With crystal meth among gay men becoming a hot topic again (Queerty readers had explosive reactions to a recent claim that gay men are dancing with death), we wondered what kind of hurdles await our gay brothers who are actually trying to beat their drug habits rather than withstanding yet another lecture. So we sought out some practical advice.
The biggest challenge, according to therapist and addiction expert David Fawcett, is beating the strong connection formed between drugs & booze and sex, particularly the startling connection between Meth and sex. It is the leading cause of relapse, Fawcett believes, because meth addicts have a hard time doing one without the other. Sex and booze pose a similar trap.
Fawcett has just released a new book, Lust, Men and Meth: A Gay Man’s Guide to Sex and Recovery. We asked him to outline five ways to break the dangerous connection between sex and addiction.
Fawcett’s five practical tips make sense for meth addicts, or anyone trying to recover from drug, alcohol, or sex addiction – or those just looking to push the reset button on their sex life.
1. Take a break from sex.
Okay, we may have lost most of you right there. But cleansing the palate is crucial for an addict who has been pigging out at the buffet for too long. “Sexual desire may be dormant for a while anyway,” says Fawcett, “and that’s not a bad thing.”
“The break also gives the brain a chance to readjust to a lower volume of stimulus,” adds Fawcett. In other words, after some time away from sex it might not take hours of porn and a cast of thousands to get to the finish line.
2. Get out of drug mode by changing your habits.
The constant drumbeat of sex and more sex that characterizes meth or sex addiction has to be arrested – before you’re arrested. To do it, avoid other drugs and even alcohol.
“Get rid of all your sexual apps and online hookup accounts,” says Fawcett, “and change your phone number and other contact information.” This might seem severe for a regular dude who just wants to get laid, but we’re talking about people caught in a dangerous spiral of compulsive sex and drugs. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
And if you’ve got your eye on a hot new man, “make a date, not a hookup,” says Fawcett.
Okay, so maybe you will miss the dark mysteries, groups, and base piggishness of your previous sex life. Get over it, says Fawcett. “It’s unsustainable, unhealthy, and ultimately unsatisfying,” he says.
And get ready to give up your favorite porn sites. “Porn keeps addictive thinking alive,” says our expert, “especially videos you associate with abuse.”
It also makes it tougher to get aroused in real life when you have unrealistic sexual Olympics playing in your head.
4. Redefine what sexual pleasure means to you.
Get out of your head and into your fingertips, Fawcett advises. “Rather than being up in your head with fantasies, many of them associated with being high, focus on physical sensations in the here and now.” Sounds like the good doctor just recommended lots of healthy masturbation. Score!
Our sex expert also believes you should do your best Cher impression and turn back time. “What got you off before you started acting compulsively?” Fawcett asks. “Those original thoughts are still there. Reclaim them.” Although sex without drugs might feel quiet and even scary compared to the outrageousness of sex wth drugs or alcohol, “it can also be more subtle, more intense, more erotic, and more satisfying,” says Fawcett.
5. Dial up your capacity for intimacy.
Drug-fueled sex is usually the opposite of emotional or intimate, so for addicts trying to recover, intimacy must be relearned. “Explore sex with one person at a time, once you begin having sex again,” Fawcett advises, “and stay consciously present with them during sex, not distracted with some fantasy in your head.”
To be a truly giving sexual partner, “grow your empathy,” Fawcett says. Treat the man under the sheets as someone you care about, not a slab of beef. Consider how your actions — your touch, your words — affect them. Selfishness is rarely sexy.
Finally, be patient. “Many gay men have never had sex without a substance of some kind,” says Fawcett. Rebuilding a healthy sex life – or building one for the first time – benefits from a healthy support systems, self-esteem, and perhaps a good therapist if your challenges continue.