What is chemsex?
Chemsex is the use of drugs during sex, in order to increase desire and reduce restraints. It is most common in the MSM community (men who have sex with men) and is also associated with the use of dating applications (such as Grindr). The drugs most commonly associated with chemsex are crystalline methamphetamine (more info here: http://drogy.org/co-je-pervitin/), synthetic cathinones (mephedrone, 3MMC, 4MMC) and GHB / GBL (gamahydroxubutyrate / gamabutyrolactone) more info can be found here: http://drogy.org/ghb/. These drugs are referred to as “chems”, although other substances such as viagra, alcohol, ketamine, cocaine or popper are often used. These drugs are not commonly considered “chems”, but rather considered as a supplement to drugs that evoke a feeling of excitement and arousal. The combined use of highly stimulating meth, but also cocaine, ecstasy and MDMA, which inhibit and remove initial barriers, with the use of ketamine and GHB / GBL, which loosens a person up, can create a long and intense sexual experience. However, such pleasure carries greater health risks, as vigilance and caution are significantly reduced under the influence of these drugs.
People have been using drugs and alcohol for sex for thousands of years, and drugs used in the context of chemsex also have a history. These substances can be, and of course are, used to increase enjoyment and pleasure in non-MSM communities. However, there are several reasons why chemsex is defined mainly by men who have sex with other men. The uniqueness of homosexual sex and homosexual culture, and especially the stereotypes and stigmas around it, often prevent the release and enjoyment of sex between homosexuals. These may be social attitudes that see the homosexual act as unnatural, but also religious attitudes where most religions do not tolerate such sex. However, the trauma and stigma of the possible spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases can also affect gay sexual pleasure. Last but not least, chemsex is defined by the technological revolution. Thanks to smartphones and applications, contacting and meeting gays is much easier than in the past.
As sex under the influence of stimulant drugs can be several times longer and chemsex meetings with several participants can last several days and nights without a break, health risks increase also due to reduced caution.
Therefore, it is important to remember in this exciting ride several harm reduction principles that minimize the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and overdoses:
- The use of condoms should be a necessity.
- Use lubricants – and a lot! The lubricating gel helps prevent minor injuries and bleeding. Don’t use saliva to lubricate – they dry very quickly. It is important to have your own lubricant. Make sure you have it well marked. Avoid using coconut oil and other vegetable oils, butter and body lotion. Oil-based lubricants damage the surface of the latex condom and there is a danger of a rupture.
- Paper handkerchiefs – keep them handy to clean up oil residue.
- Chillout corner – it is good to have a reserved place where you can sleep or relax for a while.
- Spray with disinfectant and / or alcohol swabs – regularly clean all utensils before use. It is important to first clean them of oil residues. Also, always disinfect your hands after changing partners or roles.
- Towels – have enough of them ready and always use your own.
- Basket or washbasin with diluted disinfectant and water for used vibrators and toys. Leave them there for at least 5 minutes after use. Make sure there are no traces of oil left on them. Then wash them with clean water before using them again.
- Bottles with drinkable water – people sometimes forget to drink. Therefore, place them in a visible place. However, do not drink large amounts of water at one time. Try to drink less, but regularly every half an hour.
- If you use drugs by injection, always use your own equipment (needles, water for injection, caps) and do not lend them to anyone!
- If you take drugs by inhalation, use your own roll. A good tip is to use different colored straws.
- Useful tools can be a stopwatch (to measure the time since the last dose used), a scale (to measure the size of the dose) and a notebook where you mark what you have taken and how much.
- If you’re going to use a drug you haven’t had experience with before, use a smaller amount to find out what effects it has on you.
Chemsex itself may not be a problem if these principles are followed. Remember that its philosophy is relaxation and freedom. Therefore, if you feel that you are forced into something that you do not identify yourself with, you always have the right to say no.
However, the road back to drug-free sex is more difficult. People who have previously practiced chemsex say that normal drug-free sex is boring for them and hard for them to get sexually aroused. The reason is that their brain is chemically unbalanced. Methamphetamine floods the brain with dopamine, which evokes feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Repeated and abnormally high dopamine release and methamphetamine use damage the neurotransmitters themselves. The longer and more intense you have been to chemsex, the longer it will take you for your brain to recover and enjoy drug-free sex. This can take several months to more than a year.
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Kupšovský, D. Sem sjetej a nadrženej. Máš čas:-) Láska, chemsex a něžnosti na prahu 21. století. Dokumenty Dvojky [online]. Český rozhlas Dvojka, 2017.
McCall, H.; Adams, N.; Mason, D.; Willis, J. (2015). What is chemsex and why does it matter?
Van Diepen, G. Chems & Sex. In Mainline (2018)