It can be upsetting and confusing when someone we love or share a space with is using chems or chemsex problematically. We can all help by being kind and mindful of the complex challenges they are experiencing. But even being kind can be challenging, when nerves are frayed and patience is worn out. Sometimes there is a fine line between helping and enabling.
If they are asking for help, the best thing to do is to point them in the direction of professional support. It might be our chemsex support services. It might be their preferred sexual health clinic or their local drug and alcohol service. There are significant risks and complex psychological behaviours involved, so it is best left to health professionals. It’s ok to explain that to a person who asks you to help them. If there are immediate dangers, the right thing to do would be to contact emergency services or the police.
Sometimes there is nothing we can do and that’s a difficult reality. If someone is not asking for help, or refusing it, if their chemsex use appears to be self-harmful but not extreme enough to call emergency services or police, then there is very little you can do.
It’s OK to protect yourself from the chaos they might be causing you. It’s OK to refuse to help them if your patience is worn thin. Being boundaried is always a good thing, and communicating boundaries doesn’t mean you don’t love them; it doesn’t mean you don’t care. They are just boundaries, and whatever boundaries you set, however strict, you are entitled to them and they are valid. Be kind and loving if you’re able; be boundaried and point them in the direction of professional help with their chems use. That’s the right thing to do.
And look after yourself. Model self-care for them, that’s very helpful. If you need some emotional support, seek it. And if you need support or advice with chems, visit ADFAM’s website which has some very practical tips.