He looked the part of a friendly professor -- dressed in a snazzy sports coat with lavender necktie and a neatly trimmed gray beard. And yet, Dr. David Fawcett’s message was not exactly what one would consider pretty. Bottom line: There is a perfect storm forming among gay men and it starts with meth.
A room full of people listened to Fawcett read from his new book, “Lust, Men, and Meth: A Gay Man’s Guide to Sex and Recovery” on Thursday, Dec. 17 at Pride Center in Wilton Manors. A Fort Lauderdale based sex therapist and psychotherapist, Fawcett is a leading specialist in issues of addictions in gay men’s health and HIV/AIDS.
His book comes at a time when health care professionals are seeing an alarming resurgence of methamphetamine use among gay men.
“Dr. Fawcett is a treasure and a valuable resource for our community,” said Kristofer Fegenbush, Pride Center Chief Operations Officer, who introduced Fawcett to the audience.
In the book, Fawcett examines the seductive appeal of methamphetamine among gay men, the drug’s impact on high-risk behaviors and sexual desires while also outlining a path to restoration of sex and intimacy. That restoration, Fawcett says, typically takes up to 18 months once a user has kicked the habit.
“This is a must read book for someone who is looking to shake the grip of meth,” said Adam, who declined to give his last name, but said he was attending the book reading as a recovering meth and sex addict. “What he says is true. It takes a long time to get your sex drive back after meth. It’s a struggle.”
The reason for such a long return to natural sexual experiences is the neurotoxicity of meth. The drug, Fawcett said, destroys dopamine receptors in the brain leaving it impaired for many months after the user quits.
“To restore the brain’s wiring takes time,” Fawcett said.
Meth, Fawcett says, affects the brain’s limbic system, an area that produces desires. Meth increases dopamine levels in the brain, four times more than that of cocaine, and can ultimately leave the user void of empathy.
Fawcett read a passage from the book in which a young man experiences psychosis and paranoia during a meth binge and abruptly abandons his apartment, quits eating and moves into a gay bathhouse. This problem is happening all across America, Fawcett said, and is often associated with porn addiction, causing further sexual disorders.
“Meth and porn go hand-in-hand,” Fawcett said. “What’s exciting today becomes boring tomorrow which leads people to get into darker more dangerous things.”
Compounding matters is how insurance companies dismiss meth addiction and refuse to cover any costs for detox treatment. This situation, Fawcett said, has led to what many in health care circles have termed “Suicide Tuesdays” – where a meth binge ends in the most tragic way.
Despite the horrors, there is hope and Fawcett goes to great lengths in the book to outline recovery steps. Taking a break from sex all together, avoiding alcohol and drugs, deleting sex apps and online profiles, changing phone numbers and emails and eliminating the hook-up mentality are necessary steps, Fawcett said.
“Try dating and going out for coffee to get to know someone,” he said.