Chemsex

'Chemsex’ is the use of a combination of drugs (“chems”) before or during sex by men who have sex with men. Generally, this is done at chemsex parties or ‘chill outs’ and multiple men will attend to get high and have sex. These sessions can last for days and can be dangerous to your health.

At Gaylife, we provide support information to those with issues around chemsex. 

Click one of the links below to find out more information about chemsex.

Chemsex FAQs

What is chemsex?

The term ‘chemsex’ means the use of a combination of drugs (“chems”) before or during sex by men who have sex with men. Generally, this is done at chemsex parties or ‘chill outs’ and multiple men will attend to get high and have sex. These sessions can last for days and can be dangerous to your health.

 

Why is it dangerous?

Using drugs reduces your ability to make sensible decisions, which could mean you don’t use a condom, or you have sex with someone who you wouldn’t have sex with if you were sober. Chems can affect your judgement and memory so you may not even remember if you used condoms or not. If you’re not using condoms and having sex with multiple partners, this vastly increases the chance of contracting an STI (including HIV). Chemsex is also linked with feelings of anxiety and depression due to the comedown from the drugs, and feeling used.  

 

What drugs are used?

Chemsex can refer to sex under the influence of any kind of drug, but three are more common than others. These are mephadrone (aka meow), GHB or GBL (aka G) and crystal meth (aka Tina, ice).

 

  • GHB/GLB (aka G) can make you feel chilled out, horny or high. The effects start after about 20 minutes to an hour and can last for up to seven hours or so. It’s particularly dangerous if used with alcohol and it can cause unconsciousness and people can go into a 'G sleep'.

  • Crystal Meth (aka Tina, ice) is a very powerful stimulant that can be smoked through a glass pipe, snorted or injected. It can make you feel high, wide awake, confident impulsive and very horny with fewer inhibitions. It increases your body temperature, heartbeat and blood pressure, with possible risks of a heart attack, stroke, coma or death – especially if mixed with other drugs (including some HIV medications and anti-depressants).

  • Mephadrone (aka meow, mcat) is a white powder that can be snorted, swallowed and injected. It makes you feel high, alert, close to those around you, confident and horny. Mephadrone can be very addictive, cause nosebleeds and has been known to cause death. Injecting mephedrone is particularly dangerous as it's much easier to overdose when injecting and it damages your veins and arteries.

What are the warning signs that chemsex is becoming a problem for me?

If you’re feeling upset, scared and out of control of your behaviour this could indicate that you need to take a look at the choices you’re making. You may want to think about cutting back or stopping your drug use if you’re:

  • Putting yourself or others at risk of HIV or other STIs

  • Aware that you had sex but can’t remember who with or whether you consented

  • Missing work or other social arrangements

  • Feeling guilty about your drug use or about things you did when you were high

  • Spending a lot of time thinking about drugs, or recovering from them

  • Unable to enjoy sex unless you’re high

 

Where can I get help?

You can get help from the sexual health clinic at Cobridge Community Health Centre. If you’re not ready to visit a clinic but want to talk about issues around chemsex, you can message us on Facebook​, or call our confidential sexual health information line.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, support is available at Grange Park.

Chemsex Advice

Already involved in chemsex? See our advice below to ensure you’re being as safe as possible when you go to a chemsex session.

 

Make sure you’re in the right headspace

Make sure you’re not taking drugs because you feel upset, angry or low. If you know that using drugs while feeling a certain way means you’ll end up out of control, consider alternative ways to feel better.

 

Know your limits

It’s easy to take too much or to mix drugs. If you don’t feel an effect come on soon after you take the drugs, don’t take more drugs, give it time as it may have a delayed effect and if you take more you could end up overdosing. Try to keep track of what you’ve taken and when.

 

Stock up on condoms and lube

You can pick up free condoms and lube from our Men’s Group or from Cobridge Community Health Centre. Take plenty in case it turns into a long session.

 

Don’t share needles

Sharing needles increases risk of giving or getting HIV as well as Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. If you think there is a possibility of you injecting drugs at a session, take clean needles with you. You can get free, clean needles at needle exchanges.

 

Get frequent STI tests

You should get a sexual health check-up between every sexual partner, so make time in your schedule for a trip to the sexual health clinic after each session.

 

Look out for each other

Keep an eye out for others. If you’re at a chemsex party with friends, agree to check in with each other at points throughout the night. Let friends know what drugs you’ve taken, so if you’re in trouble you will be able to tell health professionals what substances they used.

 

Know where to go for support

You can get help from the sexual health clinic at Cobridge Community Health Centre. If you’re not ready to visit a clinic but want to talk about issues around chemsex, you can message us on Facebook, or call our confidential sexual health information line.

Chemsex - Terms you need to know

Benzos – A “downer”. These include diazepam (Valium) and flunitrazepam (Rohypnol). The effects of these are similar to tranquilisers. They are highly addictive and can increase your overdose risk. Being sedated also means you may not be able to stay in control of any sex that takes place.

 

Booty bump – A method of taking drugs (usually crystal meth) up the bum. The drug is dissolved in water and a syringe without the needle is used to “bump” the drugs your bum hole. Sometimes a fingertip covered with powdered crystal is put into your butt.  This method of drug taking can increase STI risk as you may have powder or crystals up your bum, so if you bottom after booty bumping, this increases the chances of condom breakage and internal cuts and scrapes (making STIs easier to catch).
 

Chemsex - The use of a combination of drugs (“chems”) before or during sex by men who have sex with men. Generally, this is done at chemsex parties or ‘chill outs’ and multiple men will attend to get high and have sex. These sessions can last for days and can be dangerous to your health.

Chill out - Another name for a chemsex party. 

 

Crystal Meth (aka Tina, ice) - A very powerful stimulant that can be smoked through a glass pipe, snorted or injected. It can make you feel high, wide awake, confident impulsive and very horny with fewer inhibitions. It increases your body temperature, heartbeat and blood pressure, with possible risks of a heart attack, stroke, coma or death – especially if mixed with other drugs (including some HIV medications and anti-depressants).

 

Downers – A drug that makes you feel super relaxed. The more commonly-used downers are known as benzos. These include diazepam (Valium) and flunitrazepam (Rohypnol). The effects of these are similar to tranquilisers. They are highly addictive and can increase your overdose risk. Being sedated also means you may not be able to stay in control of any sex that takes place.

 

Ice - Another name for Crystal Meth, which is a very powerful stimulant that can be smoked through a glass pipe, snorted or injected. It can make you feel high, wide awake, confident impulsive and very horny with fewer inhibitions. It increases your body temperature, heartbeat and blood pressure, with possible risks of a heart attack, stroke, coma or death – especially if mixed with other drugs (including some HIV medications and anti-depressants).

 

G -  A nickname for GHB or GBL, a drug which can make you feel chilled out, horny or high. The effects start after about 20 minutes to an hour and can last for up to seven hours or so. It’s particularly dangerous if used with alcohol and it can cause unconsciousness, coma and death.

 

Mcat / Meow – Another name for mephedrone, which is a drug in the form of a white powder that can be snorted, swallowed and injected. It makes you feel high, alert, close to those around you, confident and horny. Mephadrone can be very addictive, cause nosebleeds and has been known to cause death. Injecting mephedrone is particularly dangerous as it's much easier to overdose when injecting and it damages your veins and arteries.

 

PEP – Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is a month-long course of HIV drugs that someone takes very soon after sex which had a risk of HIV transmission. The drugs are the same ones taken by people with HIV. PEP is an emergency measure to be used as a last resort, e.g. if a condom breaks or you have a ‘slip up’ from your usual safer sex routine. PEP is free of charge but can only be prescribed by doctors and if certain criteria are met. Sexual health and HIV clinics can provide it, as can A&E departments of hospitals.

 

Pins – Another name for needles/syringes (to inject drugs with).

 

Slamming - Injecting drugs directly into the veins with a needle and syringe. Sharing needles increases risk of giving or getting HIV as well as Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

 

Tina – Another name for Crystal Meth, which is a very powerful stimulant that can be smoked through a glass pipe, snorted or injected. It can make you feel high, wide awake, confident impulsive and very horny with fewer inhibitions. It increases your body temperature, heartbeat and blood pressure, with possible risks of a heart attack, stroke, coma or death – especially if mixed with other drugs (including some HIV medications and anti-depressants).

Clinical questions

One of our health advisers has answered some common clinical questions that you may have. 

What are the risks of chemsex?

The risks of chemsex are not well-documented but include:

Ability to consent,  regret, low self-esteem, mental health problems, physical harm from violence and traumatic sexual acts,, serious infections including syphilis, hepatitis C and HIV, impact on maintaining employment, loss of earnings, overdose and to the extreme, death.

 

There is also the risk of addiction (drugs like Tina and G) and serious medical complications from poly drug and alcohol use, multiple visits to GUM/health professionals for treatment/assessment of injuries, lack of regard for own safety and that of others, omitting to take necessary daily medications therefore putting others at risk and self at risk of prosecution.

 

 

If someone comes in to speak to you about chemsex, what will you ask?

We will assess all risks, both physical, emotional and from an infection point of  view and look at strategies with the patient on reducing these where possible. Consent, ability to consent, assault and safety will all be discussed. All information you share with us is confidential. 

 

 

What’s the confidentiality policy? Will you contact old partners if I have an STI?

No one can be informed of your drug use without your consent unless you disclose that an act has been committed that make us believe that another person has been or will be seriously harmed.

 

We will carry out partner notification as per usual (this can be done anonymously). Partner notification is a joint contract with the index case and is agreed in all relevant STI diagnoses.

 

What support services are available to people involved with chemsex in Stoke-on-Trent?

Stoke-on-Trent Community Drugs and Alcohol Service can give you advice and support if you feel like you need some support with reducing or stopping your drug use.  You can either them on 01782 283113. The GUM clinic at Cobridge Community Health Centre also has a specialist counselling service available for people who may require further psychological support.