What is chemsex? What is a chemsex drug and what is it like to be on them? We asked a doctor who deals with patients who’ve tried it to find out what the risks are and how to quit.
In a two-part series, Ryan Lanji, an ambassador for sexual health charity Naz, spoke to Dr Achyuta Nori about why people take drugs with sex and the ways in which chemsex is changing.
Naz runs culturally-specific sexual health services for Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in London, and recently launched a campaign aimed at South Asian men who have sex with men called Sholay Love.
What is chemsex?
“It’s a term that’s been termed in the UK to describe sexualised use of recreational drugs,” Dr Nori told PinkNews.
“Particularly these are drugs used to enhance the sexual experience and in recent years has become first trendy and then normalised.”
Although chemsex parties have become “normalised,” they are not the only way in which people participate in chemsex.
He added: “It’s basically drugs used to enhance sex, it doesn’t have to be in groups.”
What is a chemsex drug?
The three main drugs—usually taken in combination—are:
- Crystal meth, also known as Tina
- Gamma-hydroxybutyrate, also known as GHB or GBL
What it’s like on chemsex?
“Crystal meth is basically a disinhibiting kind of drug so it basically makes you feel more sexual desire, it reduces your inhibitions so it makes you more horny,” Dr Nori explained.
“Then you’ve got mephedrone, which has got a similar sort of effect as ecstasy so it makes you very happy, everything is felt more.
“And then you’ve got GBL, which they call G, which makes you feel chilled—so when they’re talking about a ‘chill out’ that’s what they’re talking about.”
Watch the video above to see Dr Achyuta Nori explain the side effects of crystal meth, GBL and mephedrone.
How to quit chemsex
People fall into chemsex for a wide variety of reasons, says Dr Nori, including the need for belonging.
“It’s coded and people think that everybody knows and it’s normalised to an extent that if you are not part of that, it just feels like something you have to do to be a part of that group,” he explained.
“It’s a big problem—especially for people who are visibly different. So if you are an ethnic minority, you look different, you are automatically othered.
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“If you are LGBT and that’s not perceived as acceptable in your community, you’re trying to be part of something.
“Everyone needs to be part of something, that’s how we as human beings are wired.
“Quite often, if you are not belonging in within a community where you physically fit in, and then you’re trying to be part of a community where you are visibly different, then your ability to negotiate being part of that is already down.
“Quite often people just say this is the price I need to pay to be part of this, and it’s a downward spiral.
“I’m not saying that’s everybody and that’s one narrative—and I think it’s important to acknowledge that there is a spectrum of reasons why people get into it.”
Watch the video above to see Dr Nori explain how to quit chemsex and what you should do if you are worried or concerned about chemsex.
Where to get help
Dr Nori recommends visiting your local sexual health clinic, where they will be able to help and also signpost you to local chemsex-specific sexual health services.