Study contradicts myths about meth

Dylan Vox | December 05, 2006

GLMA Executive Director Joel Ginsberg
LOS ANGELES — To coincide with the American National Methamphetamine Awareness Day, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) released a report that contradicts the widely held perception that addiction to crystal methamphetamine is essentially untreatable, which is a misunderstanding shared by some health professionals.

GLMA is the worlds largest and oldest association of LGBT health care professionals. It was founded in 1981, by the American Association of Physicians for Human Rights with the mission of ensuring equality in health care for LGBT individuals and providing assistance for health care professionals.

GLMA achieves its goals by using medical expertise in professional education, public policy work, patient education and referrals, and the promotion of research.

In the summer of 2006, GLMA undertook a project to investigate the causes and extent of methamphetamine use among men who have sex with men, options for treating methamphetamine dependence, and how best to get meth-dependent gay men into appropriate addiction treatment.

The report, entitled Breaking the Grip: Treating Crystal Methamphetamine Addiction Among Gay and Bisexual Men, highlights specific treatment strategies identified as useful by clinicians and researchers. The report also identifies a need for more treatment programs tailored to gay and bisexual men, who use meth at a rate ten times higher than the general population. The purpose of the study was to provide guidance to healthcare providers, medical and public health institutions, and policymakers about how best to respond to the issue, and, more generally, to comment on media and general societal responses.

"We need to get past the myth that crystal meth addiction can't be treated successfully," said GLMA Executive Director Joel Ginsberg. "Certainly there are barriers to successful treatment. Overcoming addiction is difficult, treatment options aren't perfect, and we need more programs tailored for our community. But it's important for people to know that gay and bisexual men addicted to crystal meth can get better and that they are not a lost cause."

GLMA's team collected data for the Breaking the Grip project by examining the peer-reviewed, scholarly literature on the subject and by conducting eight focus groups in five cities where crystal meth use is thought to be widespread. Focus group participants included physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists working in the field of addiction, researchers in the fields of epidemiology, pharmacology and clinical psychology, and health policy experts. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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