As the use of crystal meth has spread across the country, it appears that one of the populations, particularly fond of this drug is the gay community. Research shows that the gay, lesbian and bisexual population have a much higher rate of crystal meth addiction than the “heterosexual world". While it is reported that the gay community leans toward the crystal meth high due to heightened *** experiences, it could also be said that the gay population uses crystal meth to alleviate feelings of depression, lethargy or any other mental health issues caused by years of prejudice, discrimination or homophobia. All in all, the gay and lesbian population also have a higher incidence of dual diagnosis, than the general population.
Crystal Meth and Mental Health Issues
Many people already have mental health issues before they start using crystal meth. Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder are not uncommon. There are two aspects to consider when talking about crystal meth's impact - the symptoms of mental health problems and the root causes of these problems.
Some people discover that crystal meth provides relief from some of their troubling symptoms. Maybe they feel less depressed or less anxious while they are high, for example. So in this way, many users would say crystal meth makes their mental health symptoms “better. " This is often called “self-medicating. " But this relief is only temporary. Often the symptoms can rebound even more strongly during or after the crash. So in this case, crystal meth makes the symptoms “worse. " Also, for those with more serious mental health conditions (i. e. schizophrenia or psychosis), their symptoms actually get more severe when they get high on crystal meth.
Crystal methamphetamine is not a “cure" for dual diagnosis. It can’t fix the root causes. In fact, using crystal meth regularly may only worsen the underlying issues or mask them completely. Regular crystal meth use can also interfere with your ability to take psychiatric medications as prescribed. And crystal meth can have harmful interactions with many psych meds as well. All of these issues simply complicate mental health conditions.
Crystal Meth and Perscription Medications
Crystal meth certainly interacts with plenty of psychiatric medications. Some of these interactions may be severe or even fatal. Therefore it is critical that you discuss your crystal meth addiction or crystal meth use with your health care provider so you can seek help in a drug rehab or addiction treatment program near you.
Crystal Meth and your Psychiatrist
Because being high, crashing, withdrawing can often look like lots of mental health symptoms, it is often hard to tell which is which. Most mental health providers need a “clean slate" so to speak in order to assess what’s really going on with your symptoms. Are they simply being caused by drug use or is something else going on? They want to diagnose your condition accurately so they can treat you accurately.
In general, most providers will prefer you to be off crystal meth for at least 6-8 weeks before they can reliably assess and treat you. Each provider has different standards about this. Many are willing to provide support while you work at cutting down your crystal meth use. If you are still using, providers may hesitate to prescribe a mental health medication. The hesitation is about not wanting to risk setting you up for harmful interactions between prescribed drugs and methamphetamine.
Most mental health specialists understand that cutting down or staying off crystal meth can be very difficult. Because the issues connecting drug addiction and mental health are so complex, it is important to be honest about your drug use with your health care provider. In most cases, if you can not stop using crystal meth on your own, which most can not, admission into an inpatient addiction treatment program or drug rehab is best. Here, you can detox off the crystal meth in a safe and medically monitored setting. Detox from crystal meth addiction usually includes medication to help with mood swings, plenty of rest and good food. Your financial resources will usually determine the addiction treatment services you can access. You can call this national addiction treatment and drug rehab helpline at 1-800-511-9225, which will help you locate a drug rehab near you. If you are searching for a gay friendly drug rehab, go to www.gay-rehab.com .
Jonathan Huttner is one of the owners of Lakeview Health Systems, an inpatient addiction treatment program, with a gay friendly drug rehab component.