Dieting with Meth

When I was much younger, my sister Maria would announce to the family every Sunday night that on Monday she was going to put the die in “Diet”. This declaration was usually made after a weekend long binge, eating cake, cookies, bacon or too much homemade bread.

Growing up my sisters and I struggled with weight, and it wasn’t until I moved out of my parent’s house that I learned to regulate what I put into my mouth. At 5’7” I maxxed out at nearly 200 pounds before I decided to learn the truth behind nutrition and weight loss.

Being gay only makes matters worse. Once I moved to Chelsea, I realized almost immediately that looking a certain way mattered more than what I did for a living. Working out and dieting became a necessity.

As a new gay “adolescent” I stumbled through this world and even meandered into the gay party circuit – a subculture that thrives on dance music, sex and drugs.

circuit party 2

Cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine and crystal methamphetamine are the drugs of choice for avid party goers. Ecstasy and GHB are used most often for their euphoric effects while crystal meth is taken to maintain arousal so that party goers can last long hours without sleep. Meth is also the drug of choice for men who surf the internet in search of sex, and it has become synonymous with unprotected sex and HIV.


I have been treating patients for meth addiction my whole career, and just when I thought I had heard every scenario, a new one recently took me by complete surprise.

“I just need to lose ten more pounds before my high school reunion this weekend,” said Tom during a physical exam.

“That’s impossible,” I said. “It’s Tuesday. You can’t lose ten pounds in three days.”

“Wanna bet?” responded Tom striking a pose and placing a very shaky hand on his hip. “It’s easy. I’ve been sorting crystal. How do you think I lost the first ten pounds?”

“Are you insane? How long have you been using crystal?”

“About a month. First, my boyfriend and I did it for fun one weekend, and then I noticed on Monday my clothes fit perfectly. It was fabulous. So I thought if I could lose a few pounds in just a couple of days, imagine what I could lose using crystal for a week. Then the next thing I knew I was using meth for a month and bam! I’m wearing skinny jeans.”

“I don’t know what to say. I think the meth has gone to your brain.”

Truth be told, Tom’s rational is not unique. CBS News ran a story about a group of young girls who took meth in order to lose weight before their prom. This proved disastrous when the girls became addicted.  

Gay men and young girls battle with eating disorders by using crash dieting, starvation and vomiting all to lose weight. In addition to fitting into their clothes, these individuals can expect to lose much more like, enamel from their teeth due to the vomit’s acidic content, hair loss from vitamin deficiency, and a decrease in lean muscle mass secondary to starvation. Adding crystal meth to the mix shifts this crisis into another dimension.

I won’t burden you with the reasons why you shouldn’t use meth as a dieting aid. I don’t believe in diet pills, crash dieting or starvation as productive, healthy ways to shed pounds. I do believe that long term  meth use will cause you to lose something more precious than weight, hair or enamel. Researchers have shown atrophy of the brain secondary to long term meth use. Bet you didn’t count on losing weight there?

So you see, my sister was only being dramatic when she said she was putting the die in “diet”. I guess Tom took a more literal approach.

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