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What’s the score?

Crystal meth is also known as meth, crystal, methamphetamine and Tina. In the US it’s also called ice, crank and speed (not to be confused with the British use of ‘speed’ for ordinary, weaker amphetamine).

Crystal meth is a super-strength amphetamine stimulant which speeds up your body and its functions. Industrial chemicals and cleaning products which are often toxic go into making it.

Used in dance clubs or during sex, crystal releases the brain’s stress hormone norepinephrine and ‘feel good’ chemicals dopamine and serotonin.

Meth comes as white or colourless crystals which can be crushed to make a powder, or it might sometimes come as a pill. 

Taking crystal

Meth in its crystal form can be smoked through a glass pipe. Crystal as a powder is usually snorted, but can be mixed with water and injected. It can also be injected up the arse with a syringe with the needle taken off, which is known as a booty bump.  Using meth is called tweaking and injecting it is called slamming.

There are tips to make taking crystal meth safer here.

Highs and lows

Meth is used for energy during non-stop sex or dancing. It can make you feel on a high, wide awake, confident, sometimes invincible, impulsive, less likely to feel pain, and very horny with fewer inhibitions. 

Crystal increases your body temperature, heart beat and blood pressure, possibly to dangerous levels, with a risk of heart attack, stroke, coma or death.

You might go days without eating or sleeping. The comedown can leave you feeling exhausted, aggressive, and paranoid, in some cases even suicidal.

Depending on how you take crystal, it can damage the lungs, nose and mouth. The drug’s bad reputation comes from the many casualties it’s caused on the gay scene in America and Australia.

Sex on crystal meth

Crystal can make a man feel very horny, even sexually compulsive. Some guys on crystal take sexual risks they wouldn't normally, like picking up or passing on HIV.

Crystal often stops men from coming or getting a hard-on, which is known as ‘crystal dick’.

Long or rough crystal-fuelled sex sessions can cause sore or bleeding arses, dicks and mouths. These might not be noticed but mean there is more risk of HIV, hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted infections being passed on.

Sex on crystal has been described as cold, aggressive or disconnected.

Find out more about drugs and sex here.

A long term relationship?

Tolerance to crystal meth soon builds and users need more to get the same high. The drug has a reputation for being quickly addictive. Many who party with Tina have waved goodbye to jobs, homes, money, boyfriends, friends and health. Hardened gay scene party animals who can control their use of other drugs have found themselves out of their depth with crystal. It can get hard to think of having sex without being on meth.

Using crystal long term can get scary -- we’re talking psychosis or lasting mental health problems, even after quitting the drug.

Quitting crystal can be very hard and its effects on the brain can last long after giving the drug up.

Crystal with other drugs

HIV drugs – protease inhibitors could cause a big, maybe fatal rise in levels of crystal in the body. And if you’re tweaking the weekend away you’re less likely to take your HIV drugs on time (if you remember at all). Meth itself damages the immune system, as does going without food or sleep when you’re on it.

Ecstasy, cocaine, poppers and Viagra-type drugs - all these put your heart under strain. If you’re using crystal too you’re pushing your heart even harder.

Anti-depressants – taking crystal while on anti-depressants can make life-threatening reactions more likely, including dangerously high blood pressure - check with your HIV doctor.

Useful to know

Injecting is best avoided. It’s the quickest way to getting addicted and runs the risk of serious health problems (skin abscesses, collapsed veins, blood poisoning, and heart infections). Sharing injecting equipment puts you at high risk of getting or passing on HIV, hepatitis C and other infections.

Using hot pipes might injure your mouth and if you share them it risks passing on - in tiny amounts of blood - infections like hepatitis C and HIV.

Condoms are more likely to break after about half an hour of fucking. So during long sex sessions on crystal it makes sense to check rubbers during sex and put a fresh one on after 30 minutes.

The law

In 2007 crystal meth was reclassified as a Class A drug. Possession can mean up to seven years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Intending to supply, including giving it to your mates, can mean up to life in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

Read our page on Drugs and the police for advice if you’re arrested.

More info

www.aidschicago.org/crystal/staying_off_crystal.pdf

This article was last reviewed on: 28/10/11
Date due for next review: 28/10/14


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