.
This is a culture that operates in plain sight, with minimal monitoring or accountability from admins or app developers. Last year, Australian health advocate Jay Morris, who works with gay clients recovering from addiction, actually called for gay hookup apps to be "monitored and shut down. It's a complete free-for-all. You can watch people shooting up live on camera. After being diagnosed with HIV five years ago, he told me that he moved back home to be closer to friends and family.
But shortly after relocating to North Carolina, he met a dealer through Craigslist named Hank. Hank was in his 40s and also HIV-positive. He felt like someone C. The weekend blurred into Thursday, then into Monday. I didn't show up for family functions. I was performing poorly at work. I moved from smoking meth to injecting it. In addition to the emotional trauma his addiction has caused, there are the physical effects. Sleeping with him is impossible because of the compulsive twitching of his legs and loud grinding of his teeth, an impact of Meth addiction that leaves some users actually without teeth.
Their argument is that gay men ought to be able to make their own decisions about whether to have sex without condoms and expose themselves to STDS and HIV. Grindr and Scruff and similar apps are owned by gay men Grindr and its founder, Joel Simkhai, are based in Los Angeles whose stated goal is to bring us together, not kill us or destroy our lives.
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Jay Morris, a recovering Meth addict and a gay health advocate in Australia, has called on the Australian government to shut down sites like Grindr that allow users to promote the use of Meth and to offer to sell and buy it. Australia has a telecommunications law that prohibits phones and the Internet from being used to distribute illegal drugs.
The US also has a variety of similar telecommunications laws prohibiting illegal drug activity and provide for severe penalties. But when Queerty. Many of those who commented on the Queerty story agreed. Henry E.
Scott, a long time journalist, is the former president of Out Inc. The Pride LA. A screenshot of the conversation Henry Scott had with a Meth dealer on Grindr.