At first glance, the use of intoxicating substances to party or feel elated can be very seductive. Unfortunately, the abuse of certain drugs can result in risky behavior, adverse consequences, and, ultimately, dependence, tolerance, and addiction.
Once an individual has developed an addiction, the short-term potential for a healthy and normal life essentially stops. A person may find him or herself acting in unsavory ways to obtain and use drugs regardless of the problems it’s causing—otherwise known as compulsive drug-seeking behavior.
Of note, the abuse of addictive substances can lead to risky, impulsive, and unsafe sexual encounters. Methamphetamine (meth) is among the most notorious of these drugs, and it has often been purposefully used to increase sexual pleasure and stamina.
What Is Meth?
Meth is a powerful stimulant drug that is most often found in illicit form and has a high potential for addiction. It has a relatively long half-life, is highly toxic, and dramatically affects the amount of the feel-good chemical dopamine in the CNS (central nervous system). People who abuse meth will feel a significant increase in energy and wakefulness in addition to a wealth of unwanted side effects.
Due to the widespread manufacturing of meth, many governments have cracked down on the sale of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals that contain pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient used to make meth. Because of this, the production and distribution of the drug have been, in large part, taken over by Mexican drug cartels. However, many individuals still make meth in secret home labs using a variety of potentially toxic ingredients—many of which are highly combustible and can lead to fires, explosions, and injuries.
Studies have shown that the long-term abuse of meth adversely alters brain structure and function, and can lead to psycho-emotional and physical impairments. Deficits that occur are frequently related to motor skills, learning, and memory.
Symptoms of heavy and chronic meth use may include the following:
- Violent behavior
- Psychotic symptoms
- Paranoia and hallucinations
- Dental decay
- Skin sores
Meth Use and Risky Sexual Conduct
Research has revealed that meth abuse and addiction are also associated with high-risk sexual behavior among men who have sex with other men. Risky sexual conduct is also more common among meth users who have HIV than non-users. Moreover, there has been a notable increase in unprotected sex and the number of partners among men diagnosed with HIV. Data related to the sexual practices of heterosexual men are not as clear.
In a report put forth by Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, about one-third of meth users admitted to engaging in sex with a person who was infected with HIV. Half of the individuals studied also reported having had unprotected sex.
Investigators noted that meth is a relatively inexpensive street drug that lowers inhibitions and has been known to enhance sexual response. They also warned that any drug, not just meth, has the potential to increase the likelihood that a person will engage in risky sexual conduct.
Women, Meth, and Sex
Most research performed regarding meth users and their sexual behaviors has been largely focused on males. However, in 2004, the University of San Diego studied the increasing number of females who are addicted to meth. The age range of participants in the study was broad, from adolescence (10-19) to mid-fifties. Racial diversity was included, with 96% of subjects having achieved less than a college-level degree.
The study found that a majority of female meth users in the San Diego area were women who began abusing meth in their teenage years. Research also revealed that female meth users reported experiencing enhanced sexual responses while they were under the influence of meth.
The motives behind why women were using meth varied. For instance, the number of women who abused meth as a means to intensify sexual pleasure was less than one-in-five (18%). Instead, most female meth addicts used the drug for the following reasons:
- Get high (56%)
- Have more energy (37%)
- Cope with moods (34%)
- Lose weight (29%)
- To party (28%)
- To escape (27%)
In general, researchers discovered that the number of women who reported engaging in anonymous sex was much lower than that of men who used meth. Also included was a survey of heterosexual males that revealed women and “straight” men were similar regarding the type and number of risky sexual encounters or partners.
Meth Users Come From All Walks of Life
It is crucial to realize there is no “typical” meth user. The only common factor among users is that meth has a high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. It can be detrimental to an individual’s health, shatter families, and increase the risk of questionable sexual behaviors and sexually transmitted diseases.
Some people erroneously believe that meth addiction cannot be treated effectively in a rehab center. However, many seek addiction treatment for meth abuse, and the family members and friends of meth users are encouraged to support and assist their loved ones in finding professional help.
Just Believe Recovery offers integrated, customized residential and partial hospitalization programs for the treatment of meth abuse and other substance use disorders. Our programs feature a variety of research-based services, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, peer group support, aftercare planning, and more.
Please contact us today if you or someone you love is addicted to meth, other drugs, or alcohol. We are committed to helping people break free from the chains of addiction for life!