Let's Debate: chemsex QUICK LINK: Get to know chems It seems we can’t go a week without an article citing just how fucked up the gay community is and that we’re all crystal meth heads who are fucking 100 guys a night in some stranger’s living room. So here at FS we decided to ask two gay men, one who frequently hosts chemsex sessions and one who used to but stopped, about all things chemsex. Is chemsex really so bad? DAVID SAYS: NO Who are you? My name is David. I’m 26-years-old from Doncaster, but now living in London. I’ve been single for four years now. I currently work in the financial sector and live by myself. So how did you get into chemsex? My first experience with chems was through an invite to a sex party on Grindr. I was home, alone, drunk, horny and when then invite came I found the idea of going to a sex party fascinating. When I got to the party there were about five guys there. Some were already having sex and it turned me on so much I just dived in and started to suck someone off. After a few minutes the host offered me a drink of G. I didn’t really know what it was but he told me it would make me super horny and it was fine. I drank it and he was right. It really did make me horny. I had the best sex I’d had in such a long time. It was really thrilling and the next day, even though I had a major comedown, I was left with a high and I knew I wanted more. So what happened next? I kept in contact with the host and told him to text me when his next party was on. He kept his promise and I went to lots more. I’ve even started hosting my own parties. Sometimes they are awful but mostly they are fun. What happens at a chemsex party? At my parties I try to keep the buzz going. I invite as many people as I can to keep fresh blood in the room. Most of the guys who show up do so through Grindr invites. You can get a bit bored with the same people so when someone new steps in you go for him. Many of the men at the parties switch it up between partners, or in a group. Some like to watch and others like to chill and chat on Grindr. Sometimes the sex is constant and other times you can go hours without any action happening. Has anything ever gone wrong? Yes. I’ve had several guys pass out and we’ve had to call an ambulance. These guys were new to the whole chemsex thing and didn’t know how to dose correctly or when to stop. You get that quite a bit with tourists or guys from countries where English is not their first language What type of guys come to a chemsex party? Anyone and everyone. Because we are in London we get lots of South Americans, lots of guys who have recently moved to London from different parts of the UK. I once had a minor gay celeb turn up but he didn’t stay long and I don’t think he took anything. Do you know the HIV status of the men you have chemsex with? Yes and no. Sometimes you ask, sometimes you don’t. It depends on how horny you are. You are taking a chance but I’m OK with that. Personally, I think I’m HIV-negative but I’m not sure. I’ve had no symptoms. What’s the number one thing you hate about chemsex? Guys who show up, think they know everything, but don’t know how to dose correctly and won’t listen. They are the ones who ruin the vibe. Would you say chemsex is a good or bad thing? Neither. It is what it is. I love it because it allows me to live out my porn fantasies but I have learnt how to control my chemsex use. I haven’t let it overtake my life. I still work and make sure it doesn’t interfere with my professional life. But for the gay men who can’t control it, I have seen many of them let it overtake their lives and it becomes a bad thing. What’s your advice to gay men who might engage with chemsex in the future? Learn how to dose. Learn when to stop. Be in control. Chemsex can be really fun but it can also fuck you up. You have to be ready for the highs and the lows. ALEX SAYS: YES Who are you? I’m Alex, a 29-year-old designer from Croydon. So how did you get into chemsex? My friend introduced me to it. We were on a night out in Vauxhall when I got a text to come to a party. We went and it turned out to be a chemsex party. Lots of people fucking in one small room. It was like a mini gay sauna without the smell of shit. I was very naive at the time – there wasn’t much information about chems or how bad they were. I was offered some meph which I took. I still remember the rush I got. It was exciting at the time and made sex feel like something new. It became addictive very quickly. So what happened next? Well, obviously I wanted more. I stayed in contact with a few people I met there and was invited to more sex parties. It became addictive and I stopped going out to clubs and only attended sex parties. At the beginning I would only take drugs every couple of parties or so but after six months I can admit I was a full blown chemsex addict. It took over my life. I would live for the chemsex parties. I ended up taking sick days, annual leave and even faked a family death so I could go to parties. Some would last three to four days and some would only be a one nighter. One night I attended six parties within the Vauxhall area. What drugs were you taking? It started off with meph, then I moved on to G. In the latter stages of my chemsex life I was on crystal. At one point I was doing all three. Did anything ever gone wrong? Yes. I ended up in hospital several times. I overdosed on G and woke up in A&E. They told me what happened but I laughed it off and went home with what felt like a major ‘hangover’. But it didn’t stop me. I was once told I was so out of it the people at the party thought I was dead, only for me to come to life and start fucking again. The biggest thing to go ‘wrong’ was that I became HIV-positive. It was bound to happen. I wasn’t using condoms. The drugs turned me into a slut and I was taking cock after cock. Sometimes I didn’t even see the face of who was fucking me. I remember bending over in someone’s living room with my arse in the air begging for men to dump a load in me. It was my own fault for becoming positive. I’ve also been diagnosed with hep C, gonorrhoea and herpes. So where did it all change for you? After being told I was HIV-positive and hep C positive my life changed. I first had to go on medication for hep C. The medication made me feel bad all the time and I ended up in hospital a few times because of it. This made me re-evaluate my life choices. There was one day I was so sick I couldn’t get out of the bed so I sat staring at my refection in the mirror wondering where it all went wrong. I made the decision there and then to start making better choices. I’m now hep C free and on medication for HIV. I’ve been undetectable for over a year now. It’s been great to get my life back in shape. Do you regret being involved in chemsex? Yes, absolutely. It ruined my life. I was never the type of person who could control my urges so something like this was always going to affect me. I knew it would too, but I allowed it. Even today I still have urges to grab a bag of meph and say fuck it, but I know that high will be followed by a major low and I don’t want to go backwards. What’s your advice to gay men who might engage with chemsex in the future. Don’t do it. If you are someone like me who can’t control their urges then chemsex is not for you. The drugs, the sex, the highs are addictive. It will consume you and make you a different person. A shell of your former self. I’m sure there are lots out there, and I’ve met some, who can control it but in my experience I really wish I hadn’t got involved with it. I’ve now learnt that there’s more to life than sex. AND THE WINNER IS......THERE IS NO WINNER. You may feel that Alex is the winner of the ‘chemsex debate’ because he shows that there is a major downside to doing chems. And yes, Alex is correct. Some people lose control, but others can manage their drug use without it affecting their lives at all. There are no winners in the chemsex world. Only users. Some users can’t handle their drug use and others can. The easiest way to avoid the dangers of chemsex is never to do it. But if you are going to take chems for sex, it’s important you inform yourself about dosing and what to do in an emergancy. The drugs that are involved with chemsex are not drugs to be taken lightly. They are dangerous, are highly addictive and can kill you if you take a bad batch or take too much. It isn’t helpful to make users feel bad about doing chemsex. But nobody should be encouraged to do it either. We are all grown adults with minds of our own. It’s not up to us to tell you either not to do chems or to give them up. Gay men get into chems for all sorts of reasons. Shaming people for doing chems does not help anyone. The key to reducing the harms from chemsex is empowering gay men with the knowledge to make an informed choice for themselves. Chemsex support at 56 Dean Street: for gay men who use drugs for sex. Walk-in appointments Tuesday evenings, Thursday afternoons and two Saturday afternoons each month. For details visit www.chemsexsupport.com. For more info about the #saferchems campaign, visit www.gmfa.org.uk/saferchems GET TO KNOW: Chems Do you know your G from your M? Do you know how to dose properly? Do you know just how addictive crystal can be? If you’re doing chems, knowing more about what you’re taking can help you reduce the harms. Here we explain the more common drugs being used for chemsex. MEPH What is mephedrone? Mephedrone (aka meow meow, m-cat, plant food or drone) is a powder drug which is extremely popular on the gay scene because it’s easily available, inexpensive and very intense. It used to be the legal way of getting a similar high to MDMA. In 2010 it became illegal due to a number of deaths which were linked to it, but it is still popular, especially on the London gay club scene. Mephedrone is a speed-like drug that comes in the form of whitish powder and is usually mixed with non-alcoholic beverages or sometimes snorted. In recent years, some people have started injecting it (‘slamming’). It can also be smoked or swallowed wrapped in paper or capsules. How does mephedrone affect my health? Even though mephedrone makes you feel excited, energetic and generally quite bubbly, it is actually quite a strong chemical drug. It can have a different effect from person to person each time they take it. Apart from making you gurn uncontrollably (so you look like you are about to chew your face off), twitch and sweat, mephedrone is a vascular constrictor that narrows the veins and makes your heart pump faster. Besides this, and the horrific comedown that follows a high, not too many people experience harms when taking mephedrone recreationally. Many gay men use mephedrone for sex, staying up for many days either snorting or slamming. This can lead to a frightening drug-induced psychosis that can last for many days after you’ve stopped using and could have a severe impact on your work, finances and mental health. Many people experience no problems during and after getting high on mephedrone and you might recover in a couple of weeks if you stop using it, but the way it affects your body chemistry is very powerful and the comedown could be quite frightening. If you are going to slam, do not share equipment and needles as this is very high risk for the transmission of HIV and hep C. Can I mix mephedrone with alcohol and other drugs? Like most other drugs, mixing other substances with mephedrone is not advisable. Mephedrone dehydrates the body and drinking alcohol while high on it can further increase the likelihood of dehydration. It also adds extra strain to your heart and brain. What do I need to know if I am planning to take mephedrone? If you are planning to use it, avoid mixing it with other substances, especially alcohol. If you are on antidepressants containing MAOIs, avoid using meow meow as well because it can lead to seizures or heart problems. If you are injecting it, make sure you don’t share needles or equipment to avoid catching or spreading HIV and hepatitis C. G (GHB/GBL) What is GHB/GBL? GHB, or G, is a liquid drug that you drink. It gives you a similar feeling to alcohol as it works on the same receptors in the brain. Like alcohol, it’s used for binging but you can also become addicted to it. The high lasts for about two hours and unlike alcohol it doesn’t give you a hangover. G is used for dancing and for sex as it’s one of the few drugs that enable a hard-on. It makes users confident to take off their shirts and feel like the hottest thing in the club. Some people also take it if they can’t fall asleep, but they are unaware that in fact they fall into a G-induced coma rather than sleep. Because of the many ‘benefits’ users get from G it’s easy to get addicted to it. How does GHB/GBL affect my health? Like many other drugs, G increases the desire for sex and reduces inhibitions. You are therefore a lot more likely to put yourself at risk of HIV and other STIs by having unprotected sex. It is easy to overdose on G and enter into a state of unconsciousness, leaving you vulnerable to sexual assault. Some people use G to take the edge off crystal, which decreases your inhibitions even further and so you are that much more likely to end up taking risks. Getting the dosage right is difficult because the strength of G varies with each bottle, therefore it is easy to take more than your body can handle and it could result in overdose, coma, respiratory collapse and even death. Some people take G if they can’t sleep but they don’t realise that they fall into a coma. Most people do wake up from it with no side effects whatsoever but there are a few who do not, so if you use G it’s important to dose correctly and not mix it with alcohol. Because G is a relatively new drug, it’s likely that some of the deaths that have taken place in the past few years have not been documented. G is also physically addictive: many users find themselves dosing many times a day, just to avoid difficult and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. You can become addicted even in the space of a week if using regularly. Stopping ‘cold turkey’ can result in confusion, anxiety, panic, hallucinations and delirium and, in some cases, respiratory collapse. People using G dependently ought to seek medical support before attempting to stop their use. If you have been using G regularly for a week or more and begin to feel anxious or confused between doses, seek medical support from a drug service or A&E. Can I mix GHB/GBL with alcohol and other drugs? Drinking alcohol while under the influence of GHB can slow down the central nervous system and affect your respiratory system. This is very dangerous and should be avoided. Taking other drugs with GHB is likely to increase its effectiveness and could prove dangerous. What do I need to know if I am planning to take GHB/GBL? It’s very difficult to measure the correct dose of G. As with all illicit drugs, there are no quality control standards for G, therefore each dose could be different every time you take it. If you are planning to take G, make sure you take small doses and leave at least two hours between each dose, otherwise you could overdose or fall into a coma. Don’t drink alcohol and don’t take other depressant drugs when you are on G because the combination can increase your risk of overdose. CRYSTAL METH What is crystal meth? Crystal meth (or Tina as it is sometimes known) is increasingly commonly used by gay men for sex. It’s a powerful stimulant which keeps you awake for a very long time and makes you feel all-powerful, very horny and highly compulsive. Tina is made up of speed and various household cleaning products and comes in the shape of ice-like crystals or as a powder. It is usually smoked through a pipe, snorted, eaten or injected. The effects can last between two hours and two days. How does crystal meth affect my health? The main reason why Tina is so popular with gay men for sex is the fact that it makes people feel really horny. It can make you feel like you are the hottest porn stud on the planet for days on end. Sounds perfect but, unfortunately, Tina is also known to significantly reduce your inhibitions which can lead you to have unsafe sex and expose you to STIs, including HIV and hep C. If you share needles to inject Tina you also risk injecting HIV or hep C directly into your bloodstream. Because Tina keeps you awake for many hours, you can experience mild hallucinations or think you hear whispers which can become more profound the more regularly you take the drug. Tina withdrawal symptoms can include short-lived psychosis (a few days after you’ve stopped using), insomnia, irritable moods and depression. It can also have a negative impact on your immune system and metabolism. Often users get a sensation of insects crawling on their skin and can scratch their skin so hard that they end up wounding themselves. Can I mix crystal meth with alcohol and other drugs? Many people mix Tina with alcohol and other drugs with few side effects but you have to be aware that the more stimulants you take the more pressure you are putting on your heart. Some people may experience panic attacks while others may have no adverse effects at all. If you are mixing Tina with G, you could be awake for a very long time, become tired and find it harder to dose your G correctly. This can lead to overdoses. If you are HIV-positive you may also forget to take your medication if you get too high, which can impact on your health and also make you more infectious to your sexual partners. Getting high can also affect the choices you make around your sexual behaviour. What do I need to know if I am planning to take crystal meth? If you are planning to take Tina, it’s important to know that it is a very powerful drug which is likely to fog your judgement. At the very least it is advisable to set yourself some boundaries before you start your bender and think about what you want to do, how long you want to stay awake for and what your limits are with regard to safer sex. You can refer to these once you are in the grip of the high. Tina can blur the choices we make around sex making us forget to do it safely, or finding it harder to care in the heat of the moment. Every week clinics are filled with crystal meth users asking for PEP because they have had risky sex while high on Tina. If you choose to inject it, make sure you get clean needles and equipment and learn how to use these correctly. Using clean needles and equipment is important to protect yourself from HIV and hep C. All UK drug services are happy to provide advice as well as clean equipment. If you have shared needles with someone you suspect to be HIV-positive, it is advisable to visit your sexual health clinic or A&E for a course of PEP. Staying awake for two or more days may cause a drug-induced psychosis that can last up to 10 days after stopping use of Tina. In some cases, these symptoms can include feeling unsafe, watched, followed, paranoid, hearing voices or experiencing visual hallucinations. KETAMINE What is ketamine? Ketamine is a strong general suppressant and anaesthetic used during operations on humans and animals. It is increasingly being used as a recreational drug by gay men. When taking ketamine, you are likely to feel as though your body and mind have been separated and you are having an out-of-body experience (sometimes referred to as a ‘K-hole’). Hallucinations and loss of feeling in parts of the body or the entire body are also common. How you are going to react to ketamine depends on the mood and environment that you are in at the time when you take it. K is usually taken in small doses, like in a bump off a key. How does ketamine affect my health? Occasional recreational use of K is not too harmful but when used on a regular basis, or on a daily basis, it can become as dangerous as alcohol is to an alcoholic. People often start taking it to forget their problems. Ketamine use can lead to bladder damage, which is irreparable in a third of cases. Although it can give you a trippy feeling, K is actually a tranquiliser that numbs your body. This means that you can seriously injure yourself without realising it until much later. If you take too much K, you can go into a K-hole but there have been no reported cases of anyone not coming out of it. Like other chems, K could lead to decreased inhibitions; you may forget about using condoms and put yourself at risk of catching an STI or HIV. It’s also often used for fisting because it’s an anaesthetic and makes your brain dissociate from the pain which you would be feeling if you were to get fisted sober. Even though K is a sedative, it does not work topically so if you put it on your arsehole (as some gay men do), it’s not going to numb it. Similarly to G, if you are in a vulnerable situation, like passed out in a sauna cubicle or in a random shag’s house, this could leave you open to sexual abuse and expose you to STIs and HIV. Can I mix ketamine with alcohol and other drugs? Never mix K with G or alcohol as all of these are suppressants and highly dangerous to the respiratory system. What do I need to know if I am planning to take ketamine? If you start to feel unwell, let your friends know and ask them to take care of you. If you think your life is in danger call for an ambulance. You will not get into trouble. The emergancy crew will only care about helping you. To get more information about how to dose properly, you can visit GMFA’s website where you can find more information including tips on how to dose your meph, G and crystal meth correctly. Visit www.gmfa.org.uk/saferchems. Antidote helpline: To discuss your drug or alcohol issues call 020 7833 1674 (10am-6pm, Monday to Friday). Ask for one of the Antidote team. Chemsex support at 56 Dean Street: for gay men who use drugs for sex. Walk-in appointments Tuesday evenings, Thursday afternoons and two Saturday afternoons each month. For details visit www.chemsexsupport.com. This article was taken from FS #147: CHEMSEX EXPOSED DIGITAL VERSION: SMART DEVICE: PageSuite: CLICK HERE iTUNES: DOWNLOAD ISSUU: CLICK HERE ANDROID: Search 'FS mag' in app: DOWNLOAD PDF: CLICK HERE KINDLE: 'Search 'FS magazine in app store' INTERACTIVE: ALL ARTICLES ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE IN WEB FORMAT BELOW:Click on the image to read the article for FREE. Chemsex exposed. We talk to over 120 gay men who are involved in chemsex to get the true face of the chemsex scene. Let's debate: CHEMSEX - is it really so bad? Editor's letter: Just don't do chems, ok? UE LIFE: "My night on G gay me HIV" SUCK IT - do you give good head? TRUE LIFE: "I caught my new guy and HIV-positive ex fucking bareback on New Years eve 6 ways you know he's not the man for you TRUE LIFE: HIV, chemsex and me OPINION: Dear effeminate gay men. You're fucking fabulous! TRUE LIFE: My alcohol and drug relapse taught me recovery is not easy REVENGE PORN is a dish best served cold OFF YOUR FACE: Tina, meph and G: The gay men's crack and heroin? My big gay sex problem #147 THE LAST WORD: Would you date an HIV-positive guy?