Drugs, Sex and Gay Clubs
We are constantly being bombarded by messages telling us we all should expect better sex and we are not getting it right if our social life is not constantly hectic and we're not acquiring Facebook friends exponentially. In other words the pressure is on, to succeed.
I first met Matt about eight months ago, and his story was certainly far from unfamiliar to me. I remember asking him what he wanted from counselling and how he felt it would help him? “ I want somebody who will understand me and where I am coming from, I don't want to be judged; just understood"! He went on to tell me that the therapeutic services available in Manchester, just made him feel uncomfortable. “All they want to do is change you; so that they look good, what good is that to me? I like my K, it makes me feel good about myself. I have the money and I'm not doing anybody else any harm; am I "?
It really is over simplistic to merely put drug use down to just enjoying yourself, it always masks other unresolved issues such as self-esteem, lack of confidence, abuse, loss and grief to name but a few. Arguably with gay men in particular, this picture can often get much darker and altogether more complicated. Amongst a lot of men, whether we care to admit it, there are deeply uncomfortable feelings about sex. They imagine, guiltily, that this is the type of sex their parents would disapprove of. In turn, this can lead to feelings of worthlessness and even self-loathing.
On the flip-side drugs such as GHB/GBL, Mephedrone and Ketamine can strip away any feelings of inadequacy and insecurity while at same time ramping up the libido and removing any inhibitions. However, this can leave you emotionally vulnerable, unstable and unable to trust your own judgements. This is of course, a price many men (not just gay) and some women are more than happy to pay in order to lose their inhibitions, which they often feel deny them the life they want to lead. One important point all too often missed is it's not about drugs, it is about the feelings. As Matt told me “this is not about enjoyment it is about survival".
I asked Matt if he felt comfortable about telling me more? “ That's fine, that's what I'm here for! It was one of those invitations you just could not refuse. All in all it went on for five days, slowly slipping into a mass of exhausted ashen looking guys who hadn't slept for days. Living off Dunns River [a nutritional milk supplement] and sweet fizzy drinks. It's when you're tired and vulnerable; thats the time for the moods to come on. Feelings of guilt, disgust with yourself, paranoia and panic. This is often the time people end up in hospital or dead".
As our time together progressed I began to see another side to Matt. I saw a small lonely boy who found it difficult to make friends - he would spend hours on his chopper bike alone watching the trains go by. When I asked could you not tell your parents you were lonely? His reply was somewhat chilling. “No they wouldn't have understood, I was of no interest to them, it would be different if it was either my big brother or little sister but I was the one they just weren't interested in." This unhappy story was in fact, the beginning of Matt's awareness of who he was and almost from this point on he stopped running and started to accept who he was and that who he was; was an OK guy, who did not always have to hide behind a misty drug induced haze of forgetfulness.
It would be all too easy and convenient to dismiss the rise in so-called “recreational drugs" as just a gay thing. All the indicators point to the use of these drugs increasing dramatically in the foreseeable future. Figures published in July 2014 suggest drug use by gay and bi men is likely to be 25% higher than amongst straight-men, however, this is inevitably a very rough approximate to the future situation. Factors included the ease of obtaining these new drugs and the use of internet sites to find sex parties and drug dens. It is worth remembering that new substances are arriving on the drugs market all the time, suggesting that this is certainly no time for complacency and denial.