What is crystal meth?
Crystal meth (or Tina as it is sometimes known) is increasingly commonly used by gay men for sex. It’s a powerful stimulant which keeps you awake for a very long time and makes you feel all-powerful, very horny and highly compulsive. If you are not focused on sex, it can make you extremely focused on other things, to the point where even taking your computer apart can seem like the most important thing in the world. Tina is made up of speed and various household cleaning products and comes in the shape of ice-like crystals or as a powder. It is usually smoked through a pipe, snorted, eaten or injected. The effects can last between two hours and two days.

How does crystal meth affect my health?
The main reason why Tina is so popular with gay men for sex is the fact that it makes people feel really horny. It can make you feel like you are the hottest porn stud on the planet for days on end. Sounds perfect but, unfortunately, Tina is also known to significantly reduce your inhibitions which can lead you to have unsafe sex and expose you to STIs, including HIV and hep C. If you share needles to inject Tina you also risk injecting HIV or hep C directly into your bloodstream. Because Tina keeps you awake for many hours, you can experience mild hallucinations or think you hear whispers which can become more profound the more regularly you take the drug. Tina withdrawal symptoms can include short-lived psychosis (a few days after you’ve stopped using), insomnia, irritable moods and depression. It can also have a negative impact on your immune system and metabolism. Often users get a sensation of insects crawling on their skin and can scratch their skin so hard that they end up wounding themselves. 

Can I mix crystal meth with alcohol and other drugs?
Many people mix Tina with alcohol and other drugs with few side effects but you have to be aware that the more stimulants you take the more pressure you are putting on your heart. Some people may experience panic attacks whilst others may have no adverse effects at all. If you are mixing Tina with G, you could be awake for a very long time, become tired and find it harder to dose your G correctly. This can lead to overdoses. If you are HIV-positive you may also forget to take your medication if you get too high, which can impact on your health and also make you more infectious to your sexual partners. Getting high can also affect the choices you make around your sexual behaviour.

Is crystal meth illegal?
Yes, crystal is a Class A drug and if caught with it on your person, you may be prosecuted.

What else is Crystal Meth known as?
Crystal meth is also known as Tina, meth, ice, Christine, yaba, fire, quartz, Hillbilly crack and cristy.

What do I need to know if I am planning to take crystal meth?

Crystal meth is highly addictive, but many people who become addicted are not 'hooked' immediately. Many people use it periodically for a long time before they notice that addiction to it has crept up and taken hold of them.

If you are planning to take Tina, it’s important to know that it is a very powerful drug which is likely to fog your judgement. At the very least it is advisable to set yourself some boundaries before you start your bender and think about what you want to do, how long you want to stay awake for and what your limits are with regard to safe sex. You can refer to these once you are in the grip of the high.

Tina can blur the choices we make around sex making us forget to do it safely, or finding it harder to care in the heat of the moment. Every week clinics are filled with crystal meth users asking for PEP because they have had risky sex while high on Tina. If you choose to inject it, make sure you get clean needles and equipment and learn how to use these correctly. Using clean needles and equipment is important to protect yourself from HIV and hep C. All UK drug services are happy to provide advice as well as clean equipment. If you have shared needles with someone you suspect to be HIV-positive, it is advisable to visit your sexual health clinic or A&E for a course of PEP.

If you are using Crystal regularly, take calcium and multi-vitamin supplements and keep an eye on your body weight. Sometimes the Tina high can get so strong that some people start to fetishise things like mixing blood or semen, so once again make sure you set your boundaries before you get high. If you have had a slip up during a Tina bender and think you may need PEP after a session, make sure you inform yourself about how and where you can access this within 72 hours of potential exposure to HIV. You can get more information about this in our HIV, AIDS & Safer Sex section.

Staying awake for two or more days may cause a drug-induced psychosis that can last up to 10 days after stopping use of Tina. In some cases, these symptoms can include feeling unsafe, watched, followed, paranoid, hearing voices or experiencing visual hallucinations.

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