chemsex cocaine

What Is Chemsex?

Written By: Gentle Path

By Anna McKenzie

What is chemsex? On the surface, “chemsex” is generally what it sounds like: using substances to enhance or disinhibit sexual experiences. Specifically, however, chemsex refers to a growing trend among gay men who pair drugs like crystal meth, MDMA, GHB, cocaine, and mephedrone with sexual experiences to intensify or prolong them. 

The combination of these drugs and sex can lead to addiction, pushing users to engage in riskier behaviors to continue to feel the same high. Chemsex addiction can cause mental and physical health issues, but with treatment, those who are suffering from this condition can begin to heal and live fulfilling lives in recovery.  

Chemsex addiction can cause mental and physical health issues, but with treatment, those who are suffering from this condition can begin to heal and live fulfilling lives in recovery.  

Chemsex: Definition, Context, and Repercussions

According to a report published in Drugs and Alcohol Today on the origins of chemsex, chemsex refers to sexual experiences, specifically among gay men, that are paired with drugs known as “chems” — crystal meth, cathenones, and GHB/GBL. These particular drugs are used for sexual disinhibition and to intensify the experience. Other drugs like Viagra, cocaine, MDMA, and even alcohol may be used, but they are generally used as additives, not as key elements of chemsex. 

Chemsex has a cultural component, given that it is only practiced in certain subsets of the gay community. Gay men who prefer the use of chems are often a segregated group based on their substance use habits and the contexts where they engage in sexual experiences (i.e., a bathhouse atmosphere instead of a club atmosphere). 

Reasons for participating in chemsex vary by individual, but some have reported to participate because chems can reduce their feelings of shame, internalized homophobia, rejection, mental distress, or emotional trauma. The use of drugs provides self-medication for these feelings and enables them to participate more freely in sexual experiences. This is in addition to the increased high, the flood of dopamine driven by stimulant drugs such as crystal meth, and the ability to prolong sexual sessions and not feel the need to eat or sleep. 

According to The Chemsex Study, chemsex can cause problems for many individuals in the following ways:

  • The use of chems and sex creates a high that resets the brain’s reward system and rewires it, increasing the compulsion to engage in these behaviors (and riskier behaviors) and a pronounced lack of stimulation without them. It becomes increasingly more difficult to experience pleasure without using drugs.
  • It lowers inhibition, which may decrease discernment about partners and increase the chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
  • People participating in chemsex may feel isolated from others who do not participate, and feelings of shame or loneliness may increase as a result.
  • The use of chems can damage your health as it reduces your awareness of your own physical needs such as eating, sleeping, staying hydrated, etc.
  • An addiction to chemsex can be life-disrupting, impairing mental health, causing loss of relationships, money, and work, and increasing the risk of injury or disease due to risk-taking behaviors.

Until recent years, there have been few treatment options specific to chemsex addiction and its root causes. Today, especially as chemsex grows as a phenomenon in gay culture, there are more programs designed to specifically address the needs of those seeking recovery. 

An addiction to chemsex can be life-disrupting, impairing mental health, causing loss of relationships, money, and work, and increasing the risk of injury or disease due to risk-taking behaviors.

Chemsex Addiction Treatment

Addressing chemsex addiction isn’t simply about stopping drug use; it’s about understanding the main drivers of drug use, the root causes of mental and emotional distress, and the needs of the whole person.

If you feel empty and unable to experience pleasure due to chemsex, it’s important to realize your need for self-care to regain a healthy sense of identity. If you’ve been trapped in cycles of pain, drug use, distress, and health issues, you need to know:

  • You are more than just a body and a combination of feelings; you are a person with a real identity and real needs.
  • You are more than just a sexual partner or a drug user; you are a human being who has value. 
  • You can learn to overcome your negative feelings and start a path to a fulfilling life that does not require drugs to help you feel alive or excited.

Rediscover Yourself at Gentle Path

If you or someone you care about is dealing with the specific consequences related to chemsex addiction, we can help at Gentle Path at The Meadows. You can begin restoring your health and self-esteem through comprehensive chemsex addiction treatment. With extensive expertise, our compassionate staff will walk alongside you in the process, addressing all of you: physically, mentally, and emotionally.  

Contact us today, and we will be glad to tell you about our evidence-based programs and how we approach the specific issues that you are dealing with. Rediscover a fulfilling life in recovery at Gentle Path.

July 26th, 2022

Categories: sex addiction

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