The Truth About Gay Drug Use

Drug use among gay men may be less common than you think
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There is a stereotype that gay men are drug abusers. While research tells us that sexual minorities, including gay men, may be at higher risk for substance use and addictions, the truth is that the majority of gay men do not abuse drugs.

Most of the focus of research into substance use in sexual minorities has been with gay men, largely because of the increase in HIV in the gay community. Research has shown that some gay men engage in dangerous party and play activities, during which substance use, and particularly the use of crystal meth, has been combined with unsafe sex, including sex with multiple partners.

Yet research has also shown that one of many myths about gay meth use is that these activities are common among gay men -- in reality, only a minority of gay men take meth and have unsafe sex.

So where do these myths come from? There are several possible sources of this misinformation. Unscrupulous drug dealers and gay sex addicts, both of whom need a supply of vulnerable gay men to sell drugs to and have sex with, obviously have a better chance at influencing young, naive gay men if it comes across as peer pressure to do what all gay men seem to be doing, rather than that they are exploiting a young man to do something unwise or unusual.  And men who are new to the gay scene may make contact with other gay men through gay dating sites and gay bars, where casual sex and even PnP seems to be the norm, rather than through non-sexual relationships with other gay men who are not engaging in these activities.

Another place these myths come from is die-hard homophobics. Homophobia may be conscious or unconscious, but I haven't seen any research comparing party and play and HIV infection rates between sexual minorities and heterosexual sex addicts. Although party and play is typically used to describe gay drug-fuelled sex, in fact, the practice of taking drugs prior to casual sex has always been common among sex workers, who have to cope with a variety of stressors, including having sex with people they are not attracted to.

And the phenomenon of heterosexuals getting intoxicated and even front-loading before engaging in casual sex is so common as to be considered normal in many communities, particularly among younger people, yet it shares many of the risks of party and play.

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