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September 30th, 2015

Recovering from Meth, Rebuilding a Sex Life

For more than a decade I was an active crystal meth addict. They were the darkest years of my life.

Lust coverI suffered numerous relapses as I struggled to get clean, and my woeful journey back to crystal meth was always the same. First, small changes crept into my behavior; not about crystal meth precisely, but vaguely related habits that had once accompanied my active drug use would begin entering my routine again.

A return to the gym and a shallow fixation on my body. An abandoned cigarette habit that returned in secretive fits and starts. A feeling of entitlement—to do as I pleased, to eat junk or rejoin the lurid party scene—swept over me like a declaration of freedom that hid its true intentions in the fine print.

And then the clarion call became more explicit as involuntary images of using drugs bombarded me, plaguing my sleep and my daydreams. The images became ever more seductive, promising euphoria and an escape from my own feelings.

But the most formidable thoughts that drew me back to active addiction were always about sex.

02262008 mugshotIt feels ludicrous to me now. The sex life of a meth addict is as compulsive as it is pathetic. The drug ignited an obsession I had never known, taking my authentic sexuality and twisting it into something unrecognizable to me today. It was a constant pursuit of sex partners, naked video chats, pornography, and increasingly extreme and dangerous behaviors that lasted days and weeks at a time. It was an endless loop of desire and disappointment, played out over many years.

Incredibly, I believed the allure of hot sex was worth the consequences that piled up. Visits to the emergency room. An arrest. The company of psychotic and paranoid addicts. Weapons pointed in my direction. I simply wasn’t capable of seeing the wreckage for what it was.

Throughout my years of addiction, and even during my recovery process, I couldn’t help but wonder why. How could an intelligent and otherwise healthy man turn his life over to such a pitiful existence? What was going on in my mind?

DavidF cropTherapist and addiction specialist David Fawcett (right), in his remarkable new book, Lust, Men and Meth: A Gay Man’s Guide to Sex and Recovery, answers these questions and many more about the nature of addiction and the stubborn link between crystal meth and sexual compulsion. I cannot tell you how reassuring it was for me to read that there are physiological reasons for my addictive behaviors. There is comfort in knowing I am not alone in the mental changes that happen to crystal meth addicts, and that these changes are reversible.

I recognized myself on page after page of this book, including the fusing of sexuality and meth addiction, the stumbling blocks of recovery, and the deep and sometimes crippling shame that haunts active addiction and the recovery process.

Most importantly, this book maps a way back to normalcy. I am grateful to say that I recognized myself in these chapters as well, as the slow but steady process of rebuilding my brain took hold during my first years of solid recovery.

Whether you are a health care provider, the loved one of an addict, or are questioning your own addictive behaviors, this book reveals the most personal—and therefore, the most shame-filled—aspect of crystal meth addiction, and it provides guidance for a way out. Make no mistake, there is joy, engagement, and a worthwhile sex life on the other side of crystal meth addiction.

I am happy today. I am in a committed relationship that is rooted in honesty and has none of the selfishness and deceit with which I conducted myself during my dark and treacherous decade. Despite fears that my sexuality had been irreparably harmed, my sex life today is healthy and rooted in affection, love, and mutual care.

There are many avenues of recovery, but the science of addiction is always the same. This book outlines that science, while revealing the stories of addicts who, like me, have questioned if their sex lives might ever be the same again.

Thankfully, the answer is yes.

Mark

(This is an edited version of the book’s Foreward, which I was honored to write. I not only recommend this book, I urge you to share it with someone you know who may be struggling. You can purchase it here.)

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5 Responses to “Recovering from Meth, Rebuilding a Sex Life”

  1. Jonathan Leiter Says:

    September 30th, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Thanks for sharing this! And for your honesty… We fight addiction every day and it’s “nice” to know others face the same daily difficulties.

    (Thanks. It’s a privilege to be clean today and honest about it! — Mark)

  2. Tom Faucett Says:

    September 30th, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks Mark for highlighting some of the components that are intertwined between sex and crystal meth for many of us. I look forward to getting a copy of the book and then sharing it with others.

  3. Robert allen Says:

    October 7th, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    This is fascinating to me… I have several severely addicted family members that go back and fourth over the line….it make me so sad. I thank God every day I haven’t a addictive personality ….but feel strongly for people who do.. thanks for putting it out there

  4. How Do We Solve a Problem Like Pintauro? - The Seattle Lesbian Says:

    October 8th, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    […] segment a few minutes later, I welcomed Danny to the world of poz activism and identified myself as a fellow meth addict in recovery. I then threw out an inane softball question to our newly-minted HIV positive celebrity/cautionary […]

  5. Stephen Puibello Says:

    October 13th, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    I’m familiar with David Fawcett Phd, I cited his work in my Op-Ed, Wearing Red and Green. I’ve listened to you Mark, but I never hear the words HIV, Meth and Mental Illness. Dr. Fawcett talks about it, but not you. I’m not saying you are mentally ill, but for those of us who are, those of us who had risky sex, contracted HIV and struggle with multiple Stigmas. It’s articles like this that reinforce that stigma towards LGBT mentally ill consumers is very real, very hurtful.

    (I absolutely believe that I suffer from a mental illness known as addiction. This piece was narrowly focused on sex and meth addiction, however. I can only write from my own experience, and I’m grateful you are writing about yours — and have provided a link to your important article above. — Mark)

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