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Why “Meth Equals Death’ Isn’t Working as Drug Policy

Crystal meth: The myths and realities of chemsex in the queer community—BY JONATHAN VALELLY, NICK BOYCE, ZOË DODD, ALEXANDER MCCLELLAND, MIKIKI

Now Magazine FEBRUARY 23, 2019

As a group of queer drug users, service providers and activists working with people who use drugs, including crystal meth, years of lived experience and work in our communities has shown us that this kind of drug prevention messaging doesn’t work – and in fact has unintended negative consequences like reinforcing stigma, shame and silence.

In his recent article in NOW, queer educator and activist Tim McCaskell suggests that there is an epidemic of silence around the increase in queer people experimenting with crystal meth during sex.

…Activists, users and experts across Toronto have been working tirelessly over the years to create effective and nuanced responses to meth.

…Effective prevention is about building community and self-worth, addressing mental health and housing and working through trauma. It’s about promoting well-being and preventing folks from being left without resources and support.

Learn more: The Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance, Ontario Harm Reduction Network, Community Health Centres, The 519, And CAMH Rainbow Services

[F]ear will only encourage silence and silence equals the death of supportive and safe spaces, honest conversations, information sharing and compassion and understanding – all of the things needed to ensure effective interventions to pragmatically, non-judgmentally and holistically address meth use in our community.


From Vice: Changing the Way We Think About Meth //

Last year, he was paired with a subsidized housing worker in Toronto who suggested he attend a drop-in program at St. Stephen’s Community House in Kensington Market specifically for people who use crystal meth.

…The program is one of a number of recent harm reduction initiatives around Toronto specifically dedicated to meth as a response to reports of rising meth use—and meth-related harms—especially among youth in their late teens and early 20s. This includes the Crystal Meth Project at St. Stephen’s, innovative medical treatments, a bicycle workshop, and education efforts within LGBTQ+ communities.

St. Stephen’s launched the Crystal Meth Project as a pilot program in December of last year.

“Focusing on crystal meth is the revolutionary part of it,” Casey Schapel, the project’s coordinator, told VICE. The program is capped at 20 participants and case management is tailored to the needs of people who are street-involved whose substance of choice is meth. Participants are linked with social services, basic harm reduction supplies—sterile syringes, pipes, etc.—and also food, companionship, and a place to take a quick rest.


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