ACT can help you make positive changes regarding substance use, whether you’re
HIV-negative or HIV-positive.
ACT can help you better understand how using substances impacts your mental and sexual health, and how your mental health can be related to substance use. See below for more information on our free programs and services that can help you make informed decisions and positive changes in how you use substances.
Using drugs and alcohol (substances) can affect your relationship with HIV in several ways:
- if you’re living with HIV, it can be tough to remember to take your meds every day.
- if you inject drugs, sharing needles or equipment can put you at higher risk for HIV and Hep C. If you snort drugs, sharing bumpers or straws can put you at higher risk for Hep C. Same goes for sharing pipe kits. Find out where to access new needles, pipe/stem and snorting kits in Toronto here
- alcohol and other drugs can make it hard to use a condom every time you have sex, or to take PrEP everyday, which can increase your risk for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- drugs and alcohol can affect your decision making, like remembering to use condoms or to take PrEP. They can also affect your sex drive (libido), making it difficult to stay hard, or making you so horny you get lost in the moment and forget to use condoms.
If you are looking to make a change in how you use drugs and alcohol, such as use more safely, we can help. Talking with a professional counsellor at ACT is a good place to start. Learn more about how you can talk to one, whether at our offices or out in the community, like at a coffee shop or a bathhouse, by clicking here.
For more information about ‘party drugs’ check out Toronto Vibe. Toronto Vibe is a project of ACT that provides accessible information about common substances you might use or find at a party. It also includes information about how these substances interact with HIV medication.
Substance use, mental health and HIV risk
If you think drugs or alcohol are negatively impacting your sex-life, we offer services that can help support you, and that can give you strategies that other gay, bi, queer and trans guys have found useful to help you reduce your the risks, to help you regain control and have a more enjoyable sex life:
- SPUNK! is a harm reduction support group that helps gay, bi, queer men make positive life changes around substance use , including crystal meth and alcohol
- or, speak to an ACT counsellor today
Programs for gay, bisexual and queer men, including trans guys, HIV negative and guys living with HIV, and racialized guys
Gay Men’s Group Counselling – addressing mental health and substance use
ACT offers group-based mental health and substance use counselling programs for groups of cis and trans gay, bisexual and queer men. These groups are for guys who are HIV-negative, HIV-positive or who do not know their HIV status. Groups are offered throughout the year, and on a range of topics including depression, anxiety, body image and crystal meth. For more information about upcoming groups, call 416-340-8484 ext. 229 or email Vincent at email@example.com
Offered twice a year, for six-weeks, SPUNK! helps guys make positive changes when it comes to their substance use. Trained facilitators help participants identify the patterns in their life that lead to the negative effects of using, and offer proven techniques for reducing their use, along with the negative sexual risks that can stem from that use. For more information, contact Adam Busch, Gay Men’s Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Coordinator at 416-340-8484 ext. 235 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Substance Use and Mental Health Community Counselling (for patients of Maple Leaf Medical Clinic)
ACT’s Community Counsellor spends four days a week at Maple Leaf Medical Clinic providing counselling services for gay/bi/queer men on a range of mental health and substance use issues. If your doctor is at Maple Leaf Medical, you can access this free service – just tell your physician you’d like to be referred to the ACT Community Counsellor at Maple Leaf.
HIV disclosure and substance use
It’s hard disclosing your HIV status to someone, especially if you’re worried about being rejected, stigmatized, or think that it might put you in danger. It’s easier to disclose if when feeling safe, without being judged by the person you’re disclosing to. Substance use can make that harder to do; it can increase anxiety, increase worry about losing access to drugs or money, or like you don’t know how or when do it.
Using can make you feel good, and sometimes people worry that disclosing might ruin the moment. When using with someone, they might not remember that you disclosed to them, which would make it harder to prove that you did. If you decide to disclose, make it count. Video tape it on your phone, have a witness, or have the conversation over email/text.
If you’re worried they’re too high or too drunk, they might not be legally able to give consent, for both disclosure and to have sex in general. For more information on disclosure, including practical tips on how to, check out this resource.