Letter to the Editor, via Windy City Times
To the editor:
We are writing to counter the recurring and disturbing community discussion of crystal-meth use by gay men in Chicago.
The unfortunate and inaccurate message that "Meth = Death" characterizes this discussion.
Fact: Approximately 90 percent to 95 percent of gay men in Chicago don't use crystal methamphetamine.
Fact: Health Department research indicates that crystal use has decreased. Among hundreds of men surveyed, 4 percent said they recently used it ( as compared to 10 percent of those surveyed five years ago ) .
Fact: National and local data indicate that only a minority of people who try a drug, including potent drugs like methamphetamine, go on to become regular users and/or dependent.
Fact: Of the small ( but important nonetheless ) percentage of Chicago gay men who are addicted to crystal, and are experiencing health and financial crises, relationship problems, and legal difficulties, most of them won't die.
Meth does not equal death.
Should we continue to challenge the allure of substances and behaviors that keep us as a community from being our best? Yes. Should we promote messaging that seeks to promote health and wellness? Yes. Can we have community dialogue and get each others‚ attention without over sensationalizing? We can and we must.
Why not emphasize our community's courage and resilience in spending the past five years tackling this issue and our accomplishments in reducing use?
Misleading and deceptive communications on such an important matter do not serve our collective physical, mental, spiritual or sexual health needs. They don't enlighten. Telling the truth is essential, involves nuance, and our community deserves no less.
For those who use the drug problematically, treatment is available and recovery is possible. Chicago has a wealth of resources to help gay men addicted to crystal, including programs at Howard Brown Health Center, Haymarket Center and Valeo at Lakeshore Hospital. Additionally, there are groups like Crystal Meth Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous that offer important support to people who want to get and stay sober.
Crystal meth is an issue of concern for those who use the drug, for those who love them, and for the community which is their home. Chicago remains committed to helping these people receive the support they need to minimize harms, reduce use or quit altogether.
Project CRYSP ( LifeLube's momma)
Also in the Windy City Times, another item of interest:
Drug Task Force Starts Website
In a meeting held Feb. 17 at the Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH ) , 333 S. State, the Chicago Task Force on LGBT Substance Use and Abuse announced that it has started a Web site that functions as an information repository.
The Web site, www.ChicagoLGBTSubstance.com , has several pages, including "Body, Mind, & Soul," which discusses emotional and mental health in addition to the physical; "Substances," which tackles alcohol, opiates and tobacco, among other drugs; and "Chicago Services," which provides a list of references and agencies that aid in drug treatment, but which also includes a chat room.
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