We all know that parties come hand-in-hand with the holiday season. This for the most part can be a good thing. But there is a community of people where this breeds a high risk of harm. Gay men have a sub-culture of strong partying that includes high drug use. The holiday season exacerbates this potentially toxic party scene. Studies have shown that, when compared with the general population, gay men are more likely to:
- Use alcohol and drugs,
- Have higher rates of substance abuse,
- Not withhold from alcohol and drug use, and
- Continue heavy drinking into later life.
This can be attributed to homophobia, discrimination, or violence they may have experienced given their sexual orientation. Many illicit drugs are used during, for example, “circuit parties,” in which gay men from various geographical locales congregate in one large metropolitan community over an extended 2- or 3-day period for the purposes of intense partying and sexual activity. The holiday season is a time when these types of parties are in full swing. At these parties, and others that gay men frequent, there is strong pressure to participate in heavy drug use. The Los Angeles Times reported that the frequency of methamphetamine use is twenty times greater among homosexuals than in the general population. Falling prey to these party scenes can have serious consequences well beyond the holiday season. If not already, drug addiction is a strong possible outcome. So what can gay men do?
- Gay men must be careful about their participation in these parties. The social pressures once there can be very high.
- Obviously the safest bet is abstinence but temptation can be very persuasive. So if you do go, set yourself up for success.
- Set your own limits and stick to them. If you notice the influence is becoming too much then leave the party.
- No party is worth relapse, addiction, or worse.
Try to make positive choices this holiday season. If possible reach out to family and friends. They are there to support you. If you are already in a drug treatment program, reach out to your support group. It is important to make sure your treatment program understands and addresses the issues you face as a gay man. The holidays can be a very vulnerable time for gay men. Make sure you have a plan that is going to support your success.