The abuse of crystal meth has spread beyond New York’s gay club culture to a wider cross section of gay men, especially young ones, reports the New York Times. The drug, which can be sniffed as a powder, smoked in crystalline shards or dissolved in water and injected, is considered just as addictive as crack cocaine. It is blamed for a host of problems, ruining its users’ health, robbing them of their jobs and sometimes driving them to mental illness, suicide or death by overdose. But its effects go well beyond the wreckage of individual lives, creating a ripple effect in the larger social world of gay men in the city.
Long used by blue-collar Americans as an endurance enhancer and a recreational drug, crystal meth first became popular in gay dance clubs in New York in the mid- to late 90’s, having migrated east from the gay scenes in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Honolulu. But in the last three or four years, its use here has grown enormously. Many men say they have lost friendships or romantic relationships to crystal meth, and many who don’t use it keep their distance adamantly from those who do.