Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-03-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Breaking the Crystal Grip
by Andrew Davis
2005-03-02

This article shared 5783 times since Wed Mar 2, 2005
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Pictured Some say events such as Fireball foster drug use, while others say such substance abuses occur every night at gay bars. Photo by Kirk Williamson

Part I

Haymarket Center held a public forum at Uptown Bank Feb. 24 to discuss the skyrocketing use of crystal methamphetamine throughout Chicago, particularly in the gay community.

According to Kennis Williams, the center's coordinator of health and education, the meeting ( which was attended by merchants, service providers, and the general public ) was an opportunity for people to come together to learn about the drug and to air their concerns.

Individuals expressed concern about being seen as judgmental if they spoke out about meth; in addition, some were also worried about the perception that all gay men indulge in the drug.

A numbers game

Certainly not all gay men take meth; however, enough arrests have happened ( with more likely to come ) for community leaders to become alarmed. 'Things have been bad for a while; however, we have a lot more evidence now,' according to Lora Branch, director of the Chicago Department of Public Health's STD/HIV Prevention & Care Program.

'The recent arrests that have appeared in the media have heightened our consciousness about how bad it's getting,' Branch said.

Although no hard statistics have been released regarding meth use in Chicago, the numbers in other cities and states do not bode well for the Windy City. 23rd District police lieutenant Bob Stasch told Windy City Times that the number of search warrants executed over the past two years rose from 14 in 2003 to 68 in 2004.

In Hawaii, The Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program revealed that in 2001, 38.1 percent of adult males arrested from January to September 2001 tested positive for meth abuse. Even downstate Illinois is becoming a hub of meth-related activity. According to press material from the Web site of state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the number of meth labs seized by the Illinois State Police increased by more than five times over the last four years, from 87 labs in 1998 to 666 in 2001. Also, in downstate Illinois communities, meth accounts for up to 90 percent of all illegal drug cases.

There is also reportedly a stunning correlation between crystal meth use, unsafe sexual practices, and sexually transmitted diseases ( STDs ) . According to information garnered from the Henry Ford Health System Web site, several recent studies from San Francisco document the link between crystal meth use and unsafe sex.

One study found that 16 percent of gay and bisexual men used crystal meth the last time they had anal sex; the users were twice as likely as others to not use condoms during receptive anal sex. The same study found that gay men who visited a health clinic were twice as likely to be infected with the AIDS virus—and almost five times as likely to be diagnosed with syphilis—if they had recently used the illegal drug. Another study reported that 17.4 percent of gay and bisexual men who visited an STD clinic had used crystal meth within the past four weeks.

Research in Seattle suggests that gay and bisexual crystal meth users are three to four times more likely to be infected with HIV than other gay and bisexual men.

So addictive

Part of the problem is that crystal meth is relatively inexpensive to make and the profits can be huge. 'People can take the right ingredients and make a good amount for about $250 and then turn around and sell it for up to $18,000,' Stasch told Windy City Times.

Another problem is that the high is intense and long-lasting—sometimes stretching for days. A euphoria that intense and long can easily lure vulnerable people to destruction. According to CrystalRecovery.com, the chemical rush is equivalent to 600 times the normal amount of dopamine and norepinepherine released into the body naturally when people feel good.

'There's a guy who I arrested [ recently ] ,' 23rd District officer Nenad Markovich told Windy City Times during a Feb. 8 talk. 'We executed a search warrant on him about eight months ago; he had a residence then. Due to his use, he lost his place—but every little bit of money he finds goes to getting more crystal. It just kills me.'

What is even worse is that sometimes users combine meth with a sexual enhancement drug such as Viagra. What happens is that the user can have sex for hours or days at a time—being involved in unsafe practices all the while.

Winding up with an STD is only one potential side effect of meth use. Among the plethora of other damaging results the drug can cause are rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, stroke, inflammation of the heart lining, hyperthermia ( elevated body temperature ) , convulsions, and death. Users can also experience paranoia, anorexia, irritability, and physical aggression.

The potential for addiction often leads people to wonder if there can be such a thing as a recreational meth user ( as opposed to a chronic one ) . According to Williams, data recently presented by Haymarket Center clinical director Dan Lustig show that one may be a casual user—but not for long.

'Current scientific studies show that crystal meth damages a person brain so quickly and permanently that recreational use is short-term at best,' she said.

Branch, while stating a different perspective, expressed the hope that people can be helped at different stages. 'Hopefully, we can stage interventions at different points; there may be people who are just starting to use, people who are feeling that they're slipping, and people who've lost everything. I do believe that we have to be responsive to where people are.'

Battle plans

Things have gotten to the point where community leaders feel that a multi-pronged approach is necessary to combat the epidemic.

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago hosted a forum of activists and community leaders Feb. 22, with Ald. Tom Tunney and representatives from AFC, the Chicago Department of Public Health, Center on Halsted, Test Positive Aware Network, Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, Jelani, Haymarket, Chicago House, Vital Bridges, Steamworks, Task Force Prevention, University of Illinois School of Public Health, South Side Help Center, Greg Harris from Ald. Mary Ann Smith's office. Media representatives were allowed in but the meeting was off the record—it was a brainstorming session to decide the next steps in a comprehensive approach to combatting the epidemic.

The gay media have run anti-meth campaigns in the past year, and Windy City Times has featured several cover stories on the drug's destruction.

Lora Branch is involved in social marketing programs to help battle the problem. Michael Bauer suggested at the meeting that he knows funders who would help underwrite a massive educational campaign.

Branch said one of the city's approaches will involve a video that will train service providers. 'This video is targeting substance abuse treatment providers who may not be sensitive to the needs of LGBT individuals. It's basic information about our community and needs; it also shows how providers can be helpful and how they cannot. Within the video, there's also a [ brief ] description of the effect crystal meth has had on the LGBT community. Braden Berkey from Howard Brown [ Health Center ] addresses the problem from a clinical perspective, but we also have a person in recovery who tells what [ addiction ] was like.' In addition, Branch said that an accompanying press release and discussion guide are in the works.

Branch also said a comprehensive report will be released soon. ( It is currently in the final editing stages. ) 'This document discusses meetings we've had about these issues; it also talks about training, policy, and resources ˆ and crystal meth is a big piece of that.'

Interestingly, the approach to market the problem with meth use will mirror the tactics used with Chicago's Syphilis Elimination Task Force ( SETF ) . The SETF campaign has employed everything from public transportation advertisements to a Web site ( www.GetTestedChicago.com ) . The result has been that the number of syphilis cases has decreased in Chicago, while cases have risen elsewhere in the country.

'We definitely plan to replicate the methodology used with the Task Force campaign,' Branch said. 'We'll be doing social marketing campaigns and bringing people together to plan events and get ideas. There will also be a web site.'

Dr. Will Wong of the Chicago Department of Public Health has several ideas about getting the word out about meth. 'We can educate health providers and staff members about methamphetamines; that will be key in dealing with the problem. We can also educate the general public about the dangers of [ the drug ] , such as the link to various STDs. We can also support organizations, such as Test Positive Aware Network and Haymarket Center, that supply treatment services for crystal meth and other drugs.'

Aligned with Downstate

A unique development that has resulted from expansive meth use is an alliance ( of sorts ) between Chicago's LGBT community and downstate Illinois legislators. The bond is primarily the outcome of the spread of meth from rural to urban regions. ' [ Meth ] has historically been produced in rural areas. It's been a much bigger problem in Downstate areas and it's potentially going to be a huge problem in Chicago unless we do something quick, smart, and organized on the supply and demand sides,' said Mark Ishaug, executive director of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

Williams echoed Ishaug's remark: 'It starts in rural areas because it's harder to detect the [ pungent ] smell and not as many people get hurt if there's an explosion. Then, the transportation and the making of meth spreads to urban areas.'

In response to the situation downstate, legislators in that region have decided to attempt to push two bills through the General Assembly. The bills, HB0662 and SB0107, would amend the Illinois Controlled Substances Act and the Methamphetamine Manufacturing Chemical Retail Sale Control Act by making a mixture containing any detectable quantity of pseudoephedrine ( a key meth ingredient ) to be an illegal substance. Should the measures pass, people would have a much harder time manufacturing and dealing meth—both downstate and in Chicago.

Part II will look at local resources for crystal meth users and those concerned about them.


This article shared 5783 times since Wed Mar 2, 2005
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

WORLD Eswatini ruling, Toronto deaths, Greece, blood donations 2022-05-15
- The High Court in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) rejected an appeal for legal recognition by the local LGBTQ+-rights group Eswatini Sexual & Gender Minorities, citing "laws … prevailing in the kingdom" ...


Gay News

Judge blocks part of Alabama law criminalizing care for trans youth 2022-05-14
- On May 13, U.S. District Judge Liles Burke blocked part of an Alabama law that made it a felony to prescribe gender-affirming puberty blockers and hormones to transgender minors, USA Today reported. ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Dr. David Ostrow dies at 74 2022-05-14
- Longtime researcher Dr. David Gene Ostrow, of Chicago, died unexpectedly on Feb. 16 at home. He was 74. The cause of death was end-stage renal disease, according to the Tribute Archive website. Ostrow was born on ...


Gay News

Pro-choice coalition to rally May 14 in Chicago's Union Park 2022-05-13
-- From a press release - 'Rally for Abortion Justice,' part of a nationwide 'Bans Off Our Bodies' day of action will takes place in Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St. on Saturday, May 14 at 9:30 a.m. The crowd may be 25,000 strong according to organizers. ...


Gay News

Judge: Dallas hospital must start gender-affirming treatment for trans youth 2022-05-12
- In Texas, Dallas County Judge Melissa Bellan temporarily removed all barriers for transgender youth seeking medical treatments from Children's Medical Center Dallas—providing a major win for doctors fighting to restore ...


Gay News

Dance for Life returns to Auditorium 2022-05-12
-- From a press release - Chicago Dancers United (CDU), which supports the health and wellness of Chicago's professional dance community, announces the program for its 31st annual fundraiser, Dance for Life 2022, which takes place Saturday, August 13 at 6 p.m. ...


Gay News

U.S. COVID-19 death toll exceeds 1 million 2022-05-12
- One million Americans have now died from the coronavirus, according to an announcement President Joe Biden made May 12, according to ABC News. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 is now equivalent to the population ...


Gay News

U.S. Senate Republicans and one Democrat block abortion-protection bill 2022-05-11
- On May 11, the U.S. Senate failed to advance a Democrat-led bill that would enshrine broad protections for legal abortion nationwide—a vote triggered by a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that indicates Roe v. Wade will ...


Gay News

HRC calls for passage of the Women's Health Protection Act 2022-05-11
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, joined a growing number of organizations calling for the ...


Gay News

Running squad 'Team to End AIDS' calls for participants to raise funds 2022-05-10
-- From a press release - (Chicago, IL) Over the last 19 years, TEAM TO ENDS AIDS (T2)—the only HIV charity fundraising marathon team in the Midwest—has raised more than $13 million for HIV/AIDS awareness and direct support for those living with ...


Gay News

Lightfoot, City Clerk Valencia announce partnership with UN Women 2022-05-10
-- From a press release - CHICAGO — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and City Clerk Anna Valencia announced a partnership with UN Women's Global Flagship Program, Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces. The initiative responds to sexual violence against women and girls ...


Gay News

Lightfoot announces a 'Justice for All Pledge' based on equity and access 2022-05-09
-- From a press release - CHICAGO — Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot joined reproductive justice leaders to announce the Justice For All Pledge, in response to the leaked draft opinion by the majority of the Supreme Court of the United States ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Rainbow flagpole, Washington Blade, Don Lemon, Black leaders 2022-05-08
- Four years after the Trump Administration abruptly nixed plans to bring a rainbow flag to federal land adjacent to NYC's Christopher Park, the Biden Administration is planning to install a permanent flagpole at the park, Gay ...


Gay News

COVID Indoor masking 'strongly recommended' for Chicago as numbers rise 2022-05-06
- With COVID-19 cases continuing to gradually increase, Cook County and the City of Chicago moved from "Low" into the "Medium" COVID-19 Community Level, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced in a press release. In ...


Gay News

Members of the Jane Collective abortion underground to reunite for 'The Janes' screening May 19 2022-05-05
-- From a press release - CHICAGO, Illinois — In the wake of the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion set to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Doc10 today announced that original Jane Collective members will reunite for the ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS






Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.