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About chemsex


Publication1Chemsex is shorthand for gay men taking drugs during sex, first appearing on apps like Grindr, Bareback Real Time (BBRT), Gaydar, and Scruff (and yes, there are lots of others). However, it's not the same as recreational drug use (eg: popping a pill or smoking a joint), rather it is a specific form of recreational drug use and here are two definitions which overlap:

Chemsex: a working definition | Reshape

"Chemsex is a common term used by gay men on sexual networking sites and smartphone Apps. Chemsex is not the same as recreational drug use. It's a specific form of recreational drug use. Chemsex is defined by the use of three specific drugs ('chems') in a sexual context. These three drugs are meth, meph and G.

  • Methamphetamine (crystal/ crystal meth/ Tina/ meth)
  • Mephedrone (meph/ drone)
  • GHB/ GBL (G, Gina)

Chemsex involves using one or more of these three drugs, in any combination, to facilitate or enhance sex, with or without other drugs. Chemsex commonly refers to sex that can sometimes last several days. There is little need for sleep or food. The heightened sexual focus enables more extreme sex, for longer, often with more partners and with less fear of STIs including HIV and HCV. Sharing injections is common."

Chemsex: a working definition | Reshape

The Chemsex Study | Sigma Research | Mar 2014

"The term ‘chemsex’ or, to a lesser extent, ‘Party and play’, has entered the vocabulary of certain sections of the gay population is a behaviour that has attracted significant media attention. Chemsex is commonly understood to describe sex between men that occurs under the influence of drugs taken immediately preceding and/ or during the sexual session.

The drugs most commonly associated with chemsex are crystal methamphetamine (hereafter referred to as ‘crystal meth’), GHB/GBL, mephedrone and, to a lesser extent, cocaine and ketamine. All except ketamine, have stimulant properties in that they typically increase heart rate and blood pressure and trigger feelings of euphoria, but crystal methamphetamine, GHB/GBL and mephedrone also have a common effect of facilitating feelings of sexual arousal. These drugs are often taken in combination and are commonly associated with sexual sessions occurring over extended periods of time, sometimes involving large numbers of sexual partners."

 The Chemsex Study | Sigma Research | Mar 2014

The chemsex narrative

Gay men have been taking drugs for years and it wasn't so long ago we were dropping 'E's. Today it's 'chemsex' and professionals are over it like a rash with opinions, forebodings perspectives, predictions, and reports. What is new, however, is that if and when guys eventually crash and burn the consequences are more damaging, more lasting, and require more complex and comprehensive intervention recovery and support.

However, "...the needs of men engaged in chemsex are not best served by suggesting chemsex is universal. In fact, suggesting that it is universal runs the risk of giving the impression that it is both inevitable and impossible to escape. Most gay men in Britain, even in its gay centres, are not having chemsex." [Ford Hickson, The Conversation, 21 Jun 2016].

The truth is the 'chemsex' narrative is still unfolding, and we have a way to go before we have a more rounded understanding its its true extent and (long term) implications for gay men and our community.

Terms you may have heard

  • Slamming is another word for injecting and the practice of dissolving crystal meth or mephedrone in water before injecting it into yourself or someone else
  • PnP is shorthand for 'Party and Play' used to arrange 'sex and drugs' hook-ups online where there will be drugs, or you may be expected to bring some
  • parTy means the use of Tina aka crystal meth (which is smoked or injected
  • HnH means high and horny
  • Chem friendly means they use any combination of Methamphetamine (crystal/ crystal meth/ Tina/ meth), Mephedrone (meph/ drone) or GHB/ GBL (G, Gina) ... though others drugs may be used.

Unfortunately these and other terms are often lumped together which is not necessarily helpful in understanding what is happening and why.

Finding out more

Slamming | GMFA
Getting slammed | GMFA
Slamming | Friday/Monday | THT
Chemsex exposed | GMFA FS #147
Alchemy | Three Flying Piglets

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