Jason Yamas: Life in Tweakerworld

Jason Yamas is the author of the arresting memoir “Tweakerworld,” where he shares his story of addiction and recounts his time as not just an addict but a meth dealer in San Francisco’s underground ParTy’ n’ Play world.

He spoke with Addiction Talk’s Joy Sutton about his journey from addiction to recovery. He hopes his memoir will open the door for others to share their stories and help shine a light on the crystal meth epidemic in the LGBTQIA+ community.

I Needed to Be Perfect

Jason Yamas’ story begins where so many others do: a prescription. He was prescribed Adderall by his doctor and took the 10 mg dose as instructed. Over time, Jason began misusing it to help him stay awake, stay focused, and accomplish more. “I was a perfectionist,” he said. “I was someone who was eager to please and wanted to be viewed as somebody who was productive… I never wanted to show any types of flaws whatsoever.” 

Eventually, his drive to be the perfect partner, son, and producer led to a 120 mg per day habit. “[Perfectionism] is not possible as a human. You’re going to screw up. So, setting that bar for myself, I began to rely on the chemical component.”

From Adderall to Crystal Meth

Jason says he got pretty creative when it came to feeding his Adderall addiction, but eventually, it wasn’t enough. “When I was no longer able to get Adderall, my prescription was up, and the dealer had dried up. I found an article that was written by a pediatrician that was supposed to sway parents who were prescribing their children that crystal meth is chemically essentially the same.”

He continued, “As a gay man, I know where to find crystal meth. It’s on my smartphone. These hook-up apps that queer people gravitate toward on those apps are dealers selling crystal meth because they know there is a market for it.”

ParTy’ n’ Play

The crystal meth epidemic in the queer community is hidden in plain sight. Many people have a perception of what a crystal meth user is, “People dismiss it as a hillbilly drug, but that’s not at all what its hold is.” However, according to Jason, “The queer community has been using it for decades now, often in conjunction with sexual practices.” 

He continued, “It tends to quash a lot of shame and anxiety and depression, seemingly at first. A lot of people that have identity issues around their orientation or gender will find it hard to participate in what is natural. And crystal meth opens a door up for them to be able to do it.”

When Jason would talk to people in the lifestyle, he would find stories of shame and pain. The faces of meth addiction belonged to people in all walks of life. “When I would ask people about their lives… what do you do? I had a former psychologist. And a surgeon. Or a barista. It really could be anyone. And it’s scary. To see how it has its grips people of all colors and creeds and classes and occupations. It does not discriminate; addiction never does, but especially meth addiction in the queer community.”

Shame Feeds Addiction

Shame is a recurrent theme in the stories of so many folks in the LGBTQIA+ community. According to Jason,”What I was confronted with is so much sadness. So much gay shame. So many people that weren’t able to admit to themselves that they hated who they were. Because they were programmed by society to hate who they were.”

The continued pain from shame fuels continued drug use to try to escape or find acceptance. “I think that’s true of addiction as a whole, but specifically within queer identity it’s only until recently, and not everywhere, that queer people were given rights and told we’re valuable and equal with everyone else,” Jason said. “To be told that thing that completes you, the thing that brings you joy and pleasure is wrong, that kind of pain goes deep…People try to quash it with the chemicals.”

Hitting Rock Bottom

Jason gave up friends, partners, and family for his addiction. “What I did and what a lot of addicts do is run away; you don’t let people who you are accountable to see you, so I surrounded myself with other people doing crystal meth and other people in this lifestyle. Your lifestyle doesn’t look so bad when it looks like everyone else’s.”

But it wasn’t until he was deep in meth-induced psychosis, sick on the street, and thousands of dollars in debt that he finally reached out for help. Even then, he was resistant to stay in treatment. 

“Chaos comes from abusing drugs no matter what level you’re working at,” said Jason. “So I had lost everything. I had nothing. I ended up getting sick on the side of the street and called my ex-boyfriend collect and said I’ll go to rehab. And it still took them sedating me and several days of them convincing me to go to rehab. And I tried to escape twice.”

Ultimately, it was his father’s tough love that convinced Jason to go back to rehab and make recovery work. 

You’re Not in Too Deep, and It’s Never Too Late

Jason hopes people will learn from his story that there is a meaningful life beyond addiction. Even when your whole life has become a lifestyle of drug use and party’ n’ play, you can find purpose outside of addiction. “It’s not easy. It’s slow and hard, but it is so worth it. The biggest thing is to really look inside and ask what you want to accomplish in this life. It could be as simple as designing a garden or writing a book. But you find excitement in the little things…”

If you or a loved one are struggling, compassionate help is available. Reach out to us at to learn more about treatment options to help you get on the road to recovery and live a meaningful life in hope and acceptance.

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