Erik's Story

Over the last couple years, I’ve struggled with mental health and addiction issues, in particular, crystal meth. My experience isn’t unique. While fentanyl dominates the media discourse, meth-related overdose deaths increased 3.6-fold over 5 years to 2016 in the US. In Ontario from 2016 to 2017, there was a 22% increase in meth-related deaths. Of course, meth is so psychologically damaging that the second most common cause of death is “violent suicide”. But while meth in popular media is being promoted in a hetero-normative context by films such as Beautiful Boy and the public sees it largely as a problem affecting rural communities, in metropolitan areas meth is an epidemic in the gay community. Some estimates suggest up to 20% of gay men will try meth compared to 2-3% in the general population. It’s insane. The culture behind gay dating apps and its syndemic use with sex can only continue to perpetuate this issue. I did it so many times in secret before I realized it was an issue for me and I felt so much shame around the fact I was doing it to even talk to anyone in my life about it 😞. I’m finally in a place where I feel hopeful about my chances of living a healthy and happy life and I’m not looking back (4 months sober 🎉). I’m so grateful to my friends, to my family, to a more than supportive employer, and to my peers in the community who have been here to support me because I honestly wouldn’t be here without them. I’m done living a life of shame and hiding from the reality of my life. This is a big step for me on my journey towards authenticity. I just hope that we, as a community, can promote a culture of honest, open, judgement-free discussion around these issues so that people feel safe to share if they are struggling…

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