Chemsex isn't a new thing - health experts and researchers have been documenting the party-and-play phenomenon for over ten years.
What's clear is that the drugs associated with chemsex are causing signficant harm to gay men around the world.
Crystal meth is the main culprit - low prices and ready availability have seen crystal meth become the go-to drug for men using chems to fuel their sexual encounters.
Ignacio Labayen de Inza is the Chief Executive of Controlling Chemsex, a charity offering online support to people struggling with chemsex issues.
According to Labayen de Inza, most people seeking support are having problems with crystal meth combined with G or crystal meth alone. Around one in five patients reporting problem use of crystal meth are now injecting the drug directly into a vein – this is known as slamming – resulting in a much more intense, extended, and incapacitating experience.
“The COVID lockdowns gave home chemsex parties a huge boost, as people were bored and had nowhere to meet…” explains Labayen de Inza. “Many who were in control of their chemsex and drug use before lockdown subsequently lost control; others had never even tried drugs until lockdown.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has also challenged access to chemsex support services – many specialist sexual health services were shut down and unable to operate during lockdowns.
The report’s authors conclude that the major risk that people engaging in chemsex face is the massive effect of crystal meth use on their physical and mental health, and – by extension – every part of their lives. The research indicates that a significant population of chems users are struggling to deal with the complex effects of crystal meth, and many have had their lives and livelihoods destroyed.
The report further highlights that chemsex support services need more financial support in order to help people who are struggling with chems.
Help is available for people who are struggling with their use of chems, but it may be difficult to access at the local level. Exploring online resources and online support services are a good starting point.