Harm reduction

Harm Reduction & Overdose Prevention: Crystal Meth

Lots of us use crystal meth with sex: sometimes it helps make us more aroused, and sometimes we use it during sex work. It can increase our confidence and lower our inhibitions. Some of us use crystal meth to stay awake at night if we’re out on the street, and some of us use crystal meth for fun.

Safer sex on crystal meth

Safer sex, whatever that means to us, may be more difficult to think about and plan for when we use crystal meth. Crystal meth may make us feel less sensitive to pain, which can lead to more aggressive sex for longer amounts of time. We may also have more impulsive or riskier sex than we might otherwise have if we’re using crystal meth.

  • Have condoms and lube on you – a variety of different types and sizes – if sex might be part of your day or night.
  • PrEP is a way to prevent HIV infection, and it’s something you don’t have to worry about during sex. Talk to a trans-friendly healthcare provider with the TransCare team at Magnet if you have questions about this way to prevent HIV.
  • Find trans-friendly and inclusive sexual health and STI services with the TransCare team at Magnet. Getting tested for STIs on a regular basis is a good idea if you’re having sex with new or multiple people. You can take Doxy PEP to prevent STIs.
  • Put your needs first during sex, even if you’re being paid for it. Negotiate first. It’s OK to turn someone down, slow things down, or stop if you want.

Safer use & overdose prevention

There are some serious things that can happen to your body when taking crystal meth. It is possible to overdose on crystal meth.

Overheating, or “hyperthermia” can be deadly. If you notice someone overheating, get them to slow down and stop agitated movements and try to cool down with ice packs, cool water, and a fan. Make sure they are drinking water or a sports drink with electrolytes so they don’t dehydrate. Place cool, wet cloths on the person’s body.

If a person using meth has a seizure, help them lie down and put something soft under their head. Turn them to their side, and protect the person’s head and body. Call 911, especially if the person does not regain consciousness, isn’t breathing, or if they have multiple seizures.

Cardiac arrest (heart attack) can also be related to drugs including meth. Symptoms can include pressure in the chest, shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, or discomfort in other areas of the body. Call 911 and explain the person’s symptoms.

We use the term “overamping” to describe what can happen if you take too much.

Overamping means a lot of things to a lot of people. Sometimes it is physical, when our bodies don’t feel right. Other times it is psychological, like paranoia, anxiety or psychosis — or a mixture of the two.

Overamping can happen for a lot of different reasons: you’ve been up for too long (sleep deprivation), your body is worn down from not eating or drinking enough water, you’re in a weird or uncomfortable environment, you did “one hit too many,” you mixed some other drugs with your speed that have sent you into a bad place — whatever the reason, it can be dangerous and scary to feel overamped.

Overamping can also feel like: extreme anxiety, panic, paranoia, hallucinations, agitation, aggressiveness, agitation, restlessness, irritability, hypervigilance, suspiciousness.

How to deal with overamping

First, make sure that the problem is not medical in nature (seizure, stroke, heart attack, overheating). If you or a friend is experiencing anxiety or other psychological symptoms of overamping, try some of the following things:

  • Drink water or a sports drink or pedialyte; eat some food
  • Use ice packs
  • Try to sleep
  • In the future, switch how you’re doing your speed; sometimes if you’re shooting, switching to smoking can help
  • Change your environment or the people you’re with
  • Do breathing or meditation exercises: Breath exercises that relieve anxiety & insomnia
  • Create physical contact, like massaging yourself or having someone else do it for you
  • Go walking, walking, walking — walk it off!
  • Take a cool shower or put cooling pads under your armpits or on their neck. Or pour cool water on your face.
  • Get some fresh air

Ways of using (+ harm reduction)

Smoking: The drug is heated in a glass pipe, bowl, or stem until it becomes a vapor. It’s then inhaled, and the vapor enters the blood stream via the lungs. It takes about 7 – 10 seconds to feel the effects, and the high is more intense than when swallowing or snorting. Wait some time to feel the effects. Don’t hold it in – it is not necessary to get high, and can damage your lungs. People with asthma, emphysema, or other lung problems can experience breathing difficulties and coughing. Before you smoke, it can be a good idea to decide how much you’re going to use–and then stick to that amount. It’s best to use your own pipe–try not to share with other people. Try to use pipes that don’t have any cracks or broken areas.

Injecting/slamming: The drug is injected directly into the veins with a needle and syringe. It takes about 15-30 seconds to feel the effects by injecting. Crystal meth won’t absorb through the muscle or skin, so injecting into the muscle (“muscling”) or under the skin (“skin popping”) is not recommended (you also may get abscesses injecting this way). Injecting is higher risk for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV if you share rigs with other people–so make sure you use a brand new needle/syringe and other supplies every time you inject, and don’t share with other people.

Booty bumping: The crystal is dissolved in water and a syringe without the needle is used to “bump” the solution into your butt. Or, you can push a small shard or fingertip covered in powdered crystal into your butt. Either way, the drug is absorbed by the blood vessels in the lining of your rectum (butt). It takes about 3-5 minutes to feel the effects. Don’t share booty bumping syringes, which could put you at risk of hepatitis, parasites, or other diseases. If you bottom after booty bumping, have your partner wear a condom since booty bumping can damage the membranes that line your rectum–increasing the risk of giving or getting STIs.

Snorting: This is often how people use crystal for the first time. The shards of crystal are chopped or crushed up into a powder, which is inhaled through a straw into the nose. Once inside the nose and sinuses, the drug is absorbed by the blood vessels. It takes about 3 – 5 minutes to feel the effects. Make sure you chop/crush the drug up into a fine powder! Chunks can hurt your nasal passages. Sharing straws can transmit germs and hepatitis C, so use your own straw if you’re using with other people. It’s best not to snort speed like it’s coke–try to lengthen the time between hits. At a certain point, snorting becomes ineffective because the nasal passages can’t absorb any more of the drug.

Hot railing: The tip of a short glass stem, or the middle of a longer stem, is heated until it’s red hot. The end of the stem is placed over a bump or line, and the heat vaporizes the speed. The vapor is inhaled through the nose. It takes about 7-10 seconds to feel the effects. Vapor can irritate your lungs and nasal passages. Be careful about burning yourself with the stem, and avoid sharing stems with other people.