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What is Chemsex?
What is chemsex and why does it matter? A breakdown of the risks involved within the LGBTQ community.
Sex, drugs and rock n roll have gone hand in hand since the 1960s. But today, we’re going to focus on two out of three vices – sex and drugs, aka chemsex and “what is chemsex”.
What is chemsex?
Chemsex (also known as chemfun or party and play) involves using chrystal meth aka meth, Tina, methamphetamine drugs to enhance a sexual experience. The three most common drugs used are crystal meth, GHB, mephedrone and poppers. The use of drugs during sex can help intensify physical sensations, increase desire, reduces inhibitions and change psychological experiences. Chemsex can last for many hours and can be experienced with one or multiple partners or during lone masturbation.
However, participating in chemsex can lead to serious health issues, including triggering a drug addiction. Because chemsex is most common amongst the LGBTQ community, particularly with gay men, bisexual men and transgender women, there is also an increased risk of transmitting HIV between partners. In this article, we’re going breakdown the risks involved in chemsex and what you can do if you or a loved one needs help.
What is the connection between being gay and engaging in chemsex?
The connection between being gay and engaging in chemsex is multi-faceted. Firstly, some individuals in the gay community may turn to drugs like meth and liquid ecstasy during sexual experiences to suppress uncomfortable emotions such as shame, embarrassment, and internalized homophobia. These drugs numb these negative emotions, allowing individuals to enjoy sex without feeling guilty.
Additionally, chemsex can enhance confidence and sexual desire for many gay men, resulting in a perceived improvement in their sexual experiences. The combination of intense drugs and sexual activity can stimulate the brain’s reward circuitry, leading to heightened pleasure and satisfaction during sex.
However, it is crucial to note that engaging in chemsex can also lead to dependency. Regular use of drugs during sexual encounters can diminish the ability to experience pleasure without them, creating a reliance on substances for sexual gratification. This dependence often leads to an increased need for drugs, more frequent sexual encounters, and even potential sexual dysfunction.
Ultimately, while chemsex can provide temporary relief from negative emotions and enhance sexual experiences for some gay individuals, it also carries risks and can lead to dependency issues. It is important to approach the topic with caution and prioritize overall well-being when considering the connection between being gay and engaging in chemsex.
Chemsex and drug addiction
Chemsex comes with many risks, especially to those who are prone to drug addiction. Since it enhances a sexual experience, many rely on the use of drugs when having sex. The more often someone engages with chemsex, the more likely they are to become dependent on drugs, especially meth when participating in any sexual activity.
It is very common for people to experience a ‘comedown’ after taking the drugs, which usually involves periods of depression and feeling low. During a comedown, some will choose to continue the drugs again to avoid feeling the negative emotions, creating an addictive cycle.
Chemsex and the risk of HIV transmission
As well as addiction, Chemsex can also increase the risk of HIV transmission between sexual partners. With fewer physical inhibitions, participants may forget to use condoms or take the necessary medications to prevent transmission, even if they had intended to beforehand.
Some anti-HIV drugs can also react badly with chemsex drugs, and can often be lethal. One example, taking Ritonavir (a common HIV treatment) and with crystal meth together has been known to result in severe reactions and fatal overdoses.
How can one identify if they are struggling with a chemsex addiction?
Identifying if one is struggling with a chemsex addiction can be done by recognizing several signs and behaviors:
1. Dependence on drugs during sexual activity: A clear indication is the use of drugs to prolong sexual activity or to lower inhibitions.
2. Feeling shame or guilt: If engaging in gay sex leads to feelings of shame or guilt, it may be an indication of a potential chemsex addiction.
3. Sexual dysfunction caused by drugs: Drugs taken during sex can sometimes lead to sexual dysfunction, such as difficulties achieving or maintaining arousal or experiencing pleasure.
4. Increasing drug use for heightened sexual arousal: The desire to combine drugs or constantly seek higher levels of sexual arousal through increased drug intake can indicate an addictive pattern.
5. Multiple sexual partners or non-monogamous relationships if this is out of your norm: Having a significantly high number of sexual partners or being involved in non-monogamous relationships may suggest a potential issue with chemsex addiction if you are typically not comfortable with non-monogamy. Many people have non-monogamous relationships and are very happy.
6. Craving for extreme forms of sex: A persistent interest in engaging in increasingly extreme or risky sexual activities can be a warning sign.
7. Engaging in high-risk behaviors: If engaging in unprotected sex or other high-risk behaviors becomes a pattern, it may indicate a chemsex addiction.
It is important to note that while these signs can be indicative of a chemsex addiction, a professional assessment is necessary to confirm the presence of an addiction and provide appropriate treatment and support.
Why do men engage in chemsex?
Men, transgender or cisgender engage in chemsex for several reasons. Firstly, the use of drugs such as meth and liquid ecstasy helps to numb uncomfortable emotions that may be associated with gay sex, including shame, embarrassment, and internalized homophobia. By numbing these emotions, individuals are able to enjoy sex without feeling guilty, thus removing barriers that may have hindered their sexual experiences.
Secondly, chemsex has the ability to heighten confidence and sexual desire in men. The combination of drugs and sex can activate the brain’s reward circuitry, resulting in a more intense and pleasurable sexual experience. This heightened state of pleasure often leads to an overall perception of “better” sex, as the combined effects of drugs and sexual activity can create a sense of euphoria.
Lastly, engaging in chemsex can lead to dependence on these substances. When drugs are consistently used during sex, the brain becomes accustomed to the heightened reward and pleasure experienced in this context. As a result, individuals may find that engaging in sexual activities without drugs no longer provides the same level of satisfaction. This can lead to an increased tolerance, requiring larger doses of drugs to achieve the desired effect. Consequently, individuals may seek out more sexual encounters and potentially experience sexual dysfunction as a consequence.
In summary, men engage in chemsex to overcome emotional barriers, enhance pleasure and confidence during sexual experiences, and potentially develop a dependence on these drugs due to the hijacking effect on the brain’s reward system.
Recovering from chemsex and drug addiction
As mentioned before, participating in chemsex can have a lethal effect on those with a drug addiction. It can be a challenge to resist using drugs when having sex, especially if you have become dependent on them. However, there are ways to help treat an addiction and build a healthier sex life.
As Inspired Recovery is an LGBTQ-focused rehabilitation centre, many of our therapists and staff are not only experienced in treating chemsex addiction but are also well versed in the queer experience. Our goal is to provide a safe and affirming space for gay and bisexual men and women, and transgendered folks who are seeking recovery for their addiction.
If you or a loved one is struggling to break away from chemsex and drug addiction, call us for a free consultation on 561-899-6088.