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What Is Chemsex And What Are The Risks

The facts about having sex while under the influence of drugs…

“Chemsex” is a term that refers to the use of drugs, such as methamphetamine, GHB/GBL, and mephedrone, before or during sex to enhance sexual experience, particularly in some parts of the gay community. The phenomenon is not exclusive to the gay community, but it has been most commonly associated with men who have sex with men.

Chemsex is not a new phenomenon, nor is the stigma that surrounds talking about it. Read on for more information about having sex while under the influence of drugs.

Understanding Chemsex

Chemsex typically involves the use of specific drugs during sexual sessions. These sessions can last for several hours or even days, often involving multiple partners. It is a behaviour observed in various parts of the world, but most studies and reports have focused on urban areas with significant 2SLGBTQI+ populations.

Drugs commonly used:

Chemsex is most simply defined as sexual activity while under the influence of drugs, which can include the likes of cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine. However, the three drugs that are most commonly associated with it are:

  • Methamphetamine: Known for increasing libido and stamina, it can also reduce inhibitions.
  • GHB/GBL: Often used for its euphoric and disinhibiting effects, but it’s notorious for its narrow margin between the dose for the desired effect and overdose.
  • Mephedrone: Known for inducing a high that enhances sexual experience and sociability.

Risks associated with Chemsex

The risks of varies Chemsex vary from person to person, however there can be a number of physical, mental and social risks.

The physical health risks can include:

  • Overdose and Poisoning: The risk of overdose, particularly with drugs like GHB/GBL, is high due to the difficulty in measuring doses.
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): Engaging in unprotected sex, often a by-product of drug-induced lowered inhibitions, increases the risk of STIs including HIV, hepatitis C, and others.
  • Drug Dependency: Regular use of these substances can lead to dependency and other long-term health problems.

The mental health risks can include:

  • Psychological Dependency: The association of sexual pleasure with these substances can lead to psychological dependency.
  • Mental Health Disorders: Prolonged use can exacerbate or lead to mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and psychosis.

The social and behavioural risks can include:

  • Impact on Relationships: Chemsex can strain personal relationships and lead to social isolation.
  • Risky Behaviours: Individuals may engage in risky behaviors like unprotected sex, sharing needles, and putting themselves in vulnerable situations.

Addressing the issue

While Chemsex may be seen by some as a way to enhance sexual pleasure, but it does carry significant risks. A multi-faceted approach involving awareness, healthcare, community support, and policy is essential to address the health and social challenges posed by this phenomenon.

  1. Awareness and Education: Increasing awareness about the risks associated with chemsex is crucial. This includes education on safer sex practices, drug harm reduction strategies, and the availability of support services.
  2. Healthcare Support: Providing accessible healthcare services, including mental health support, addiction services, and sexual health clinics, is vital. These services should be non-judgmental and tailored to the needs of those engaging in chemsex.
  3. Community Support: Support from the community, including peer support groups and community-based organizations, can offer practical and emotional support.
  4. Research and Policy: Continued research into the prevalence, risks, and effective interventions for Chemsex is important for informing public health policies and responses.

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