Of Meth and Men

The drug fuels gay parties -- but the party was almost over before Rod finally found help.

Rod knows how tough it is to get off -- and stay off. He goes to meetings of Kicking Tina, a support group that he and four other gay men founded, twice a week. He also helps facilitate a cognitive-therapy group that's designed specifically for people who use stimulants, to help them understand why they behave the way they do. He's been appointed to the Mayor's Office of HIV Resources, which oversees the administering of funds to combat AIDS, and is pursuing becoming a certified addictions counselor. And at 48, he's buying a home for the first time.

Rod is working hard -- but then, he's making up for lost time. And he wants to hold up the mirror so that other gay men can see how meth can impact their lives. "It's having no worries," Rod says. "You lose your anxiety. Let's just say that for me, there's a whole piece about being an aging gay man, and there's a whole piece that causes me anxiety, and there's a whole piece about being HIV-positive, and there's a whole piece about being lonely, and there's a whole piece about being inadequate because I don't have a formal education. Meth erases all that."

If it doesn't erase its user altogether.

After the bitch: When he kicked Tina, Rod Rushing found a new career.
Anthony Camera
After the bitch: When he kicked Tina, Rod Rushing found a new career.
A helping hand: Imani Latif hired Rod on the spot to advocate for HIV patients.
Anthony Camera
A helping hand: Imani Latif hired Rod on the spot to advocate for HIV patients.

With Bob's help, Rod got clean. Now he's on a mission to help others separate the myths of meth from the harsh realities. "I firmly believe that this drug has done so much damage to my community and to people I know and to people I don't know that I'm not going to participate in it anymore," he says. "It's not going to be part of my reality. And I'll be okay if I don't do it. That's the other thing."

He's kicked the bitch.

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