OPRAH WINFREY once devoted an edition of her afternoon show to methamphetamine. Addicted to Meth featured the stories of several recovering abusers, including Jay...
AT 25, Jay [right] was a young gay man living a fast-paced life in New York City working in corporate real estate. Devastated by a bad relationship, he turned to crystal meth to deal with his depression. He took his first hit in a nightclub, and says the drug instantly made him feel like a rock star. At his worst, he used the drug daily, spending $25,000 in less than a year to feed his addiction.
Experts say crystal meth erases inhibitions, increases sexual appetites, and gives addicts the energy to have sex for days. To satisfy his meth-induced sexual cravings, Jay would frequent all-male bathhouses. "These bathhouses are dark, cavernous, multi-level facilities," Jay says. "They have larger dark rooms with just platforms and benches and chairs where you can't really see who you're having sex with. You're groping and grabbing and fondling one another in the dark."
Whether in bathhouses or hotel rooms, Jay says his only concern was finding drugs and sex. "The whole idea behind sex parties is extended periods of time in someone's home, a hotel room, and you're walking around naked. … I would be so high it would be nothing for me to be with 15, 20, 25 men in a night."
Experts claim that crystal meth can dramatically increase reckless sexual behavior and has led to rising rates of HIV in gay and bisexual men. Jay, who became HIV positive while addicted to meth, agrees. "It was never part of my agenda to practice safe sex. Wearing condoms is the rare thing when you're high on crystal meth."
As the drug ravaged Jay's body and spirit, he decided to end it all and jumped headfirst 32 feet into a construction pit… After hitting rock-bottom and surviving his suicide attempt, Jay says he turned his life around. When he appeared on the show, he shared that he's been off meth for one-and-a-half-years. How did he finally quit?
"I think that it's a combination of going to [12-step] meetings every day," Jay says. "Working with a sponsor … Telling the therapist and myself the truth … Doing the work that is required to face the ugliness of myself. I mean, I was the most self-absorbed, bitchy, materialistic little queen that you could possibly want to meet."
Today, Jay is working to bring education and awareness to the gay community—a mission he says helps keep him sober. And for those battling addiction, Jay offers a hopeful message. "Find somebody who has been sober for two years and get them to start a 12-step meeting," he says. "Take care of ourselves and start loving one another." •