Last November the British Medical Journal raised a healthcare emergency due to the increasing popularity of Chemsex. Although the phenomenon is not new, experts turned it into a public health priority after looking at the results of a huge survey carried out by London’s busiest sexual health clinic based in 56 Dean Street, revealing that many HIV gay patients with previous Chemsex experiences show risky sexual behavior and do not use condoms.
Not everyone knows what Chemsex is and the effects it can provoke on human health. Chemsex consists of mixing sex and heavy drugs such as methamphetamine, mephedrone and GHB/GBL during binges in order to produce prolonged sexual performances. The effects of the drugs last up to 72 hours and eliminate any need of sleeping and eating. Therefore, a powerful psychological and physiological dependence are usually created on the people who make use of them. Since sexual activities have been associated with drug consumption for a long time, doctors explain the new healthcare emergency by analyzing the differences between the current trend and the situation in the past.
Chemsex differs from common orgies because of its extreme nature. This means that people who take part in it do so with the explicit purpose of experiencing something intense. Unfortunately, what they usually ignore is that Chemsex is addictive, which makes it hard for people to stop doing it after having tried once.
The drugs used in Chemsex are more harmful than ecstasy or cocaine, and they can bring about serious psychological problems such as anxiety, psychoses, brain damage, paranoia, insomnia and even suicidal tendencies. Chemsex also results in the total loss of inhibitions and a strong condition of euphoria, which often induce people not to use condoms. Thus, they risk contracting deleterious illnesses such as HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea and hepatitis C. This was proved by the aforementioned survey carried out in London, which found out that a third of Chemsex users in London are HIV-positive.
Chemsex has become more appealing than it was in the past and it easily involve new people thanks to the so-called ‘hook-up’ apps, which advertise among users the possibility of taking part in such parties.
For all these reasons, the BMJ has declared a healthcare emergency by publishing an editorial aimed at making people aware of the long-term psychological and physiological dependence produced by Chemsex drugs. A similar initiative was taken by Vice through the production of documentary on Chemsex addiction amongst the gay community. It shows the hidden reality of Chemsex abuse with no censorship by portraying touching stories of sadness and loneliness, as well as the bad psychological conditions faced by many people after developing such addiction.
However, the government should take more measures in order to improve the conditions of affected people and stop the phenomenon from spreading even further. As far as prevention is concerned, it is highly recommendable that doctors warn their patients about the dangers of certain drugs and unprotected sex. In addition, schools and families have the duty to provide everyone with a proper sexual education, not just those who identify as straight. Furthermore, experts suggest that more money is invested in sexual health services. The main focus should be on the training of more sexual and mental health professionals, as well as on financing special sexual health clinics.
The main goal of the healthcare emergency is that everyone becomes aware of the possible danger of Chemsex on their lives. Whether they decide to have sex with strangers or not, it is essential that they are able to recognize which drugs are to be avoided at all costs and that they practice safe sex.