Have you con­clud­ed that it’s time to stop using Tina?
Then be pre­pared; quit­ting Tina is unlike­ly to be easy.
You need to be high­ly moti­vat­ed and dis­ci­plined to quit Tina with­out assistance.
Ask fam­i­ly, friends or men with some expe­ri­ence of this for support.

Quit­ting Tina isn’t phys­i­cal­ly dangerous.
But it is def­i­nite­ly emo­tion­al­ly and psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly challenging.

Do you have a his­to­ry of psy­chosis, depres­sion or sui­ci­dal tendencies?
If so, pro­fes­sion­al assis­tance is advisable.
Would you real­ly rather do with­out it?
Then make sure that you have dai­ly con­tact with some­one you trust.
Seek help if things start to go wrong.
If you’re on anti­de­pres­sants, do not, under any cir­cum­stances, stop tak­ing them!

Are you phys­i­cal­ly depen­dent on down­ers like GHB, GBL, alco­hol, ben­zos or opiates?
Don’t try quit­ting down­ers from one day to the next.
Quit­ting with­out assis­tance can be risky, even fatal.
Always quit under super­vi­sion; seek help at a clinic.

❗ Tips on quitting:

  • “I’m not going to use today”
    Some guys hope for an imme­di­ate and com­plete turn­around, with the aim of quit­ting for good.
    Oth­ers set them­selves more mod­est goals.
    The advan­tage of set­ting more mod­est goals is that they are more achiev­able, and there­fore less daunting.
    Whichev­er approach works for you, set your­self the goal of not using today.
    Almost any­one can man­age a day with­out using.
  • Geo­graph­i­cal fix
    Quit­ting often involves a major lifestyle change.
    You’ll need to avoid cer­tain places, men and things.
    Some guys move house, so as to start their lives afresh.
    It’s one way to start again with a clean slate, with­out the con­stant triggers.
    But beware of the lim­i­ta­tions of a geo­graph­ic quick fix.
    Sim­ply mov­ing prob­a­bly won’t be enough.
    Some issues don’t depend on loca­tion, and these will fol­low you wher­ev­er you go.
  • Ask for support
    It’s eas­i­er to quit with support.
    Ask your fam­i­ly and friends for support.
    Join a sup­port group.
    The sup­port of men who’ve expe­ri­enced what you’re going through can be invaluable.
  • Keep your sched­ule full
    Plan­ning, tak­ing part in, and recov­er­ing from sex dates involv­ing Tina is time-consuming.
    When you quit, you may sud­den­ly find your­self with lots of free time.
    Bore­dom can some­times be a trig­ger and cause craving.
    So find oth­er things to fill your time.
    Ask friends and rel­a­tives to help you plan your weekends.
  • Throw away every­thing that has any­thing to do with chems
    Plan your last usage occa­sion, then chuck out every­thing that has any­thing to do with chems.
    Don’t just throw away the chems; bin any pipes, nee­dles, fil­ters, mir­rors and tourni­quets, too.
    Don’t for­get to check your bags and pockets.
    Throw every­thing away in a place you can’t get them back from.
  • Break off con­tact with your Tina network
    Delete all dat­ing apps from your phone.
    Remove and block users and deal­ers from your con­tacts, and clear your call history.
    If nec­es­sary, change your phone num­ber and open a new email account.
    Delete all your old social media accounts.
    In oth­er words, make it dif­fi­cult for old fel­low users to con­tact you, and you them.
    If pos­si­ble, have a trust­ed friend around when you do this, as say­ing good­bye to your old self isn’t easy.
  • Alco­hol and cannabis
    Some guys use alco­hol or cannabis to cope with the ini­tial with­draw­al symptoms.
    This can indeed mit­i­gate the symp­toms a bit.
    But tipsi­ness or being high can be a trig­ger, and can low­er your resis­tance to craving.
    A lot of relaps­es start with the use of alco­hol or cannabis.
  • A relapse doesn’t mean you’ve failed
    You may not suc­ceed in quit­ting for good on your first attempt.
    Don’t wor­ry; you won’t be the first.
    Remem­ber that relaps­ing is often part of the process.
    Keep try­ing until you succeed.
  • Self-sab­o­tag­ing thoughts and behaviour
    You may find your­self hav­ing self-sab­o­tag­ing thoughts.
    Your Tina-obsessed mind will con­stant­ly try to get you to use again.
    All sorts of excus­es, denials and rea­sons may cross your mind.
    Rea­sons why chems aren’t so bad, why you don’t real­ly have a prob­lem, or why you deserve a hit on the pipe for your efforts to quit.
    It often helps to see these thoughts as a sort of kid­nap­per and give them a name.
    For instance: “Steve the Tina mon­ster is try­ing to con­vince me that I’ve earned myself a hit.”
    This makes the thoughts eas­i­er to recog­nise for what they are, and to resist them.
  • Prac­tise your “Tina ele­va­tor pitch”
    Your ele­va­tor pitch is your clear and short stan­dard story.
    You might suc­ceed in avoid­ing old fel­low users, but some­one new may come along to sug­gest you use together.
    In sit­u­a­tions such as this, it helps to have a ready-made response.
    This pre­vents you from being caught off guard and pay­ing for it.
    Your ele­va­tor pitch needs to be con­cise and con­vinc­ing, to ensure that who­ev­er hears it under­stands that you no longer use Tina.
    Imag­ine a vari­ety of poten­tial sit­u­a­tions and, prac­tise your response with a friend, if necessary.
    Make up some­thing that feels right for you, and prac­tise until you can say it clear­ly and with conviction.

What to expect?
Phase 1 – The crash
Phase 2 – The pink cloud
Phase 3 – The wall
Phase 4 – Adaptation
Phase 5 – Recovery

What to expect?

Tina exerts a pow­er­ful influ­ence on the brain’s func­tions and on the way you expe­ri­ence things.
It takes a while for your brain chem­istry and old self to recover.

As you recov­er, you may need to build a new way of life.
Give this time, as it can’t be done overnight.

Your expe­ri­ence of quit­ting, and what you expe­ri­ence when, will be unique.
It’ll depend a great deal on how long you used for, how much you used, your age and your per­son­al circumstances.

When you quit Tina, you go through sev­er­al phases.
The dura­tion of each phase dif­fers from one per­son to the next.
Symp­toms and phas­es some­times overlap.

Phase 1 – The crash

Quit­ting Tina after a peri­od of inten­sive use typ­i­cal­ly trig­gers a phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al crash.
This can last sev­er­al days to a few weeks.
You will usu­al­ly expe­ri­ence severe crav­ing and mood swings dur­ing this period.

You may also expe­ri­ence phys­i­cal symp­toms such as tremors (uncon­trol­lable twitch­ing), extreme fatigue, a marked spike in appetite and sleep problems.
Some are plagued by inces­sant teeth grind­ing, clenched jaw mus­cles and night sweats.

Psy­cho­log­i­cal symp­toms often include depres­sion, anx­i­ety and despair.
Some expe­ri­ence para­noia and hallucinations.

In most cas­es, the worst symp­toms will start to ease with­in a week.

You may also have prob­lems con­cen­trat­ing, and may suf­fer mem­o­ry loss.
This can last sev­er­al months, and they’re often most pro­nounced in this phase.

You have to endure the crash in order to quit.
Phys­i­cal and men­tal refu­elling is the pri­or­i­ty dur­ing the crash period.
Your crav­ings will be severe, and your men­tal state unsta­ble, so it will be vital to avoid temptations.

❗ Tips & Tricks - The crash:

  • Allow time for a crash period.
    If nec­es­sary, take time off from work, social oblig­a­tions or your studies.
  • Get plen­ty of sleep, eat health­ily and drink lots of water.
  • Stock up on gro­ceries so that you can stay in bed for as long as you need.
  • Take mul­ti­vi­t­a­mins every day.
  • Avoid places, men and things that remind you of sex or chems.
  • Get rid of all usage equip­ment and any chems you had at home.
  • If you believe you may be of risk to your­self or to any­one around you, seek help!
  • If symp­toms of psy­chosis (such as severe para­noia or hal­lu­ci­na­tions) per­sist for days, or indeed wors­en, seek help!
  • Make sure men you trust are aware of your sit­u­a­tion, and make appoint­ments to see at least one of them every day.
  • Focus on each day as it comes, and try not to look too far ahead.
  • Under­stand that most of what you’re expe­ri­enc­ing is due to with­draw­al, and the symp­toms will pass.
  • You will be high­ly unsta­ble dur­ing this peri­od, so avoid mak­ing any impor­tant decisions.

Phase 2 – The pink cloud

Once the worst of the crash is over, it’s usu­al­ly fol­lowed by promis­ing peri­od of progress.
This often lasts sev­er­al weeks.
You’ll feel a bit stronger, both phys­i­cal­ly and mentally.
You may feel bet­ter than you’ve felt for a while, and every­thing will appear to be get­ting better.
Most guys feel relieved and euphor­ic dur­ing this phase.
How­ev­er, the first fan­tasies of using again often appear dur­ing this phase.

❗ Tips & Tricks - The pink cloud:

  • Don’t become com­pla­cent or over­con­fi­dent; acknowl­edge the seri­ous­ness of your situation.
    Relaps­ing is still a real danger.
  • If you haven’t done so already, delete all your old fel­low-user con­tacts and dat­ing profiles.
  • Use your ener­gy productively.
  • Get your­self an addic­tion coach, if nec­es­sary, or ask a bud­dy to pro­vide the week­ly sup­port and moti­va­tion you’ll need to stay sober.
    Find some­one who can help with prac­ti­cal issues like deal­ing with cravings.
    Don’t try to address under­ly­ing issues just yet; now’s not the time.
    It is, how­ev­er, a good time to find out what trig­gers you to use.
  • Bore­dom is a com­mon pit­fall with respect to relapsing.
    So, keep your­self busy, and don’t leave lots of emp­ty space in your schedule.
    Ask friends and fam­i­ly for help in fill­ing your days.
  • Set your­self dai­ly achiev­able goals, such as stay­ing awake from morn­ing till evening, going for a brisk walk, or call­ing two peo­ple every day.
  • Try to observe a nor­mal sleep sched­ule, and avoid tak­ing naps dur­ing the day.

Phase 3 – The wall

After a few weeks of ris­ing ener­gy lev­els and hope, you may run into a wall.
The real­i­ty of life with­out Tina often becomes bru­tal­ly clear at this point.
This usu­al­ly lasts a few weeks to a few months.

Body and mind are slow­ly recovering.
You may find it dif­fi­cult to con­cen­trate, stick to plans or retain information.
This is because your sys­tem is cor­rect­ing the chem­i­cal imbal­ance in the brain.

The crav­ing for Tina may still reoc­cur on a reg­u­lar basis.
Emo­tions sup­pressed with Tina often make them­selves felt in full now.
Lots of men find it hard to feel joy dur­ing this phase, and expe­ri­ence the peri­od as emp­ty and boring.
It’s a con­di­tion known as anhe­do­nia, and it also afflicts peo­ple suf­fer­ing from burnout, depres­sion or schizophrenia.
This, too, is the result of the dis­rup­tion of brain chem­istry (espe­cial­ly dopamine levels).
In addi­tion, Tina often dam­ages the dopamine receptors.
All of this takes time to recover.

This is often the riski­est period.
The com­mit­ment to quit­ting and the ear­ly enthu­si­asm have now faded.
It can feel as if noth­ing but bore­dom, depres­sion and despair lie ahead.
This stage may pro­duce a severe crav­ing for Tina and a strong desire for sex.
It’s as if your brain is doing every­thing it can to get you to use Tina again.

❗ Tips & Tricks - The wall:

  • Remind your­self that most of your symp­toms are caused by the imbal­ance in your brain.
    And that the brain’s chem­istry needs time to recover.
    The good news is that anhe­do­nia, brought about by using Tina, usu­al­ly sub­sides or van­ish­es alto­geth­er after a few months. 
  • The link between sex and Tina occurs very quick­ly in the brain.
    As a result, think­ing about sex can eas­i­ly trig­ger thoughts about Tina.
    But don’t only recall the euphor­ic horny sex you had on Tina.
    You will be inclined to do so because those mem­o­ries make you feel better.
    Force your­self to also remem­ber the unpleas­ant and dark aspects of using.
    Cre­ate the full pic­ture of your expe­ri­ence, includ­ing every bit­ter memory.
  • Relaps­es are often root­ed in bore­dom and loneliness.
    If you’re not already a mem­ber of a sup­port group, now is a good time to join one.
    No one will find you strange; every­one will be in the same boat.
    It’ll pro­vide struc­ture and dis­trac­tion, and you’ll be devel­op­ing new contacts.
  • Become a vol­un­teer, revis­it an old hob­by, vis­it friends, or get involved in activ­i­ties that put you in reg­u­lar con­tact with men who don’t use chems.
    In short, plan things that keep you busy and involve social contact.
  • Get reg­u­lar exercise.
    Move­ment will make you feel better.
    It’s sat­is­fy­ing, pro­vides dis­trac­tion and sup­ports phys­i­cal recovery.
  • Besides sports, you can also do yoga.
    It helps with relax­ation, and makes you aware of your body and mind.
  • Avoid men and places that sym­bol­ize temptation.
    Places like saunas, your dealer’s neigh­bour­hood, old slam­ming bud­dies and cer­tain types of parties.
    You are not yet ready to start dat­ing again or to vis­it places where there are like­ly to be lots of guys on chems.
    If you feel like going out, do so with sober friends.
  • Try to become aware of what trig­gers your cravings.
    Write these down and do your best to steer clear of them all.

Phase 4 – Adaptation

You’ve made it “through the wall”, and you’re start­ing to feel more ener­getic and sharper.
You’ll notice that you’re no longer trig­gered as eas­i­ly as you used to be.
The over­whelm­ing crav­ings will have grad­u­al­ly become less severe.
You’ll be resist­ing trig­gers week­ly now, rather than daily.
Depend­ing on the dura­tion and extent of your usage, you will prob­a­bly enter this phase after 4 to 6 months.
Your brain chem­istry is recov­er­ing its bal­ance and you’re slow­ly start­ing to enjoy life again.

Life is becom­ing man­age­able again.
Instead of mere­ly “sur­viv­ing”, you can now focus on your “new life”.
Your main task now is to adapt to a Tina-free life, phys­i­cal­ly, sex­u­al­ly, social­ly and emotionally.
You will become aware of what you lost as a result of using, and of any dam­age you may have caused.
This is often accom­pa­nied by mourn­ing, sad­ness, shame and guilt.
It’s not uncom­mon for uncom­fort­able emo­tions tem­porar­i­ly anaes­thetised by chems to sur­face again.

❗ Tips & Tricks - Adaptation:

  • Immerse your­self in med­i­ta­tion, yoga or mindfulness.
  • Pay week­ly vis­its to friends with whom you can be your true self.
  • Share your thoughts and feel­ings with them, or a sup­port group, on a reg­u­lar basis.
  • Keep a jour­nal of your progress and reread this regularly.
  • You will now be doing things sober for the first time in a long time.
    This may stir up some strong emotions.
    Be patient with your­self, accept that you may make mis­takes, don’t be too hard on your­self, and adjust what­ev­er doesn’t work for you.
  • It is vital that you do all you can to avoid trig­gers in the first phases.
    But the ulti­mate goal is to become aware of, and man­age, your trig­gers and cravings.
    Don’t give in to them; acknowl­edge the chal­lenge they pose, but respond differently.
    For instance, instead of giv­ing in and using, go jog­ging, or do some breath­ing exercises.
    The more often you do this, the eas­i­er it will become. 
  • Remain alert to the pos­si­bil­i­ty of sex arous­ing your craving.
    This will prob­a­bly be the source of most of your triggers.
  • You are now in the right phase to address deep­er and often long-stand­ing harm­ful patterns.
    Con­sid­er see­ing a psy­chother­a­pist, psy­chi­a­trist or sex therapist.
    You may in the past have used sex and Tina to tem­porar­i­ly ban­ish uncom­fort­able emotions.
    But you must now find new ways of deal­ing with them.
    If pos­si­ble, find a ther­a­pist with expe­ri­ence both of LGBT issues and of help­ing clients learn prac­ti­cal new life skills.

Phase 5 – Recovery

Your old pat­terns of usage are now a dis­tant mem­o­ry, after half a year to a year with­out chems.
To some, it can feel like a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent life; oth­ers still think about it every day.
Recov­ery is an ongo­ing process.
You remain sus­cep­ti­ble to unex­pect­ed triggers.

❗ Tips & Tricks - Recovery:

  • Remain alert to temptations.
  • Con­tin­ue work­ing on the per­son­al issues that con­tributed to your use of Tina.
  • Keep ask­ing your­self if you’re giv­ing your recov­ery the required priority.
  • Cel­e­brate your first anniver­sary with­out Tina and take pride in your achievement!