Booty-Bumping Meth: Harm Reduction for an Under-Discussed Practice

December 10, 2019

Stacy Cobine, a peer worker at a harm reduction center in Northern California, works with a lot of people who use crystal methamphetamine. Sometimes, when she sees people with severe cases of skin abscesses and track marks, she’ll recommend an alternative to injecting that still offers the same quick hit. “Booty-bump it,” she has advised.

Booty-bumping is the rectal administration of crystal meth. “I think it’s a good alternative if it’s done right,” Cobine told Filter. She works with the Humboldt Area Harm Reduction Center, which was founded by Brandie Wilson, now the executive director of Chicago Recovery Alliance. For Cobine and many other harm reductionists, it’s best to dissolve the drug in sterile water and squirt the solution into the anus with a needle-less syringe.

People who booty-bump should not share syringe barrels or cups used to prepare the meth solution, cautions London-based chemsex expert Ignacio Labayen De Inza. But the practice helps “prevent problems in the skin and veins” associated with injection use, he told Filter.

Cobine has herself used the under-discussed meth consumption route when she “couldn’t get my shot,” because her veins were “messed up” from years of injection drug use. It also bypasses the lung and nasal irritation potentially caused by smoking or inhaling meth (as is the case with most other drugs ingested in these ways).

“With booty-bumping, don’t let anyone ever mix up your stuff for you.”

But booty-bumping meth has its own relative harms and risks. People might risk overdosing or overamping by using this consumption mode, because, like intravenous injection, it provides rapid delivery that hits faster than “bombing” (swallowing) the drug, for example.

“I have overamped from booty-bumping,” said Cobine. “I was sweating bad. I got sick to my stomach. It felt like my heart was going to come out of my chest.” In that instance, she had let another person mix her solution, which she says was likely more potent than she’d usually prepare for herself. So what happened to her was preventable: “With booty-bumping, don’t let anyone ever mix up your stuff for you.”

While “booty-bumping is a great alternative to slamming [injecting] to prevent problems in the skin and veins,” Labayen De Inza said, “it’s important to do it safely because of the fragility of the tissue of the rectum and anus.” Directly inserting a crystalized drug into the anus is likely to irritate and break the tissue.

“I went around to a guy’s place and he had no pipe or needles. I was so desperate for a hit, I stuck some rocks of crystal straight up my arse. Never doing that again,” one man told an Australian peer-led HIV/AIDS organization, the Institute of Many.

Using undissolved methamphetamine puts booty-bumpers at more risk of being exposed to sexually transmitted infections, said Labayen De Inza. Tears can be entry points for viruses like HIV, or hepatitis C and A. These may be introduced when sharing booty-bumping works, like syringes, or when having anal sex after use, which is particularly common in queer and trans chemsex and party ‘n’ play scenes—as a booty-bumping-specific harm reduction guide (below) developed by Labayen De Inza explains. The potential risks of booty-bumping are compounded by the tendency for people who use meth to take more sexual risks, like not using condoms, than they otherwise would.

HARM REDUCTION – BOOTY BUMP

Harm reductionists identify a number of ways to prevent booty-bumping risks and harms. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation, for example, recommends coating the inside of the anus with petroleum jelly before use to prevent tearing, and then inserting a vitamin E capsule afterwards to promote healing. Making sure all equipment used is sterile and sanitary will help curb the risk of an infection.

Some chemsex participants aren’t aware of these relatively simple harm reduction measures, though. Labayen De Inza performs outreach on the geolocation-based networking app Grindr, used by queer men and transgender women. One London man whom he supported in October was booty-bumping to avoid the harms of smoking “tina,” as meth is commonly known in the queer and trans community, but was unaware that it carries its own risks.

“Smoking tina was causing lots of problems in my mouth, my tongue, my lips, my gums, so I tried booty bumping and it has been great,” he messaged, according to a screenshot provided to Filter by Labayen De Inza. “I thought I was doing it safely but 2 weeks ago in a sex party someone told me that I was taking lots of risks because it’s very easy to get Hep C, and I wasn’t doing it in a very safe way.” He had been sharing a syringe with several other men and was using unfiltered tap water. “Now I am very confused and quite worried.”

Labayen De Inza explained to the anonymous Grindr user some safer ways to use, like the methods explained in his booty-bumping guide. Although Labayen De Inza was able to educate the man, he has found it difficult to get this information into the hands of more chemsex participants due to censorship by Grindr.

As reported by BuzzFeed News in October, the platform has repeatedly and continuously banned Labayen De Inza’s profile—which explicitly offers harm reduction counseling—even while allowing other accounts to openly advertise the sale of meth and other drugs.

Booty-bumping could be under-utilized as an injection alternative, “if they can’t let go of that stigma.”

Even when harm reductionists have well-established lines of communication with meth users, as is the case for Cobine and Humboldt Area Harm Reduction Center, some are hesitant to consider booty-bumping as an alternative practice. Cobine suggested that homophobia could be preventing straight men from using this method or openly talking about safer ways to do it. “In the heterosexual male community, maybe they’re afraid that it’ll make them gay. That’s the stupidest fucking thing.”

When she’s recommended it to peers, “some people laugh,” because, she suggests, “It’s a secret thing.” Booty-bumping could be under-utilized as an injection alternative, “if they can’t let go of that stigma that they’ve created in their minds.”

Image by Filter of the peach and gem emojis associated with butts and crystal methamphetamine, respectively.

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