Methamphetamine is a synthetic amphetamine or stimulant which increases activity in the central nervous system. Almost all methamphetamine is homemade; Southern California is known as the methamphetamine capital of the world. The drug resembles a fine coarse powder, chunks or crystal. Commonly known as speed, it can be snorted, swallowed, injected or smoked. Gay men frequently call methamphetamine crystal. Crank refers to any form of methamphetamine, and ice is a crystallized smokable form.
Crystal can be extremely habit forming, stimulating the central nervous system from 8 to 24 hours. It typically has a purer quality than cocaine, its effects last longer and itŐs cheaper. Because tissue tolerance of crystal can develop quickly, problem users may quickly increase the amount of drug used.
Short term effects can include: increased alertness and energy, sense of well-being, heightened libido and sensual experiences, paranoia, intense high, loss of erection, hallucinations, insomnia, dry, itchy skin and loss of appetite.
Crystal affects the mind by causing: depression, disorganized lifestyle, weight loss, poor coping abilities, possible kidney, lung and liver damage, stroke and death.
Crystal can cause a severe crash or psychological low feeling after the drug wears off. This can be compounded by dehydration and malnutrition. Problem users may increase crystal use to avoid the crash, or misuse other drugs to treat the effects of the crash.
In Los Angeles, approximately 10,000 gay men use crystal on a regular basis.
Gay men who use crystal exhibit social behaviors and develop social networks that intersect both their gay identity and drug-using practices. Unlike straight-identified users, certain gay communities specifically associate crystal use with sexual functioning.
* Although common gay stereotyping associates crystal use with circuit theme parties or hustling, gay men of all types, ethnicities and classes use the drug.
* Diminished sexual inhibition, heightened awareness and increased energy and libido, as well as potential infection through contaminated needles and works increase the risk for HIV infection.
* Crystal can be used as a coping mechanism for the realities of HIV for both the infected and uninfected.
* Multiple studies suggest crystal users take more HIV risks and have a harder time maintaining safer behaviors.
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