Who uses Tina?
In the past, illegal crystal meth use in North America was
associated with biker gangs, and also had popularity in the
hippie culture of the 1960s. More recently, the low cost,
relative ease of manufacture, increased distribution and availability
of Tina, has led to a rise in use among a variety of populations.
Its use in gay urban cultures, initially in San Francisco
and New York, has spread to other U.S. cities, Europe, Australia
In Canada, it appeared that the trend to more widespread
use of crystal meth among gay and bi men began in Vancouver
and has since spread to Toronto and other centres. Scientific
data on use rates in Toronto among gay and bi men are not
known. This is one reason we have undertaken a research project
to get a better handle on this.
Current estimates on use among gay and bi men in Toronto
range from 6 – 25%. While this usage rate is low compared
to other drugs and alcohol, Tina is one of the most addictive
of illicit drugs and has other dangerous attributes that have
prompted many researchers to place Tina in a class by itself.
The combined experience we have on the street, online, in
bathhouses, at sex parties and clinically, is that crystal
meth use among men who have sex with men has risen significantly
in Toronto. There is also evidence that men who have sex with
men are perhaps the largest and most vulnerable population
of users currently in Toronto.
Requests for services and supports among gay and bisexual
men have increased significantly. The Rainbow Services department
of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) reports
that a high percentage of gay and bisexual men seeking help
with substance use have issues with crystal meth. The numbers
of clients accessing treatment for this substance are much
greater in this programme than for other populations serviced