The walk of shame after a party period, especially if you can’t remember it, is not a good look, is it. Smeared slap, lost phones and a trip to Club Drug Clinic may be in order of the wake up. Time Out called me ‘Clubland’s Therapist’ in 2000, my millennium accolade. So if you need a chem check, booze check, lifestyle check or still resentful after a relationship ended several moons ago maybe it’s time to check into COACHING. #chems #booze #alcoholism#codependency #blackouts #lifeaudit #lifecoaching #gaylifecoach #gayfollow#instagay #gayboy #lgbt #gaylondon #gayskype #gaymen #homo#gaystagram #gaypersonalgrowth #addictions #gaylifestyle #gayrelationships 



When drinking partners become your problem.


Snogging another woman doesn’t always indicate lesbianism but research has shown ( PACE UK ) that lesbians have a higher propensity to snog a bottle of booze, percentage wise than straight women, while other research has suggested that this applies to all LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈 peeps. Alcohol dependency before it becomes alcoholism can be just as troubling especially for family, partner or friends, however, seeking support around codependency issues can be a starting gun for change. #lgbtq #alcohol #alcoholism#alcoholic #alcoholabuse #chems#codependency #recovery #samesexcouple#samesexattraction #lesbian#lesbianskissing #relationshipgoals#recovery #cuttingdown


Killing Conversation

27332318_10157234494059966_4586605276723177720_nWe know that digital use is killing conversation in LGBTQ circles as much as anywhere else. Apps have offered the opportunity to flirt without follow through. Nothing wrong with that. However if you just TALK in soundbites, emoticons and short texts that include the word HI as starters, you are not exactly in practice for the real world. Chems & Booze are not always the answer for shyness and low esteem so consider COACHING as an option to find your voice.

Cock pics may create a one night shag easy enough but it’s TALKING face to face that creates friendships and relationships of all kinds. #digitaladdiction #cuttingdown #personalgrowth #codependency #alcohol #drugs #depression #socialphobia #chaosliving #debtdisorders #

microsoft-kills-off-old-versions-of-skype-update-or-else-512587-2If you have any of these issues maybe it’s time to TALK to someone, 121 or Skype. Time to have a relationship with yourself maybe. #gayCOACHING 


Rejecting Rehab

amy-winehouse-pic-rex-features-596537980-1I’m sure you will agree that we all need a rest at some point from chems, trashing it and messy mishaps. The pages of laundromat magazines are full of celebrity rehab casualties caught out by the tabloids for doing coke and pushed into rehab for PR purposes. Liz Taylor was one of the first celebrities to visit The Betty Ford Center in 1982 when it opened, and spent most of her lifetime going in and out, a classic case of helping everyone else but sadly couldn’t help herself.

Gay men are much more likely to have used marijuana, pills, cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, crystal meth, GHB, mephedrone, as examples, than men in the general population. We all know this. Not everyone gets into trouble with party drugs and a healthy debate abounds right now on harm reduction, but the addict, be it sex, dope, booze or gambling, needs to go for themselves, not to keep the peace or keep out of jail.

lindsay-lohan-drunk-22When Amy Winehouse sang ‘I don’t wanna go to Rehab’ we thought it was amusing until she was found dead on an alcohol overdose. Lindsay Lohan has recently been forced into Rehab by yet another judge. A CEO of a prominent treatment centre made an interesting point in an interview last month “The celebrities that so many people ask about, the ones who go to rehab without getting better, often have ‘treatment resistant’ addiction . . . Celebrities who have been classified as such have come to believe that they are in every way SPECIAL, and as such, the rules of life and recovery do not apply to them”.

I have equally witnessed gay men who think they are ‘special and different’, who think because of looks perhaps, they are untouched by addiction. They work out, party hard and hold down a job. So does LiLo and look at the state she’s in. Flicking through cheap laundromat mags, recounting celebrity mishaps, using them as benchmarks for your own behaviour can make one feel superior, but you know what they say “superior on the outside, inferior on the inside”.

Being defensive about secret behaviours leads to a path of denial, and when a friend, partner or sex buddy suggests looking at your escape routes it’s easy to become Amy or LiLo and act out ‘treatment resistant’. Not that rehab is the only answer for gay men with heavy drug or alcohol use, who are ‘walking through treacle getting nowhere fast’, not even to the point of addiction. Hovering between social use, heavy use and ‘must have’ use, is a very uncomfortable place to be. I’ve been there, and equally refused to listen.

I opted for total abstinence in the end, and have remained so ever since, as the evidence landed me in courts and institutions, but checking out your own relationship with all forms of drug use, and recognising how these habits affect all your other relationships is a task worth taking. You may need to give yourself a good talking too, but in the end it’s ‘action’ that holds the highest value.

The current Californian food diet to ravage the globe is the 5.2 diet, where you ‘fast’ for 2 days a week. It may be worth instigating this model into ‘habit fasting days’ if you think using drugs, alcohol, food or anger is becoming a habit or causing relationship problems. Your partner may be nagging you into submission (it rarely works-so stop it) if most of the time you prefer unconsciousness, playing the role of LiLo’s judge will only offer kick back. Forcing someone into counselling, therapy, support groups or rehab to save a relationship, a job or themselves is counter productive for until that person lets go of ‘special & different’, you are wasting breath. Change only works long term when they want it, as LiLo’s judge may discover.

Happy Gay Pride!Having said all that, PRIDE and vacation time is a chance to party more than usual, so don’t take the coming weekends as a benchmark. Trashed and messy is part of ‘letting go’, feeling part of collective bonding and community.

It’s more to do with ‘when & how’ the rest of the year and how you feel when you ‘fast’, whether your habits dominate your schedule and the kind of guys you hang out and collude with. They are the ones likely to enable you into thinking everything is OK. Taking a monthly check on lost phones, chaos living, money spent, manipulations lashed out, depression, moods or stinking thinking will serve you well. For without checking a bank statement you will never know how much money you have. Checking up on your lifestyle, before it costs you more than money, creates higher esteem, satisfaction and above all PRIDE.

This blog first appeared on June 25 2013 as my weekly post on

‘Empowerment’ June 2013 Edition of HIM-Magazine

A prolific London DJ, the infamous, multi-talented Stewart Who? once said of me in QX Magazine” If he was assassinated on Old Compton Street they couldn’t get a Police Station big enough to hold the usual suspects, because for well over a decade he has held the secrets of DJs, Club Promoters, Bar Owners, Escorts, Musicians, Lawyers & City Boys as well as counseling those affected by HIV/AIDS since 1984.

He was there at the beginning of AIDS “


When I read it in print, in stark hard copy, the thing that stuck out was the fact that “He was there at the beginning of AIDS “. It was such a fact that I ignored the impact of it. Yes I was, and sadly HIV/AIDS is still with us, but I’m still here. Prior to the arrival of GRID ( Gay Related Immune Deficiency – the given virus name before HIV in 1984 ) I was diagnosed in 1981 with incurable chronic active hepatitis B virus and cirrhosis of the liver, and was told surprisingly, that alcohol was not the cause, but early death was inevitable as no cure was available.  

At the same time a mysterious virus was hitting New York, San Francisco & Miami and as the Royal Free Hospital in London was a major teaching & research hospital, doctors came from those American cities to test people on the trial, because early USA cases were also chronic Hep B too. They sampled from us hair, blood, saliva & semen to take back to the US, but none of us seemed to have GRID. Within a year or so the Doctors at the Royal Free Liver Unit became HIV/AIDS pioneers opening up units in all London hospitals. In 1982 I was one of 10 guinea pigs on the first human Interferon drug trial in a famous London teaching hospital, which failed to find the cure to halt chronic active Hep B virus. Everyone died on the trial – except me.

766932-binge-drinking1But the real adventure began on October 26 1982 when I awoke from my last drug & alcohol binge weekend, washed up, rinsed, debt ridden and done in. Thus began my true journey.

The 80′s were tough. I was able along the way to own my sex addiction, and deal with the financial wreckage of the past by declaring voluntary bankruptcy in 1984, with no credit for 5 years, the consequences of addictive behaviour. As HIV/AIDS came along, I started counselling addicts, alcoholics and those dying of AIDS, and by 1990 I had lost over 50 friends, past lovers and clients to the virus, while I was in and out of hospital myself with liver failure.

How I survived I have no idea, but the promise of death is a motivator to beat it. In 1991, after a 3 year training I became an LRT (Loving Relationship Training) Relationship Coach & Rebirther and in 2010 was made an Honorary Member of The Australian Academy of Rebirthing & Breathwork, accredited to the Australian Government, for my work and service over 2 decades as a Breathworker, Addiction Specialist, Life Coach & Trainer. I have also led residentials, seminars and workshops in the UK, Australia, South America, Canada, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Estonia, Spain, Morocco and Goa in India. 

So yes, things did get better, and I am still alcohol, drug and nicotine free since 1982, plus I recovered from Hep B without using medications, and sero-converted my Hep B status using Yogic Breathwork. It took 11 years of constant attention, affirmations, therapies, friendships and hope. In the end I wanted to release Hep so bad, that the universe delivered and I never gave up. So be the lesson.

MediaAssetsComing to terms with an addiction is not easy, but for gay men the task can be harder. Walking away from a hedonistic social life in order to recover is challenging, and the addictions bring secondary issues, like debt, denial and emotional deceptions. Having used for 17 years and being clean & sober for over 30 years, it’s been a journey that reflects gay and personal liberations from struggle, debt and dysfunction. Off course I didn’t have the challenges that young gay men have today, in health or choices.

In 1967 when I came out, London had less than half a dozen gay bars & meeting places, now we have over 500 plus internet hook-ups, so it was very different scene. I came out 6 months before homosexuality was decriminalised, and offered electric shock aversion therapy, but declined it, and went on prescribed medication instead, then my drinking and drugging increased till I crashed into a space of awareness.

The first 15 years of my recovery were, I now see, the backbone to the next 15 years. Times of crisis, confusion or ill health are there to act out the art of growing up, building trust, reducing expectation & demands on self and others, and relinquishing all forms of codependent patterning.

The only attachment that matters to me now is queer spirit and the joy of not knowing what the world will bring. It’s ironic that I spent 17 years getting out of control, thinking I was in control, only to discover that being in control of your life is the biggest drug con of all. The most spiritual thought I hold is ‘I know nothing’. I have no idea why I recovered from an incurable disease, or why I needed to watch people dying of AIDS to be taught more about living, but If I can recover from this level of experience, then anyone can. It just takes diligence, practice and experienced support.


This blog of mine first appeared in the online JUNE 2013 Edition of HIM-MAGAZINE “For the Man Who Invests In Himself!”


Great Expectations

Setting expectations too high is societies curse, which is why government and partners fail us and media is flooded at this time of year with detox trivia, diet plans and resolutions. Don’t encourage them, be stylish – wait till February – or when you feel you want to, rather than need to just because it’s New Year. January is the time for looking back, not unplanned impulsive action. See where you have gone awry first. Take note of Dickens little orphan boy Pip in Great Expectations, “take nothing on it’s looks; take everything on evidence : there’s no better rule”.

It’s a pity that we take many things on first looks often without resort to reality, living a dream. It’s easy to be optimistically romantic in a club then discover 6 weeks later knee deep in “a relationship” that he’s psychotic, a compulsive liar or an addict. It pays to do detail sooner. Although the Pythons insisted that we look on the bright side of life, optimism is another word for denial so best if you face facts quickly, take everything on evidence and move on. Denial is an unconscious defence mechanism, which is why it’s so rampant, and therefore part of our core survival system.

None of us can survive our lives without a certain amount of denial to keep us in balance, but with denial in regards to addiction, the denial is taken to extreme and since gayers have a habit of breaking conventional bounderies, we are more prone to addiction, because we often have no boundary of when to stop and grow up. We don’t want the party, unconscious spending, cruising addiction and the chems to end – but if we don’t take stock, look back over the year, the end will come sooner than expected.

Why do people deny they need help? There are many reasons for denial in addiction. One reason is that most users don’t like to feel helpless and out of control and ironically, to observers, this is exactly what addicts are portraying. Bob Mandel of the Loving Relationship Training said ” the only guru you need are the results in your life “, but any addict or compulsive user often refuses to face facts, relying instead on the expectation that it will all end with a wave of a magic wand. It won’t. The addict will blame everything and everyone except their own substance abuse for their problems.  One of the reason why chems are the lifeboat of the scene is that the chemical dependent may be using drugs or alcohol to cover up numb or unpleasant feelings and by stripping away the denial, the unpleasant feelings will come to the surface. That’s why fear of detox keeps the compulsive user using. The last few weeks will have sorted the men from the boys, top this with office parties and extra socialising in December it’s no wonder we crave a detox, a rest or show the white flag for the New Year. It’s expected now that we slow down and the majority will, but many will be living with a nightmare partner, flatmate or family member with the party still in full swing. If you are – seek help. You may not help the addict but you can stop yourself getting drawn into manipulated guilts, codependency and the false expectation they will wake up and come out of their coma of justification.

While not all substance abusers have suffered past traumas in their lives, an inordinate amount have. Child, sexual & physical abuse is common in the addicted population. For gayers add secrets, withheld emotions, homophobia and shame to the mix. But, no matter what the cause is of the denial, the important part is that the addict ( or anyone close to the addictive person ) confront the defense mechanism head on. This may be by what some addicts describe as “hitting bottom” , job loss, health scare or can come from confrontation with family, friends or through the court systems for possession or drunk driving.

Many times an addict will lose a job, friends or family relationships because of the addiction but still find enablers to supply. Denial in addiction is not a linear course, either. The addict may be in denial at some times, and facing reality at others, so addiction in denial may be fluid especially in the beginning stages of looking at themselves or in recovery. Even for those who are far along the recovery path, falling off the wagon and denial can strike at any time and will need to be overcome once again to get back on track. Linkin Park talked about confronting denial best in their song “Breaking the Habit” when they said, “I’ll paint it on the walls, ’cause I’m the one at fault” in acknowledgement that a habit is indeed a personal disease for which one needs to take responsibility in order to break free.

More people consider REHAB in January than at any other time of year but the real test of whether you are in an addictive compulsive spiral is to stop and see how far you get without your poison be it alcohol, chems, escorts, food, internet or procrastination. Expect nothing and allow yourself to feel anything, even a feeling of surrender and freedom. Bare in mind that there are more compulsive dependents than addicts, but addiction will always grab you by the balls when it goes unobserved – as any crack head or meth abuser will confirm. Best if you observe now, take stock, tell the truth to someone and seek help in the areas that control you.

It’s not about stopping the party it’s about knowing when to leave. Look at your life, check the evidence, own it and then decide what needs changing. Don’t expect someone else to do it for you.

Contact me for specialised 3 hour Coaching Sessions or other support services can be found at  Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have regular LGBT meetings in London – check Google for information.

Antidote in London is a free LGBT Drug & Alcohol advisory service :

Fire in the house

There has been in the words of Mrs Merton, ‘a heated debate” going on, on a London based clubbing website* about police raids, arrests and licensing reviews at certain clubs.  Most comments on the site agree that ‘Vauxhall village’ now represents a field hospital with music, and on top of this, Mr Plod has gone in as a mystery shopper and shopped the dealers, so anyone now entering these clubs better have clean pants on, because security gloves now scan for hidden property in intimate areas. For years the gay club scene has changed course, in style, demand and direction, mostly going East. Smaller clubs, neatly defined, individual and bold, pop up like toast in Shoreditch and Bethnal Green while Vauxhall trades on it’s past glories. Going home in a flashing blue light ‘Vauxhall taxi’, via St Thomas’s, is the G Heads accolade of a good night out, but the drug and it’s chronic users are destroying the club experience for many casual observers.

Some years back a campaign appeared in the gay media about G – KEEP G OUT OF OUR CLUBS – having seen the damage done in San Francisco & Sydney, in closing gay clubs in those cities with G abuse by Police and Institutions. Feared up by loss of revenue, London promoters left their knives at the door to come together in unity, but as austerity cuts bit into club profits I guess blind eyes to behaviour increased and the larger clubs had more to lose which is why clubs are no longer solely gay, more straight friendly to rack up the dosh. Nothing wrong with gay friendly straights, not all straights are, and in my experience homophobic straight women are on the increase. No wonder we still need to create our own safe family networks, in or out of a club. The general rub of the “heated debate” is that serial drug use has overtaken glowstick happiness, and as one poster said ” Fire & Area are linked to drugs like a horse and carriage, you don’t go from Thursday to Monday on a Red Bull & aspirin “. The Alcohol Licensing Bill of 1875 was brought in to curb the notorious gin palaces of the day and social disorder that stemmed from them. During the First World War licensing hours were introduced on command of the military, who did not want pissed soldiers with a gun in their hand. Since millennium licensing has been relaxed and like kids without reins, we have taken advantage of “continental” style habits, quite forgetting that Brits don’t drink booze from a thimble like the French, we are natural guzzlers of anything liquid in a large glass. Beer has been historically more available than tea, so call it genetic and cultural usage. Many clubbers in the 90’s dropped booze as a drug of choice and choose a pharmaceutical route, but that old genetic link remained and its underling addictive quality. Even overseas visitors says they are blown away by London club consumption of chemicals and alcohol, alarmed and feeling ostracised by behaviour.

Many commentators on the ‘debate’ website refer to the subject of personal responsibility by promoters, landlords and clientele. This is all very well coming from a comfy armchair or people who have bought £2 Million Penthouses close to the clubs in question, watching wandering wastrels scour the landscape 24/7, but the nature of the beast defies logic. Addiction in any form has been described as “the illness that tells you you haven’t got it” and the wake up call is often ignored by gathering colluders to keep the game in motion. At some point in our lives we need to check in and curb behaviour, and gay clubs should be no different. Sadly, it can take a Licensing Review, to stare reality in the face, the same as an individual losing a job, relationship or good health through using and abusing, and addiction to profit is no different. I am told that most clubs employ good medics, but I suspect that this out of fear, loss of licence, rather than respecting clientele. Remember how long it took to get tap water in clubs when E ruled the roost. It took a death to implement change. Some people wonder why clubbers refuse to take personal responsibility for themselves and others. The answer is that habits, compulsions and serial addictive behaviour are beyond intelligence. The Word Health Organisation defines addiction as an illness, not self inflicted. Some wake up and move on after a period of heavy usage, while other stay stuck on a hamsters wheel, convinced that all is well. Just ask a partner of an alcohol or drug abuser. A rock bottom is as long as you can stretch it out before it’s too late to recover, when health overrides hands in the air. In fact hands in the air, is all close friends, co-workers, family and partners can muster in frustration at blind delusion.

You may need to curb and review your own clubbing activities, lost phones, unsafe sex and drug intake at some point, remember you don’t need a rock bottom drama to change tack. A good night’s sleep, nature’s botox, and a friend to share concerns with is a good start, before searching further help. Not every user becomes an addict but heavy using can get you nowhere fast, just walking through treacle and staying stuck.

Junkie Living & Dying

Amy dead at 27, the papers have been full of it, but is she any different from a G overdose at Fire or a middle aged gayer on a crack pipe?

It’s easy to sneer at scuzzy street junkies, scuttling off for their next drop while gayers fix themselves up in A&F Muscle Fit, a bump, a line and serial sex. This observation illustrates how we all have a scale of snobbery when it comes to junkie behavior. Someone else is always a benchmark for addiction. If someone is talented like Amy it seems wrong to cuss but if a junkie makes home under a cash machine on the street it’s easy to sound off, look down and snear.

Bears often add to their profiles ‘No druggies’ while they sup 10 pints of Newcastle Brown a night without heeding that alcohol is the oldest known drug. When I was bang at it, junkies were smack-heads, horse dealers, scat boys, skaggies or simply “on the brown”. The lowest of the low after meth drinkers. Now heroin addicts are almost respectable living on benefits, methadone and 6 packs of Special Brew. What a turnaround, well at least it helps the crime figures. Thankfully most gay men don’t go round snatching bags and mainlining in parks but in some quarters gayers at home on the crack pipe is the new hubble bubble of fashion.

Glamorous addiction never lasts, the cheeks soon turn pale. It’s easy to think that gay men just do ‘hands in the air’ club drugs, that they never have to resort to dogs on string, but the reality is that many are out there using to oblivion, nicking to survive, just like a street junkie. Stealing from banks by maxing a credit card and moving on with no forwarding address is no different, the courts would say. We are all junkies on some level but the extra luggage of shame and low esteem that homos bring to the table reflect the present day consumption of goodies that we use to escape fearful feelings, realities of life and viral intervention. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Look where SILENCE has led us – the world of illusions.
The illusion that tight tops and big Muscle Bears are somehow different from the manic street junkie is an epidemic of denial. Whether you score from a phone box or have it delivered by Addison Lee is off no consequence when you use a drug every day. Daily drugs users are not always addicts but they are junkies. Using dry cleaning fluid as a stabilizer is junk. Drug and alcohol dependency is so insidious that no one knows where the magic line is that gets you hooked.
I have seen drug fucks use for 10 years and be able to cut back or cut out within a week while others become addicted to a drug of choice within weeks and can’t stop (and never stop till they OD). Most gayers sit in the middle of social using and heavy using without becoming addicts, but heavy using can still destroy what’s left of your relationships, bank accounts and sanity. Rehabs will tell you that you don’t have to hit bottom with a habit, you can get off at the 2nd Floor, so wise up while you can, the body will only take so much.Think how many times you have gone out without a drink or drug inside you. When was the last time? When did you last have sex without stimulants? ( . . and I’m not talking Viagra). When was the last time you pigged out on comfort food and went on a binge? The propensity for JUNK is everywhere and our lifestyle of no dependents can lead us to junkie thinking of instant gratification, I want, I must have, I WILL have – the illness of self obsession. Tempering our needs and knocking out the wants leads to balanced thinking, balanced lives and less emotional comedowns – which some of you may desire but have no idea about obtaining.
Amy had help thrown at her from all directions but the illness of addiction, blocked her ears. Addiction is not choosy, it hits up the super sexy and the mundane and it’s the illness that tells you you haven’t got it. Recovery starts with ownership, awareness and surrender.
Focus this week on your own junkie behavior, it’s easy to knock someone else’s (especially a partner), try recognizing where you relapse into junkie thinking, acting out and progressive denial. Then consider a game plan for reversal toward more conscious using, for as I’ve said many times before, chems are not the problem, the problem lies in the vessel that consumes them. It’s not what you take, it’s how chems make you feel, and at some point the romance ends and you flat line into oblivion.
Living with a partner with a habit is exhausting, even more so if you join them. They may not die in body but the brain and spirit is gone, taking logic and time with them. It’s easy to think you can help, assist or fix someone, you can’t. Amy is an example of this, for until the junkie shows the white flag the battle sadly continues for all, until death.
Sadly I doubt whether Amy’s death will allow LGBT users to think twice about their own using habits, since using Amy as a benchmark for what ‘real’ addiction is, is a game well played. It’s easy to blame fame as a co-conspirator, or talents beyond management, when the reality is we all believe this stuff happens to other people, not us.

Gay Pokies

Do gayers get excited about pokies? You might think it’s just a Facebook thing, a sexual flirt, when in fact pokie addiction is destroying lives worldwide.

In Australia & New Zealand the problem is out of control and in Northern Europe countries like Estonia have more casinos than theatres and cinemas. The old one arm bandit has progressed to buttons but the endgame is the same, the longer you play a pokie, the more likely you are to lose all the money you put in the machine. Now we all know someone who can’t handle their booze, their G or Tina but how many GAY GAMBLERS do you know?

When you look at the gay lifestyle some may say we gamble every day with unsafe sex, drugs, pick-ups and the threat of homophobic abuse. But it’s true that admittance of self-fisting has more merit than owning up to debt caused by games of chance, such is the shame around gambling your life away. When I finally gave up booze and drugs (before they gave me up I might add), I thought I drank heavily because I was gay only to discover that I drank alcoholically not homosexually. My sexuality lifestyle encouraged an addiction but was not the cause of it. A gay alcoholic is the same as a straight one and the same rings true for gamblers. I had mentioned in a previous blog elsewhere on Internet Addiction: “Think chinese plate spinning, think tight concentration, think edging. Much like the addictive gambler who sits at the table for hours, lost in the spell of playing the game, net users can spend long periods of time in a trance like state…”

This trance like state is part of gaydar attraction, fixated on what’s gonna come up rather than what’s sitting on your plate, chinese or otherwise. Notice how high street gambling spots now look like social meeting places, we have 3 in a short stretch of Camden High Street with rows of pokies plus refreshments. You are likely to easily spot an alkie down Camden High Street but can you spot a gambler? They remain more closeted than closets. How many gay men do you know who enter the doors of William Hill for leisure? The law of average suggests they do. How would you know if your flatmate, partner or friend is a compulsive gambler since secretive behaviour is part of the deal? Gambling, like using, can be recreational but when when you start to lose more than money it may be time to get real. Like other escape routes, gambling doesn’t start as a problem, some use it to avoid feelings of depression or see it as a pleasant way of escaping life’s responsibilities. Others see it as a stimulator, a mode of excitement much like a drug high. Eventually it becomes the norm and because the addictive personality demands so much more, it’s automatic to play harder with higher stakes, no different from the average clubbers weekend cocktail of substances, highs, lows and justifications. Same meat, different gravy.

It’s easy to think that this blog doesn’t apply to you but look further. You don’t have to roll a dice to deceive. Switching credit cards, robbing peter to pay paul, cheating, lying and focusing on the future and not the present moment are all components of active addiction. Most of us have no idea what we owe, we just avoid the issue of payback time. Debt is the new bareback. Another gamble.

When you think about it, gayers are more inclined to be self sufficient, we don’t hunt in gangs like straight lads for sex, we are prone to secretive sexual antics (things we would NEVER discuss with our mates), are best placed in careers where we act alone, risk chem abuse more often and act quickly on sexual impulse. Older gay men are becoming reliant on the web rather than risk face to face in a bar. On-line sex and the need for instant gratification are seedbed practices for online gaming – real poker instead of pokies. It is the fastest growing addiction and you can see why, you don’t have to look your best for starters and with a couple of grams for companionship and a fist full of cards, your dreams can come true. Except no one knows about it. Especially when you can’t remember what you spent. It’s a bit like signing up for a porn site off yer face and 6 months later you still can’t understand why this monthly figure from nowhere keeps appearing.

Gambling alone is one thing but gambling within a relationship is the biggie. We all read the stories of the husband who has gambled away the house without the wife knowing. There must be a gay version. Not everyone who gambles is compulsive, not everyone who uses is an addict but it is clear that gayers are spending more pro rata web time than straights and this will increase as habits develop. Getting your own house in order with regular review is as wise as gym work. Great tits, shame about the court judgements does not make a great T shirt nor will it impress your new lover, unless he is a babysitting, parenting, fixing, rescuing codependent. And there are plenty of those around.

Drowning in Booze?

For most gay men on the lash, the thought of abstaining from booze fills them with horror, even if their present lifestyle is horrific in chaotic content, to the outside observer. Judgement never worked for me when I was bang at it, so don’t expect it in sessions. However it’s wise at some point to judge your own behaviours with experienced guidance.

When a client has an alcohol dependency, they usually “do too, too much” on a regular basis, which doesn’t always mean they are alcoholic. Although I have been clean & sober since the early eighties via 12 Step programmes I don’t use this material in my work, they can go to meetings if they want to pursue this path and abstain, a day at a time.

One of my clients was asked by ATTITUDE MAGAZINE to write his experience of getting off booze for the September 2010 “ISSUES” Issue, a dedicated spread of 12 pages around addictive & compulsive behaviours that affect gay men.

KEITH, 42, Project Manager, London.

” When I stopped drinking in September 2007, having been an alcoholic all my adult life, people started to ask : ” How did you know you were addicted?” It’s a difficult question to answer as everyone is different, but a good indicator is when any addiction you have starts costing you more than money. My illness, or to put it another way, my inability to cope with alcohol, was responsible for me fucking up in every job I ever had. I maxed out credit cards, had no sense of perspective and my life was a heady mix of addictions and chaotic living.

Most recovering addicts will agree that you have to reach rock-bottom in order to wake up from the coma ( of alcohol, and in my case drug dependency as well ) and it was for me although, unlike many others, I’ve never entered any treatment rehab or attended AA/NA meetings as yet, to pursue recovery.

I’d been on the lash in the Two Brewers one night. I couldn’t remember getting home and when I woke in the morning, I called work and concocted some spurious excuse for me not being able to come in. Maybe I’d had enough as my excuse was flimsy, see-through and fooled no-one. All the years of having to build lies to cover up my using ( which everyone saw through at once – the only person who believed the lie was me ) had taken their toll. Another job was hanging in the balance so I decided that I was too tired to carry on living this way and did something about it. I picked up the phone and called David Parker, as he had come recommended and was known as ‘Clublands Therapist ‘ on the scene.

We started working together in October 2006 and I set out on a path of  “purposeful using” as David calls it, which in a nutshell means using ( alcohol & coke ) on special occasions only. This was for me to decide my level of dependency. There were hits and misses, and in this first year I didn’t define myself as alcoholic, but there was plenty to unravel as the alcohol had been masking a whole raft of issues, including co-dependency, and low self-esteem. It was only after a year in therapy that I admitted to myself and everyone that I knew that I was alcoholic, and in many ways it was a relief to label myself as such, as it was proof that I was unable to deal with alcohol and would never be able to safely drink again.

It would be a lie to say that I haven’t been tempted but given where I am now compared to three years ago, going back simply isn’t an option. The vast majority of my friends have been wholly supportive of me. True, there have been one or two who resented me getting well but I guess that’s bound to happen. It’s one thing getting sober but the real test is staying that way, so I observe my thoughts and actions on a daily basis. I’ve been sober and off drugs for almost 3 years and there will ( I hope ) be many more ahead for me. The key to success is remembering what made me drink and how it made me feel so I’m not tempted to pick up a drink again – in 5, 10, 15 or 20 years time. “

As my client discovered, being coached into booze solutions leads to other areas of opportunity and improvement. In the timespan I worked with him he also stopped smoking ( and has stayed stopped ), gained emotional esteem, lost weight, created a regular gym regime, dealt with debt and is now in surplus, started dating again, gained career growth and started his own business. What’s not to like?