Over the last decade, there has been a surge in the number of people engaging in what is known as Chemsex, thanks to the likes of dating sites like Tinder and Grindr.
Chemsex is a term that is used to refer to engaging in sexual activity while under the influence of drugs. But what makes it so dangerous?
Martin Preston, founder and chief executive at Private Rehab Clinic, Delamere, reveals exactly what Chemsex is, what the effects of using drugs for sex can be, and exploring the harmful impact it can have on both the mind and body.
What is Chemsex?
Chemsex, also known as ‘wired sex’ or ‘party and play’, refers to when people indulge in illicit drugs in order to heighten their own sexual experience. Drugs associated with Chemsex often include stimulants such as cocaine and MDMA, as well as crystal meth, cannabis, and ketamine.
“While each of these substances will impact people in different ways, the drugs associated with Chemsex are often used to prolong sexual activity, lower inhibitions and increase desire for sex. This is because, unlike alcohol, these drugs can have the opposite effect of impairing sexual performance and instead enhance it,” Preston said.
Why is engaging in Chemsex so dangerous?
Danger of developing a Drug Addiction
“As with abusing any kind of substance, there is a huge risk with Chemsex of developing an addiction. This is because many people who combine sex and drugs have revealed that a euphoric high is achieved, which they find impossible to obtain while sober,” Preston said.
“As well as this, because a person is engaging in two dangerous behaviors at once, Chemsex carries the risk of the individual developing a dual addiction, which refers to being addicted to two things at once and can be extremely difficult to overcome.”
Strain on or not being able to form healthy relationships
New partners may find it very difficult to accept that the only sex the individual is willing to indulge in is Chemsex. They could feel as though they are taking advantage, especially if they are not partaking in Chemsex themselves.
“Only being able to enjoy sexual experiences while inebriated could also lead to a lack of physical connections with people, as they are never truly experiencing any of the sexual activities they are involved in. As sex is a very important aspect of relationships for a lot of people, it could be a deal breaker when it comes to starting new ones, leading to isolation and feeling alone,” Preston said.
Drug use can be extremely expensive. “So, depending on how regular Chemsex is carried out, the individual could find that the activity starts to make a very big dent in their bank account – in a very short amount of time, too. This could, eventually, lead to debt or becoming behind on rent and bills, resulting in very serious life consequences, such as homelessness or owing money to bailiffs.”
Engaging in Chemsex can also be dangerous because it can lead to lowered inhibitions. This is because drugs such as cocaine, cause high levels of dopamine to be released, with more of the substance needed to achieve a high as the user’s tolerance begins to build. With this dopamine build-up comes a spike in confidence and energy, known as a ‘high’, that can lead people to feel almost invincible.
“This feeling of being indestructible could lead the user to take risks or engage in dangerous behavior, such as not practising safe sex (leading to STDs or pregnancy), or engaging in extreme forms of sex,” Preston said.
There are also the usual physical effects that come hand-in-hand with taking drugs when participating in Chemsex. These can include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Strain on the heart
- Headaches and migraines
- Lung damage
- Convulsions or seizures
- Erectile dysfunction
The body comes under immense strain when under the influence of drugs, but when combined with sexual activity, this is doubling the amount of stress – as the body is also attempting to facilitate intense physical activity.”
Why is Chemsex Addictive?
Chemsex is often a lesser talked about activity, but can still just as easily lead to addiction, as engaging in other behaviors. This is because someone who engages in Chemsex will receive a pronounced euphoric high from the drug they are using as well as the sexual activity that they are engaging in. For this reason, it can become extremely addictive.
“Someone who is addicted to Chemsex will often also find themselves taking bigger risks or engaging in more dangerous sexual activities, as the more they engage in it the initial high they felt at the beginning lowers as their body becomes immune to the effects of the drug and sex that once satisfied them. Like other addictions, Chemsex is progressive meaning that a person will suffer negative consequences as a result of their addiction but will be compelled to continue anyway,” Preston ended.