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London study: Chemsex by gay men is often to mask self-esteem issues

  • That There Other David

    If you count alcohol as a drug the number of people doing “chemsex” jumps quite massively, straight or gay. Pretty much every single person under 30 would be included I would have thought.

    • David Reid

      Hi David we point out that alcohol use and concern about it are much more common amongst gay men than the use of chemsex drugs like Crystal Meth, mephedrone, GHB/GBL and Ketamine and concern about drug use. The study however does not focus on alcohol as part of chem sex. You can see the executive summary and the report itself at

      • kgb

        But you really should! How many deaths/unwanted pregnancies(not among gays, obviously)/std’s/hiv+ are related to being under alcohol high? Did you know that G is the safest drug out there toxicity wise? It’s not toxic to any of your organs or cells! Alcohol however is. There is exceptionally interesting BBC documentary – Britain’s most dangerous drugs where they re-evaluate substances by their harm, psychological/physiological effects/etc. according to what’s known about them today. Look at the history – thousands of years ago apache indians smoked their peace pipe and had their little chillout around camp fire. Moderation is the key.

        • Serkan M

          No matter how you look at it, there is a problem in the gay community because its doing nobody any good. Not the individual, not people coming onto the scene, not for families of a gay person…nothing.

        • Homo Demon

          The study was about drug use and sex within three London boroughs amongst gay men. It was not about straight people and the scope of the report did not seem to include the pipe smoking practices of the apache Indians. Forgive for finding you comments irrelevant.

          The report highlighted a clear link between high risk sex and the use of G, Tina and mephedrone. It did not establish a link between high risk sex and alcohol.

          What is also included in the report is the statistic that someone who has used any of those substances within the last four weeks has (roughly) a 20 – 25% chance of having HIV and being aware of that. If you factor in the number of people that do not know that they are positive then the problem of chem sex speaks for itself.

          The figures for GTM use and alcohol simply do not compare.

          I’m sure that your harm reduction advice of ‘moderation is the key’ would have a significant impact. A poster campaign could be launched and the slogan could become the successor to the ‘just say NO’ campaign.

          “Did you know that G

    • Serkan M

      Oh yes…the whole divert the attention to drink quote.

      • That There Other David

        Alcohol is a drug, one that does enormous damage on a widespread basis. That’s not diversion my friend, that’s just reality.

        • Serkan M

          But the problem with what you have done, is just divert attention to another problem. When you talk about illegal drugs, you cannot deny that there is a problem in the gay community. You must start somewhere by tackling the specific issue. To simply divert it to alcohol makes it state as if nothing should be done about it and I don’t think thats a responsible attitude to have for yourself or others around you.

          • That There Other David

            I make no distinction between legal and illegal drugs, nor do I make any distinction between the amount of drug use (legal or illegal) in the gay OR straight clubbing communities.

            What you are doing is mistakenly focussing on a small part of the real problem.

          • Serkan M

            Yes of course. I think you need to read the study because you are deluding yourself in order to continue your harmful habit.

          • Homo Demon

            What a load of old rubbish. Chem Sex and ‘drunk sex’ are two very different things, although they are both issues that need focus.

            The growing incidence of chem sex has a number of issues that cluster around it; not only in terms of the rise in HIV, but substance dependence / addiction, metal health issues and the implications that it has on social and occupational functioning. 

            Yes, gays get pissed and shagged. But they sober up and make it to work on Monday when the weekend ends. With the chem sex lifestyle sometimes the weekend just keeps on going.

            Each HIV infection costs the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds. I am not suggesting that there should be a blame game here on those that have ended up in that position. Rather, I am saying that this report adds substance to this emerging and growing public health concern and prevention money should be diverted to help addressing.

            And, please, those are who are use stigmatising language or are passing judgement here: BORE OFF. 

          • Serkan M

            So you clearly have noticed that theres a problem. Thats the truth. I have only stated what the report seems to focus on and if you don’t like it then don’t write a post and expect people to agree because it isn’t to your liking. Facts are facts whether you like them or not.

            People need to take responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming society and stigma. People need to grow some balls and get over themselves.

            It just comes down to developing morals and sensible attitudes and unfortunately this is what the gay scene seems to lack.

            I think the one you should be talking to is yourself because clearly from your reaction you (like most gays) seem to be in this a la carte or drug taking and sex, which is quite frankly, a little bit unnecessary in our society today. We have come a long way as a gay community, and now, due to some other peoples behaviours, we are going in reverse.

            Dont cry wolf when people now start attaching HIV to homosexuality because this is where it is heading.

          • Homo Demon

            Serken- I am a bit confused about what you are saying?

            I was trying to say:

            – Chem sex and drunk sex are two different things.
            – There is a problem and something needs to be done to recognise this
            – It’s not helpful, at his stage, to try to pass judgement on people or use stigmatising language. It is what it is. When people end up stuck in this cycle of a Chen sex lifestyle then they are pretty much beyond the stage of making rational decisions and the report seems to suggest that not many of the people stuck in that cycle want to be there. 

          • That There Other David

            My habit? I don’t take drugs, and hardly ever drink. So perhaps you need to drop a prejudice or two.

  • fagburn

    Or maybe gay men do it cause it’s fun?

    • Bill Nedra Bill

      Fun like it was in the 80s leading up to the AIDS crisis.

      • Jesus_Mohammed

        Bill, throughout the ages the excessive use of drugs and drink has been linked to a wide range of negative consequences. You ought to know that. I suspect you do. So cut the “drug = AIDS” bigotry.

      • Serkan M


    • PaulBrownsey

      Exactly. My intellectual nose wrinkles at the detection of a bad smell whenever I encounter this or that campaigner saying that people who go in for behaviour that the campaigner disapproves of do so because they “lack self-esteem”. In other words, they don’t really want to do it, oh no, it’s just that the poor things suffer from lack of self-esteem, which makes them fail to realise that they don’t want to do it, so it’s OK to ban it. I like collecting examples of disapproved-of behaviour that campaigners attribute to lack of self-esteem. Having sex with lots of people is one of the prime examples. “You had sex with six people last week, Barry? Oh dear. Lack of self-esteem there. I mean, you wouldn’t be doing that sort of thing unless you didn’t like yourself and were trying desperately to find validation in doing it with Geoff and Tom and Gary and Stef (ooh, I know him) and Rich and Ted. That’s all it was, you know. All illusory. Just trying to boost your self-esteem. The proper way to boost self-esteem is to get a job. How about this one, at a call centre?”

      All very reminiscent of old-style headmistresses: “Gels who snog with the boys from St Cake’s behind the pavilion have No Respect For Themselves.”

      • se17

        Hmm. Your ‘intellectual nose wrinkles’ at the sound of research you personally disagree with. An eminent series of doctors at a world-leading school of Medicine presents a paper using the interviews of 30 gay men who engage in chemsex.

        But you just know better than the results of that study.

        If you want to engage in scientific debate, get out there and do your own study. But the plural of anecdote isn’t evidence.

        • PaulBrownsey

          I don’t know what you mean by “personally agree with”. My intellectual nose wrinkles because, as a university lecturer in philosophy for 37 years, I did a good deal of reflection on the a priori assumptions about human motivation or other aspects of human nature that often underlie supposedly empirical research. Certain templates about what makes humans tick get established and then the empirical results are read off and interpreted in the light of those assumed templates, just as, with a bit of ingenuity, what happens to you during the day can be interpreted as fulfilling your horoscope in the newspaper. One of today’s major templates for attempting an understanding of human behaviour is to the effect that we are all basically ‘good’ and that if we do ‘bad’ things, why, it must be due to lack of self-esteem.

          • Ford Hickson

            It’s not all fun, nor is it all poor self-esteem. The study described a variety of (both positive and negative) motivations for having drugs on sex, summarised as:

            • Drugs were reported as having very positive effects in terms of facilitating or enhancing sexual desire and sexual pleasure.

            • Participants often described how drugs could provide a more intense sexual experience and the ability to connect with another individual, although some lamented the fact that this effect was short-lived.

            • Using drugs during sex meant that sexual sessions could be lengthened, enabling sex with more men and sex for longer with each man (although this was not always appreciated).

            • Sexual activity could be more diverse or adventurous while under the influence of drugs, although there remained the possibility that personal boundaries could be pushed too far.

            • A large number of men had experienced, or were currently experiencing, problems relating to self-esteem or sexual self-confidence, which drugs helped to overcome (or at least mask).

            • Some men had become reliant on drugs and found it difficult or impossible to have sex without them.

          • Libby

            You actually get paid for this?!!!!!!!!!

        • Libby

          30 gay men who engage in chem sex is hardly a representative sample size, is it?

    • Jesus_Mohammed

      I agree. I’m sure that indulgence in drink and drugs does mask self-esteem issues and other personal problems in some, but for most people indulgence in drink and drugs is way of changing mental state, i.e. a quick way into euphoria and pleasure. That’s why auntie sometimes like 3 sherries instead of 2!

    • Lawerence Collins

      Um, no, I don’t think so. I’m far from perfect. I know I’ve had my issues. I can admit now, the main reason I used to spend so much time in the gym, was self esteem issues. I’ve smoked pot, but that was about it and never when I was having sex.
      I hooked up with a guy once online. He showed up so tweaked out on something, I had to throw him out, he was so paranoid. Not my idea of a good time.
      No thanks! No pnp for me! Ever. To each their own.

  • Bill Nedra Bill

    I am happy to read that many gay men desire a stable partner with who to have long term sex, seeing how some continue to express that gay men are incapable of long term relationships even in the wake of gay marriage.

    • Jake28

      I think there is a vast difference between wanting a long term relationship and being capable of a long term relationship. I think all too many men and women sabotage their ability to be in a long term relationship by their own behaviour.

  • Arr U. Gaetü

    It took science to figure this out?

    Older Gay men in bars have always known they appear 10 years younger if you dim the lights, and young men get more promiscuous if pay for their first 5 drinks.

    “Alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, may produce all the effects of drunkenness.”
    ― Oscar Wilde

    “When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up on reading.” — Henny Youngman

  • Ezeٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْ

    Why don’t they do these studies on straight people too?

    • Libby


      • Ezeٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْ

        why yawn?

  • Libby

    What utter twits Sigma are. The boys do it because they can, and it’s fun. High disposable income than the average, no family commitments…it is hedonism and decadence rolled into one and a slippery slope for many. Gay marriage is now legal so that old canard about self-esteem is looking increasingly like the victim card it invariably always was in order to push a PC-driven agenda. I thought Sigma had been sent packing anyway when they were found to be manipulating the results of THT-commissioned sex surveys? Why are they still receiving public funds for spouting rubbish?

  • Ford Hickson

    “I have never really been able to have sober gay sex and then I think eventually what happened was crystal meth and getting so out of control. There was then all the guilt about what I was doing on the drugs. I could not escape from this cycle of guilt around sex and the drugs and it just goes backwards and forwards.” [Aged 24, last tested HIV negative]

  • jen

    I’m not sure a few days of same-sex marriage being legal will fully unwind decades of economic and social stigma.

  • Serkan M

    All I can say is…Gay men need to sort their act out.

    • Ron

      You mean some gay men. The gay “scene”, pubs and grindr etc is representative of a number of gay men, but not all of them. It is the most visible representation of gay society that we have, in my opinion, but we cannot and should not use what we see there, or think we see there (we all have our own prejudices) to judge gay society as a whole.

      Equally, we shouldn’t use the students’ union on a tuesday night club night in fresher’s week, or the night buses at 3am on a saturday night to judge students or heterosexuals as a whole. Have you sorted your act out Serkan M? If so, does that mean you are not gay?

      I think that one of the big differences between gay and straight behaviour, regarding drugs, sex and those things apparently immoral or unhealthy, is that maybe gays are more open about it – they don’t feel the need to hide it as much because of historic ostricisation. I don’t think we behave any differently, we are just less expected to hide it.

      I for one am tired of people making universal judgments about some particular cases.

      • Serkan M

        I am so bored with this libertarian non-sense. This idea of no one judging anyone and living in a flowery meadow where everyone gets along. The REAL WORLD just isn’t like that. People have been pushed by those in higher positions to make sure our societies are cohesive in order to dominate their own agenda, when in reality, many of us have many oppositions to each other. That’s life. To run away from this is denying human nature.

        In my opinion, straight people per head, take less drugs and have less sex. It may be wrong but in my experience the gay scene is more bitchy, more narcissistic, less accepting of people who are larger and more driven by looks. The very thing which we have tried to get rid of (stigma, HIV, superficial) has now made a come back due to the lack of responsibility of individuals.

        I am tired of people not taking responsibility for their actions and lying to themselves about the consequences in society by themselves and their reactions of others.

  • Kim Berlin

    .. It is hardly surprising that gay men seek refuge in chemsex – after all we have been told our entire lives that we are not equal, we have been told that our “dirty secret” would bring shame on our families — the list of negative statements about us is endless. So there should be no surprise that a percentage of our community seeks refuge in chemicals. I am sure for some those moments of indulgence are the only period of tranquility they have ever had in their lives…

  • Silly Old Bastard

    Why do these people expect support? You take your chances in this life without expecting others to wipe your behind if it all goes wrong.

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