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  • OPENING TIMES: MON 8AM–7PM • TUE 8AM–7PM • WED 12PM–7PM • THUR 8AM–7PM • FRI 9AM–4PM • SAT 11AM–4PM • SUN CLOSED
  • We are CLOSED Good Friday 29th, Saturday 30th & Easter Monday 1st April.
  • Closed Bank Holidays
  • OPENING TIMES: MON 8AM–7PM • TUE 8AM–7PM • WED 12PM–7PM • THUR 8AM–7PM • FRI 9AM–4PM • SAT 11AM–4PM • SUN CLOSED
  • We are CLOSED Good Friday 29th, Saturday 30th & Easter Monday 1st April.
  • Closed Bank Holidays
  • OPENING TIMES: MON 8AM–7PM • TUE 8AM–7PM • WED 12PM–7PM • THUR 8AM–7PM • FRI 9AM–4PM • SAT 11AM–4PM • SUN CLOSED
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All about Chemsex

3mins

WHAT IS CHEMSEX?

Chemsex is the term used to describe the use of drugs to facilitate sex.

This typically involves the use of drugs like Crystal meth, GHB and mephedrone; these drugs are chosen because they generally help reduce inhibitions and increase libido.

Chemsex can happen in a wide range of situations, but is perhaps most common in the context of chemsex parties, otherwise known as ‘chillouts’. These involve using chems with others, usually at a private residence and can involve both 1-2-1 and group sex. Chems are often also used in sex on premises locations, such as saunas, sex clubs and organised sex parties.

Chemsex is most common in cities and large urban areas, as the widespread use of dating apps makes it easy to find sexual partners and chillouts. It is important to note however that the use of chems has increased across the whole of the UK over the last 10 years, including in more rural and coastal regions.

Although for some people, the use of chems can be fun and enjoyable, it can be difficult for others to retain feelings of control around using them. It is very easy for people to lose control of their chems use. For many, using chems can result in a range of challenging outcome across different areas of life. This can include negative impacts on health, emotional wellbeing, work, or family and social relationships.

From a healthcare perspective we would always advise that it is safest not to take unknown or illicit drugs at all. However, we know that taking recreational drugs is common as can be something that people enjoy as part of their social lives. If you are thinking about using chems or have already decided to do so it is important that you are informed of the risks involved and how to be as safe as possible.

We refer to this as harm minimisation/risk reduction. For example:

  • ‘Safer’ dosing/timing of G
  • Not mixing alcohol or ketamine with G
  • Not sharing needles if injecting or ‘slamming’ Crystal Meth
  • When to seek medical intervention for both yourself and others

Chemsex has also been linked to higher rates of STIs, including HIV. We would always recommend people take PrEP, or maintain their daily HIV medication if they are already living with HIV, and we encourage people to test every 3 – 6 months for STIs. 

At 56 Dean Street, our team will routinely ask in your appointment about chems use, whether you understand how to reduce the risks, and whether you feel in control of your use.

Many people using chems would like support with understanding their relationship towards chemsex; support controlling or even stopping their use altogether.

DECIDING WHAT YOU WANT

When we ask you if you feel in control of your chems use, we are inviting you to consider your relationship to chems. We may ask if anything may have changed, or if you feel chems use has become less manageable recently.

This can include:

  • Chems sessions lasting too long or being too frequent
  • Increasing the quantity of chems use, or finding it harder to set limits on how much you use
  • Taking more risks during sex you are having, or feeling unsafe in chems related sexual situations
  • Chemsex sessions affecting your work, relationships and finances
  • Not feeling comfortable to have sober sex, perhaps even finding the idea of it boring, anxiety provoking or stressful
  • Finding it difficult to say no to others using, feeling pressure to use more around friends or peers, or finding your social circle has narrowed so that finding social spaces with non-chems users is challenging

If you’re not sure what you want to do, it can be useful to do a tool called a Decisional Balance. This involves writing down the pros and cons of using chems, and the pros and cons of NOT using chems.

This may sound simple, but it can be difficult to honestly reflect on the impact that chems can have on our lives.

Exploring a decisional balance exercise can help us to understand more about what chems might have given us, and what it is currently doing to stop us moving in preferred directions in our lives.

It can help to give an objective picture of what effect chems has on your life; to look at your reasons for using them, and understand what you might want to do about this in the future.

For instance, if you know that chems are helping you meet people, then you might start to address this by finding different ways of meeting people away from apps, which can easily tempt people into using chems.

Another example might be using chems to help you feel confident having sex; it might be that you are using the chems in place addressing other sexual problems, and you might benefit from discussing this with a psychosexual therapist, for instance.

 

WHAT WE OFFER

If you want to discuss this with someone, you will be referred to our Health Adviser team for an initial assessment about your chems use.

These are usually 20-30 minute phone assessments initially, to discuss what your use currently looks like, advice around how to minimise harm if you are still using, and to think about what strategies you have tried before to reduce use.

We will then explore your goals around chemsex at this time, such as:

  • support with G dependency
  • reducing chems use
  • stopping chems altogether
  • support with relapse prevention

We can then offer short-term in-house support (max 3 sessions) with one of our specialist health advisors and referrals and signposting into other specialist groups and services.

Your local drug and alcohol service may be able to offer more intensive support, as funding for drug and alcohol services depends on which London borough you live in.

An up-to-date list of London borough based services can be found here, thanks to colleagues at GMHC:

https://menrus.co.uk/drugs-content/london-drug-alcohol-and-chemsex-support/

We are based within the tri-borough of Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham. If you live in any of these boroughs you can go directly to our local multi-disciplinary service, the Club Drug Clinic:

https://www.clubdrugclinic.cnwl.nhs.uk

There are a small number of services spanning across London, which can help you no matter where you live:
https://londonfriend.org.uk/antidote/

https://controllingchemsex.com

HELP & ADVICE