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The perils of chemsex

For many, the heightened sensations that it can foster can be addictive. For others, drugs are used during sex to lessen the stigma they may feel about their sexual orientation, to increase confidence and to try and combat mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. This, in itself, makes the concept of chemsex problematic.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels.com

Gay and bisexual men are 1.6 times more likely to use drugs during sex than their hetrosexual peers. These drugs tend to be chosen with an aim to increase pleasure and to free individuals of inhibitions. This makes sexual experiences more intense.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels.com

The advent of chemsex in the 1990s was related to drugs already on the underground market such as cocaine, meth and speed. However, as the demand for safer drugs has surged, so has the manufacture of drugs tailored specifically for the chemsex market. But as with any drug you put into your body, the immediate pleasure that it can create is often counterbalanced with a whole lot of pain.

Being Unsafe

The drugs of choice for many proponents of chemsex are GBL and mephedrone. The former is a sedative, a thick liquid that is often mixed with a drink and swallowed. This drug is easy to ingest, and the effects are pretty instant. People can feel euphoric, invincible and often this is accompanied by a drowsiness. This can be dangerous if you take GBL in an unfamiliar situation. The pleasurable sensation of euphoria can lead to poor decision making, leading to unsafe sex. Your risk of HIV or other STIs may be increased leading to worry and stress. Your safety is paramount – chemsex or not.

Side Effects

While you might be tempted to try mephedrone for its stimulating effects, you may find yourself having an adverse reaction. This can lead to panic, anxiety and paranoia. These sensations are difficult to deal with, especially if those around you are also under the effect of the drug. People sometimes choose to smoke this drug using trippy pipes or they snort it. It is highly addictive, and can be detrimental to your health.

Should You Try It?

Chemsex is common amongst gay men for a variety of reasons. For many, the heightened sensations that it can foster can be addictive. For others, drugs are used during sex to lessen the stigma they may feel about their sexual orientation, to increase confidence and to try and combat mental health issues such as depression or anxiety. This, in itself, makes the concept of chemsex problematic.

It is risky. Those men who choose to engage with chemsex are five times more likely to contract HIV than those who do not in the UK. This is because of a sense of shame associated with taking drugs in any capacity. More men with HIV are engaging in the practise and often do not tell those individuals that are HIV negative of their status. As with any drug use, after the addictive high comes the chronic and depressing lows. It is this period that can have a detrimental impact on work life, relationships with friends and family and an individual’s self esteem. 

There should be no need for drugs if sexual experiences are positive in the first place. Engaging in chemsex is often a result of a toxic masculinity stigma and abstinence is always the end goal.

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