THEIR contemptuous disregard for the wellbeing of MSM in the face of all evidence may explain why AID$ Inc. organisations have allowed meth - a boon for those concerned chiefly with hitting HIV service user targets and maximising sales of AIDS meds - to become the new gay epidemic...
"Crystal has been so clearly linked to the spread of HIV and other STDs that a joint study by The University of California and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention stated in its conclusion that to successfully contain HIV, methamphetamine use must be reduced."
~ Dr Steven Lee [Overcoming Crystal Meth Addiction]
In 2003, many MSM sexual health agencies in the US were still in denial mode or simply indifferent to the meth threat, continuing to cling to myths like "crystal is no different to other drugs and should not be singled out for special attention" and "there is no correlation with HIV infection" - long since invalidated excuses to not inform their communities that meth is in fact the highest risk "wreckreational" substance ever while actively resisting taking action and withholding vital knowledge about its devastating, clinically researched and documented effects.
"Information is power, ignorance is impotence."
~ George Orwell
Even the word "proof" daubed in victims' blood on the walls of their gleaming office blocks would have done little to dispel AID$ Inc. USA's evasiveness in 2003 and prompt swift intervention. Instead, some agencies waited months, even years until their communities were visibly drowning in meth before stirring out of denial mode. Symptomatic of such arrogant, hierarchal institutions, it wasn't until the need to do something was too great to pretend otherwise that, from stage left, they could be seen to appear like knights in shining armour to try to dispel Tina's dark forces.
LIFE OR METH launched, in November 2002, as an antidote to the epidemic of callous complacency that engulfed gay America at the time; one that had enabled meth to become so ingrained into the fabric of gay communities in the metropolitan cities that everyone, it seemed, was using, and wherein to speak out against meth risked ridicule and even isolation from the "action".
"Harm reduction accepts and allows the continued and
unabated use of harmful substances and the loss of people cannot be recovered. At best, harm reduction is a halfway measure and half-hearted approach that invites deceit."
~ Alison Kogut [Deputy Press Secretary,
The US Office of National Drug Control Policy]
When it does, finally, accept there is a problem of near-Biblical proportions, AID$ Inc.'s bureaucratically ham-fisted response to the most incurable of addictions - for the majority of meth users who have limited or no control over their intake - is to preach harm reduction/ risk minimisation as a "one-size-fits-all" solution, notwithstanding the fact that harm reduction abjectly fails to target the symptoms at the heart of the problem and so they, the addiction and the cost to society persist.
By contrast, encouraging abstinence by targeting the underlying social and psychological issues that define a person's addiction is conclusively proven to be by far the most effective response where meth use is concerned, as demonstrated by the success rates of 12-step CMA support groups and, indeed, LIFE OR METH.
LIFE OR METH's own onsite surveys show that two-thirds of meth users accessing its raw information are "inspired" or "empowered" to abstain - an achievement far beyond the scope of harm reduction strategies which don't even begin to consider the profoundly complex reasons why MSM are predisposed to self-destructive behaviours in the first place; the therapeutic equivalent of applying an elastoplast to a haemorrhaging wound and the moral equivalent of handing out boxes of matches to every level of arsonist.
Knowledge and truth are the keys that awaken the meth abuser to the futility and helplessness of his situation, empowering him to confront and set free the demons that keep him ensnared in addiction.
This process enables the abuser to commence the process of healing while giving potential users the unvarnished facts from which to make informed choices whether or not to use meth in the first place. Indeed, the only graphic information you won't find on LIFE OR METH are titilating "harm reduction" statements like ACON's do-it-yourself booklet's "Crystal is used for a range of desired effects, including euphoria, increased libido, energy, increased alertness, reduced appetite, faster reaction time and feelings of increased physical strength" to "Top 10 slamming techniques" found on a well-known US harm reduction site alongside images of meth crystals and associated paraphernalia; approaches that serve only to trigger and encourage further usage.
Unquestionably, political correctness is the overriding crutch preventing bureaucratised AIDS agencies properly targeting those most vulnerable to HIV and correlated and causative health risks, thereby undermining public health. The PC sleight of hand enables them not to put out hardhitting prevention messages which, they claim, would make them be seen to offend or stigmatise HIVers and meth users. Instead, one-size-fits-all options - such as generic "safer sex" AIDS campaigns aimed at HIV- and HIV+ men alike and harm reduction strategies that target all meth users equally, regardless of their level of usage - are the spineless methods preferred by the PC AID$ Inc. lobby to "safeguard" public health, as they enable them to be seen to be addressing everyone while really benefitting only a few.
Umbrella strategies can only practically benefit the minority of occasional users who possess the strength of spirit to control and moderate their meth usage. Harm reduction, therefore - at least where meth is concerned - serves only to maintain and perpetuate meth's grip on the majority of dependent users who lack the motivation and self-will needed to manage their usage properly (separate studies by the University of NSW and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Australia, for example, jointly conclude that two-thirds of Sydney meth users are dependent).
Defending PC umbrella strategies, Russell Westacott, former associate director at New York's Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), rationalises in typically dispassionate AID$ Inc.-speak: "While meth use is problematic for some, the majority of users do not view their use as equating to death. Regardless of what some may think meth users should believe, any effective health promotion message needs to be reflective of realistic experiences." Westacott fails to mention that many self-proclaimed "moderate" and so-
called "functional users" are themselves in deep denial or masking the true extent of their problem.
Watching the inner light of someone you love or care for slowly fade, flicker and die as they spiritually disconnect and become an empty, cadaverous shell is a gut-wrenching journey, and justifies for many the equation meth=death.
I named this site LIFE OR METH without pausing for one moment to consider whether it would be deemed responsible or appropriate, least of all by the PC lobby who don't know how to call a spade a spade, believe up is down, left is right and 2 + 2 = 5. The intention was merely to imply that when deciding to use crystal, it really is a choice between conscious living or commencing down a long, dark, increasingly manic path into the unknown, or death to some.
It is infinitely more irresponsible, surely, to infer - as Westacott does in the absence of providing an alternative solution to his personal conundrum - that those susceptible to meth addiction should be sacrificed on the alter of political correctness lest those who don't regard their intake as a problem - or who are able to moderate their usage - fail to identify with hardhitting campaigns, or perceive them as being judgmental or, (horror of horrors), politically incorrect.
Notwithstanding the fact that, like HIVers reacting to hardhitting HIV campaigns, "casual" meth users simply wouldn't care less how prevention campaigns come across because, a) such campaigns are not aimed at them but at warning potential users, and b) they don't see themselves as having a problem, period, even though crystal adversely impacts on all users - with each exposure causing a gradual and lasting change in the circuitry and functioning of brain cells and, particularly if used with other drugs, can induce fatal cardiac arrest - AID$ Inc.s simplified response to a deeply profound spiritual disease afflicting a generation of gay men has been akin to flicking token droplets of water in the direction of a raging inferno.
"Even occasional use of crystal methamphetamine is associated with multiple health and social risks, including a negative impact on families as well as straining emergency departments and law enforcement resources."
~ Elias Zerhouni [Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse]
To finally respond to crystal meth after years of denial with campaigns that glamorise the problem rather than stigmatise it, or with one-size-fits-all user-enabling handbooks that advise you, of all things, to "keep a spare bank note handy" is a devastating betrayal of those in dire need of an empowering lead; inflicts a tidal wave of grief and suffering on their families and loved ones; places an intolerable burden on health authorities, police departments and the prison service; blights environments where meth use is rife; and keeps HIV infection rates spiraling ever upwards. In short, a treasonous dereliction of duty.
"GMHC is saying 'This stuff is bad, but if you’re gonna do it, do it right... That's analogous to saying, 'Teenagers are going to drink beer no matter what we do. Might as well tell 'em where to get the best fake ID'
So afraid are they of being seen as judgmental, GMHC would rather inadvertently promote meth use than say to at-risk members 'Don’t touch this illegal substance!'”
~ Katherine Ernst [City Journal]
Harm reduction - or harm maintenance as it is dubbed in 12-step circles - like ineffective HIV campaigns and legitimised sex-on-premises venues, fails to address the root of the crystal meth problem and so serves to exacerbate it and validate AID$ Inc.'s existence even more because, rather than empower users to abstain, keeps them embalmed in their suffering, and AID$ Inc. are therefore forever more implored to "Please save us!!" Like the continuing spread of HIV and the corresponding demand for its services, meth promotes victimhood and helplessness and emphasises a perceived need for AID$ Inc.'s eternal presence while justifying its own demands for yet more funding to confront a problem which it ignored and allowed to manifest. [See "Harm Reduction"]
Harm reduction when applied to safe sex may have helped stem HIV's spread in the late 1980s/early1990s, but it's a strategy that has proven disastrous where meth is concerned, even if its advocates will insist that their approach "engages" those who practice risky drug or sexual behaviour "where they are" in a manner that they maintain is "less judgmental and more effective". GMHC official Robert Bank states that his agency's meth programs have "transformed" lives and moved clients "from a place of dependence to a place of self-efficacy", but he has to say that; in 2007 GMHC received over US$30 million in funding - a vast chunk of that from the US government/taxpayer alone - and is accountable to those who, naturally, demand that their money is being properly spent...
"For the last fiscal year available...GMHC received $28.3 million in contributions, including $5.2m in government grants. GMHC spent that year $5.1m in fundraising expenses, which is 21.4% of their budget. They have a full time public relations and media research staff... Within the organisation they live like royalty. GMHC owns two office buildings and occupies three others. They have a staff of hundreds. Can you just imagine what could be done with this huge amount of money for truly honest health information? Now the GMHC leaders are weeping that the CDC is reporting large decreases in AIDS deaths. They are lamenting the news. Could it be because their funding is based upon AIDS deaths?"
~ Michael Verney-Elliott [Continuum Magazine]
The above was written not in 2008 but 1996, when HIV infections were bottoming out and as combination therapies were being introduced to propel GMHC to even greater financial heights... [For GMHC's 2007 fiscal report, click on GMHC PDF]
"GMHC was built by gay men like me when working there was a reaction to a crisis, not a career option... Frankly, it's high time GMHC was held accountable to the community it purports to serve."
~ Andrew Miller [Gay City News]
"There hasn't been innovation, there hasn't been piloting of new intervention programs, there hasn't been the kind of reinforcement that we saw in the early days of the epidemic. People just stopped doing it. I absolutely believe that our AIDS organisations have neglected gay men."
~ Spencer Cox [The Medius Institute, New York]
The US Centre for Disease Control reported a 48% surge in HIV rates between 2005-2006, largely driven by MSM; figures described as a "catastrophe" by Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation - "These numbers underscore the wholesale failure of US HIV prevention efforts" - and representing a $36 billion cost for providing lifetime care and treatment for the 52,878 newly infected...