An ACON-supported, gay-focused Narcotics Anonymous group may be formed to treat crystal meth dependence in Sydney’s gay scene.

Attendees at a public forum to address crystal meth use in the gay community last week said they supported abstinence from drug taking as a method for dealing with crystal problems.

Certainly that won’t be the only thing that we’ll look at, but there was such a strength of feeling about that, that it’s certainly one of the things that we’ll look at, ACON CEO Stevie Clayton told Sydney Star Observer.

The forum was the second community consultation hosted by ACON. Clayton said the forums were really successful in terms of information sharing, and that ACON was getting closer to determining people’s heath promotion and service information needs.

We think that people’s personal experience is as important as formal research, so we’re taking a lot from people’s responses at the forums, Clayton said.

There were stories about people essentially ruining their lives because of their dependence on crystal use. Losing jobs, losing friends, and then reaching a stage of finding a way into some form of treatment that worked for them.

It was the sort of stories that we’ve heard before, but it’s more powerful when you’re hearing one after another, she said.

We certainly heard some people talking about, either themselves, or other people that they knew -¦ seroconverting whilst using crystal.

Clayton said ACON are planning two more forums, the details of which are yet to be finalised. One will be for the general community with a focus on services, health promotion and information resources; and another aimed at the leather community.

It seems like they have particular issues around crystal use and there didn’t seem to be a lot who turned up at the previous forums, so we thought we’d do one catering specifically for them, Clayton said.

Approximately 90 community members attended the meeting last week. An additional forum was held for service providers.

With the service providers, what was interesting is that there probably are a whole lot more treatment programs out there than anyone was aware of, Clayton said, details of which would soon to be added to the ACON website.

If you visit our website you should be able to easily get to information about crystal, including what treatment programs and services and support groups are available right now in Sydney, she said.

Clayton said the forum also allowed certain misconceptions about ACON’s position on crystal to be rectified.

I think that there was a lack of clarity around ACON’s position on abstinence, that because we talk about harm reduction that that meant that we were totally opposed to abstinence, Clayton said.

We actually feel that abstinence is a form of harm reduction in the spectrum of different sorts of treatments or approaches that people might take.

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