By definition, chemsex refers to using drugs to enhance and facilitate sexual activity.

Nowadays, this term describes the broad range of drugs and parties where gays and bisexual men meet up, consume illicit drugs, get high and have sex with one or more than one sexual partners. The term is particularly associated with the LGBT community.

 

Why do people go for chemsex??

In one line: to get high and have sex for a prolonged period of time without caring for anything other than sex. Drugs used in chemsex result in wild, uninhibited sex that can last for days without the need for sleep or food. There are also some psychological factors in it. Chemsex provides an easy escape way. It makes them feel empowered and confident. Feelings of shame, rejection and ‘not being enough’ are replaced (temporarily). It boosts their confidence in their sexual performance and ability.

They feel comfortable and accepted in regards to their sexual performance.

 

Which drugs are used in chemsex?

Worldwide, there are the following drugs used commonly in chemsex:

  • Mephedrone: It is also also known as meow meow or m-cat in secret language i.e. chemsex dictionary. This drug is similar to amphetamine. It lightens the mood and makes you feel euphoric by stimulating your heart and brain.
  • GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate): Also known as “G” in chemsex language and the sites promoting it. It causes relaxation and has an anesthetic effect. This leads to decreased inhibitions. Decreased inhibitions are the starting point of wildness and violence, ultimately.
  • Methamphetamine: This drug makes consumers feel empowered and energized. This is one of the most additive drugs used in chemsex. It causes brain damage in the long run.

Most of the times, these drugs are used as a mixture. Mixing some other substances and drugs such as alcohol isn’t also very uncommon.

 

Why is the trend of chemsex on the rise?

There are multiple social, cultural and psychological factors involved. The widespread use of dating apps such a Grindr or Scruff is one of these main factors. Thes apps have made it easier for the gay people to meet, do drugs, get high and have wild sex with multiple sexual partners (Spreading HIV isn’t the purpose of these sites. It’s just the bonus!)

By using these apps, it becomes easy to find partners or a group of partners for chemsex. These apps include some secret signals such as “chemfun”, “party and play” or “P&P. And the people looking for a drug and a partner to do chemsex with have just to show some signs on other profiles such as a diamond icon. Funny signals! Right? Well, they are more dangerous than funny.

A study discussed the influence of social media on chemsex in gays. This study concluded that social media and gay social networking apps may be a major source of influence on gay men’s perceptions and actual behaviours related to chemsex.

 

What does a chemsex party look like?

Chemsex would typically start with multiple men chilling in a room and doing drugs. Basically, a bunch of guys in their underwear getting high and losing their inhibitions! Losing inhibitions equals losing the brain. After that, a person finds himself having multiple partners, and having sex for a long time. The duration of chemsex can be up to multiple days without going to sleep or having a meal. The drugs can make people awake for many days. In short, a chemsex party is very intense and hedonistic. It’s just something more than just doing drugs.

 

What are the dangers of chemsex?

There are many. Drugs and sex are a dangerous combination, to start with. When both of these are happening at the same time, it leads to dangerous sexual inhibition. This leads to wildness and violence. Following short term psychological problems will arise from it:

  • Aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Perceptions of persecution
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Sweating and dizziness
  • Sexual assaults

The consumer feels invulnerable to harms or risks apart from feeling empowered, confident and energized. He will adopt risk-taking behaviours such as sharing needles, condomless sex or causing anal injuries. These risk-taking behaviours can cause the following diseases:

  • STDs such as syphilis and gonorrhoea
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV: AIDS experts in 2019 warned that Gay ‘chemsex’ was fuelling urban HIV epidemics

Some regions around the world are seeing new HIV cases. Chemsex is one of the main reasons for it.

In the long run, chemsex causes many serious problems. It just messes up your life. All the dangers associated with chemsex exacerbate when the drugs are mixed with other substances such as alcohol. Following long terms issues will arise from chemsex:

  • Addiction
  • Dependency
  • Decreased sexual functioning
  • Worsening of the already present physical diseases
  • Damage to brain ‘Cognitive problems’
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Mental health problems such as depression and suicidal ideation

 

A tragic incident:

A piece of news caught limelight a couple of years ago. 18-year-old boy Miguel Jimenez was found dead from an overdose. His 34-year old boyfriend, Henry Hendron, was later arrested charged with supplying drugs. Henry never asked for sympathy and he always felt guilt for the death of his boyfriend that happened due to overdose in chemsex.

 

Read the interview of Henry to understand the tragedies associated with chemsex.

 

What should be done?

LGBT community is itself raising voice and concerns about the gruesome dangers of chemsex. The routine of chemsex just disrupts the daily routine of a person and leaves him mentally handicapped and physically unhealthy. Not sleeping for three days or not eating, of course, comes under the category of disrupting life.

So, if you’re curious about chemsex, just don’t be! Stay away from it. Once you start doing the drug, it will become an diction. Addiction would make your life a vicious cycle for you. You feel trapped but won’t be able to get out of it. It will engulf you further and further.

If you are gay and have been attending chemsex parties or is attending them currently, it’s sincere advice to seek help. It may not be easier. Drug use and gay sex can act as a barring stigma to those who need help. However, it is the solution. LGBT people are particularly susceptible to other mental health issues. They already have a pre-existing mental health problem.  When this, mixes up with drug-heavy chemsex parties, it would prove havoc for their mental and physical health. Silence, secrecy and stigma may try to prevent one from seeking help. However, it is a life-saving solution.

In short, don’t get involved in chemsex and drugs. And if you’re trapped, try to come out of it by seeking medical and psychological help as soon as possible.

 

References:

  1. Pufall, E. L., Kall, M., Shahmanesh, M., Nardone, A., Gilson, R., Delpech, V., Ward, H., & Positive Voices study group (2018). Sexualized drug use (‘chemsex’) and high-risk sexual behaviours in HIV-positive men who have sex with men. HIV medicine, 19(4), 261–270. https://doi.org/10.1111/hiv.12574
  2. González-Baeza, A., Dolengevich-Segal, H., Pérez-Valero, I., Cabello, A., Téllez, M. J., Sanz, J., Pérez-Latorre, L., Bernardino, J. I., Troya, J., De La Fuente, S., Bisbal, O., Santos, I., Arponen, S., Hontañon, V., Casado, J. L., & Ryan, P. (2018). Sexualized Drug Use (Chemsex) Is Associated with High-Risk Sexual Behaviors and Sexually Transmitted Infections in HIV-Positive Men Who Have Sex with Men: Data from the U-SEX GESIDA 9416 Study. AIDS patient care and STDs, 32(3), 112–118. https://doi.org/10.1089/apc.2017.0263
  3. Lewnard, J. A., & Berrang-Ford, L. (2014). Internet-based partner selection and risk for unprotected anal intercourse in sexual encounters among men who have sex with men: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Sexually transmitted infections, 90(4), 290–296. https://doi.org/10.1136/sextrans-2013-051332
  4. Guerras, J. M., Hoyos Miller, J., Agustí, C., Chanos, S., Pichon, F., Kuske, M., Cigan, B., Fuertes, R., Stefanescu, R., Ooms, L., Casabona, J., de la Fuente, L., Belza, M. J., & Euro HIV EDAT Working Group (2020). Association of Sexualized Drug Use Patterns with HIV/STI Transmission Risk in an Internet Sample of Men Who Have Sex with Men from Seven European Countries. Archives of sexual behavior, 10.1007/s10508-020-01801-z. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01801-z
  5. Edmundson, C., Heinsbroek, E., Glass, R., Hope, V., Mohammed, H., White, M., & Desai, M. (2018). Sexualised drug use in the United Kingdom (UK): A review of the literature. The International journal on drug policy, 55, 131–148. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2018.02.002

 

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