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A gay man of substance(s)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 Written by // Patrick Ettenes Categories // Gay Men, Patrick Ettenes, Health, Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific

Patrick Ettenes talks about his experiences with drugs. “I’m writing about this and trying to be honest. When was the last time you looked in the mirror and did the same?”

A gay man of substance(s)

Well, this should be an interesting article to put out there. What did I go through and what are my experiences with drugs?

This is a long story involving many years of using substances, but in all honesty I had the time of my life when I first started using them. This was at a time when I discovered the gay scene, a time when I felt that the community actually was caring for each other. It was when music was everything, before Grindr, when you smiled and spoke to each other at the bar and the drugs were designed to make you happy and explore yourself like you were reborn. 

I know this sounds like a romantic picture but even back then we all had our own little issues. Like when your drug dealer refuses to sell you anything because he notices you are not happy (There were rules to taking substances that you were dlrilled in like you don’t use drugs when you’re angry or upset. At least my dealers all had a conscience!)

Anyway, it kept my figure slim and gave me the confidence to open my mind. It was also the perfect way to analyze the gay community behaviour on why, how and who used these substances. (I’ve sat with all kinds of public figures and VIPs doing coke; many of these had/have a really high profile.)

Now this is going to be a hard article to write, for the simple fact that I am writing about myself, so here’s the cut-throat part. Drugs were a crutch for me to depend on. It became so bad, that when I self -admitted myself into Rehab I had to explain why I was drugging myself, administering a certain amount every couple of hours. Why? I realised the drug I was on made me numb.

Why would I want to be numb? Well when my boyfriend (at the time) made me paranoid to cover up his affair and thought it a fun idea to bring men downstairs while I was upstairs and tell me it was all in my head, and you can hear everything, numbing yourself sometimes is the only way you can cope.

When you’re sober your mind reminds you over and over what went on, and your anxiety reaches a level where you just want to kill yourself because you know you’re going through something traumatic, and this is the only thing keeping you alive.

Sometimes when turning to substances, whether legal or illegal, I’ve said this: “any substance can be used to help once you are aware of what the drug can do for you”.

I come from a very interesting family. Father worked for the drug squad, mother was a nurse and psychotherapist/I got my schooling in psychology at age 15. I was reading my mom’s books and somehow retained the information.

With a passion to understand how I operate, my family realised things were not right with who I was with. I’ve always used drugs but this was at a dangerous level and that was caused by someone’s manipulation.

What happened afterwards wasn’t easy.Tthe addiction that I never had before started to appear. You see, in times like that, if you have a personality like mine you want to enjoy and smile and see the brighter side of things It's a Caribbean way of life; we smile and joke even if the plane is falling out of the sky. But that comes with whiplash. You don’t really deal with the current situation and unfortunately I couldn’t.

After a complete nervous breakdown occurring after I left rehab I felt I had to do whatever it takes to survive.

My experience with drugs is still an ongoing process. Iin London I felt that no-one paid attention to my medical condition but when it came to drugs they did. In Manchester I received a lot more mental health support.

I’m a little fearful to be honest, being such a complicated creature. So here is what I have done. On my own accord I went to Antidote (a London-based drug and alcohol service for LGBT’s) and they were amazing.  I also had to go to drug counselling after my breakdown, and this is where I really learned a lot. So guys this is what I would really like you to PAY ATTENTION TO!

My councillor sat me down and explained this. 

“ You are told you have a drug problem, so you come here, twice a week, but when you go home to your ex-boyfriend and his friends, they are all using drugs, but yet they insist on telling you that you are the one with a problem ”.

So this is why I don’t have that many friends at the moment. When people around you tell you that you have an issue, just because you went to get help (and they love to point out that you were in rehab etc.), and learning from that you try to cut down your usage to at least once a month, and actively try to change things, while they are trashed from Thursday night to Tuesday but yet say to your face that it is you who has the problem?

Drugs have taught me that so many people don’t own up to their own sh*it!

When you ask them why they don’t go to counselling, the amazing reaction is “I don’t have a problem, but remember you do“. Makes you want to reach for the nearest semi-hard object to hit them with. We all have a problem but I’m working on it and I like to think I'm big enough of a person to admit it.

So when a few years ago, injecting yourself with drugs was unspeakable, you now loose a date if you don’t! I think that there is a fine line that much of gay society is on right now. Denial is a great way of life. Ten Hail Mary’s and you are forgiven, or in this case forgotten.

The bottom line is that you cannot deny your drug use even to yourself.

I sit next to people who do what I do, but we still walk the same streets as proudly as I would normally. But now I actually reflect day in, day out about my behaviour and my life, where I’m going, why I’m still doing drugs, where is this going to? Do I have a problem still, am I losing it?

I’m my own worst critic,  and my comedowns aren’t always easy, but I’m more aware of my life and what I’m doing now than ever before. 

I lose my patience with those who sit high above others as if their own actions aren’t wrong. I’ve seen and heard people using drugs who are adored! I was at a sex party once, a man came over and in 10 minutes he was flat out on GHB, but hey, he had a big cock. I heard guys saying others take advantage of them when they are off their faces, but they go to these guys ’homes because they give free drugs! Am I the only one that sees the irony in that?

We are in a time where bad drug habits and behaviours are becoming commonplace; as long as you look good everything is still ok, but if you dare point out something that you think is not right you will be banished! How dare you mention that there might be a crack in the fuselage and we might explode!

So there you go, I slam, you slam, I fuck on drugs, you fuck on drugs, I drink, you drink. I’m writing about this and trying to be honest.

When was the last time you looked in the mirror and did the same?