This experience was shared by a member* of Rewired - a support group for men who have sex with men and use methamphetamine, run by the NZ Aids Foundation and NZ Drug Foundation.
With a background of recreational drug use throughout my life, it didn’t take long for my lifestyle to become focused around getting my hands on all different types of drugs, not just meth. I would use meth, and MDMA, sometimes GHB, for sex; then weed and booze to come down.
Looking back, it feels like recreational drug use, or occasional use, became constant overnight.
I sometimes wonder whether sexuality and drug use, for me, were totally intertwined; or just slightly. I don’t think it would be honest to say just slightly as a gay man. That is so often the case, particularly with heavy, daily methamphetamine use - which is where my substance addiction skyrocketed to.
I had my first puff at 19 years old with a friend of mine. Then, once or twice a month became once or twice a week, then daily use became multiple times daily use, then I started injecting - which is when the wheels truly fell off.
I solidly used throughout my 20s up until this year, and I’ve just turned 33.
Social occasions - the memories that I have - will be sneaking into club toilets and doing it with friends, or going home early from a big group of mates to smoke meth with smaller groups of friends, or putting myself in situations with strangers which were hyper sexualized.
At first, I would watch porn for 10, 12, 14 hours at a time, in lieu of interacting with other people. Over time, with the advent of Grindr in particular, using meth became more social with other gay and bi guys, but drug use also increased massively. Meth became more prevalent as I explored sides to sexuality that previously I wouldn’t have, because of the ease of finding sexual partners, and also finding drugs. The two have definitely always gone hand in hand for me personally, and I think to a large extent, I became addicted to sex too.
Everything became a little bit secretive and quite isolating compared to hanging out with big groups of friends. I found myself getting off on having sex with straight guys and it seemed so much easier to do that on meth. It was my non-scene part of the world where I could explore and be myself alongside guys just like me. Yet, I completely lost who I was over time.
I was generous with drugs in order to have great sex and lots of fun times gurning around the city. But what that really meant was that I destroyed my financial wellbeing. Across five years, I spent close to 100k on meth alone. I often have to reassure myself as it definitely wasn’t enough great sex to justify that amount of money.
Months of heavy meth use derailed my working week and life very quickly. Monday would arrive, and I’d be shattered. So to get through a 60 hour work week, I’d use just a little, and work late to catch up. Then, I’d overcompensate due to guilty feelings around using, and lying to family and mates about it, so I’d get high, then do even more work late into the night to take my mind off things and try to contain the guilt.
Constantly feeling guilty about things gives way to total loss of rational thinking on meth. That opens me up to much more harmful usage, and puts you in touch with so many more people who share the same poison.
When I met my partner, I wanted him to love me, and he felt the same way, so we bought each other a lot of meth. It was a destructive time that I’d rather forget, punctuated by violent altercations, cheating, trashing my house, scaring neighbours, police callouts, interventions from family, and occasional happiness.
My week, depending on how well I was doing with using meth, became structured around which drugs I was going to use, more than based on which friends or family I was going to see - and therefore, which drugs I needed to avoid using to get through those interactions without raising suspicion.
Careful or cautious thought patterns were replaced with zero care. All time, money, and social occasions were getting thrown at meth.
The loss of meaningful connections was unbelievable, and it was over such a prolonged period of time I really suffered the loss of each individual family member’s or friend’s trust.
I tried to replace my feelings of guilt and shame with a never-ending cycle of needing to improve across my life. But, I was determined that meth could still be managed.
The lowest point came when I was working at an inner-city office, with fantastic clients on a huge salary, and my partner drove into town on my lunch break, so he and I could go and slam. Then I went back and was so paranoid that I packed up my bag and left the office.
I never returned.
Even after all of that, it took another two to three years to finally commit to stopping. It took me a long time to realise that in the absence of wanting to stop and go to rehab, which I failed at miserably as well, in my experience you just have to embrace life for what it is, and what it offers.
Some people call it boring, some people call it normal, some people call it Groundhog Day – life off drugs is a hell of a lot better than the uncertainty, the anxiety, the paranoia, and the disappointment that comes with drug use all the time.
The things that help me the most were severing all social and sexual connections involving meth for good. Put the control of my finances in the hands of someone responsible, fight a little bit harder to enjoy the things that I used to enjoy, because it’s quite remarkable how quickly I became a completely different person.
Your perception versus reality is, trust me, after 15 years of drug use, very warped. You need to get back to giving yourself the best opportunity to see yourself how other people see you when you’re not high.
If I can do this, anyone can.
*Audio recording not their own voice.
Our thoughts are will all those affected by recent flooding in Tāmaki Makaurau. Here are some suggestions of things to consider to keep safe and well if you're planning on using drugs.
Like the chocolate chips in a cookie, your drug might not be evenly distributed throughout your pill or baggie.