Chemsex / Party n Play

If you're concerned you're in too deep, let's talk about it.  It's important to have a safe space to discuss chemsex or party n play without feeling misunderstood or judged.  Working with me, you will find a judgement-free, confidential space to explore your relationship with substances and sex.   

To support our work together, I completed a Clinical Fellowship in Addictions during which I counselled people involved in chemsex and party n play.  I understand the complicated reasons behind their choices and appreciate the hard work of untangling the knot of substance use and sex.  This advanced training enables me to provide modern substance use interventions including harm reduction, information about medication assisted therapies, and develop action-based plans determined by your goals.  Abstinence isn't the goal unless it's your goal.   

 

I offer secure online video counselling to individuals and couples across British Columbia.  

 

Click here to reach out and make an appointment

What is chemsex?

Chemsex, or Party 'n Play (PnP) involves using substances to enhance sex.  Using drugs for chemsex is different than drinking alcohol or taking drugs recreationally.  Usually people do it to change the physical sensations they have during sex (increasing pleasure and their ability to have sex for longer), or to change their psychological experiences (increasing their confidence or removing inhibitions).  

Chemsex can last for many hours (even days) and often with multiple sexual partners (for example at parties) but can also involve a couple or masturbation.  It is most common among gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM), however straight people often use substances to enhance sex too.

Due to the sexually disinhibiting nature of the 'high', it is often associated with feeling invincible to harms.  This can translate into reduced concern for safer sex practices.  Unwanted side effects while under the influence can include aggression, paranoia, hallucinations/perceptions of persecution and overdose.  It is also common for people to have a ‘comedown’ after chemsex where they feel depressed or low.

Chemsex can be dangerous and involves serious risks for your sexual health, but you can take precautions to make it safer and to protect yourself.

Which substances are used for chemsex?

The most popular drugs used during chemsex are:
 

  • gammahydroxybutyrate/gammabutyrolactone (also known as GHB/GBL, G or Gina)

  • mephedrone (meph or meow)

  • crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth, Tina)
     

They are taken on their own or together with alcohol or other drugs (such as cocaine or ecstasy).

 

What are the risks of chemsex?

Substances change how you feel and behave. When you mix them with sex you increase your risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in a number of ways.

  • With fewer physical inhibitions you’re less likely to use condoms, even if you intended to beforehand.

  • You may not remember what you’ve done and whether you used condoms.

  • You may have sex with strangers (such as people you’ve hooked up with through social media or the internet) and you may have sex with multiple partners. This increases your chances of exposure to HIV and other STIs.

  • You may have more forceful sex than usual, because of the anaesthetic effects of drugs like GHB, which can increase the risk of HIV infection and other STIs, including hepatitis C.

  • If you have a particularly long sex session you may not think about accessing emergency post-exposure prophylaxis treatment (PEP) to prevent HIV transmission until it is too late. PEP only works if it is taken within 72 hours of infection.

  • You may inject mephedrone or crystal meth with shared needles, thus increasing your risk of both HIV and hepatitis C infection.

  • It is easy to take too much GHB. This can cause you to ‘pass out’, leaving you more vulnerable to sexual assault. Whatever the circumstances, and whatever drugs you have taken, remember that sexual assault is never acceptable and is never your fault.

How can I reduce the risks of chemsex?

If you do plan on participating in chemsex, follow these tips to reduce the risks for you and the people you party with.
 

  • Pack some protection – make sure you have lots of condoms and lube to hand. You could also consider pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to protect you from HIV.

  • Know your status – most HIV transmissions happen among people who have recently caught HIV and don't yet know that they are positive. Regular testing to check your status and to screen for other STIs will help to keep you and others healthy.

  • Party with people you trust – plan in advance how you will look out for each other and be sure to tell someone where you are going if you leave with someone you don’t know.

  • Set your limits – before you get high, decide what you are prepared to do sexually and talk about which methods of protection you want to use.

  • Stay aware – keep tabs on what drugs you’ve consumed and be aware when to stop. Don’t share needles or syringes and never let someone else inject you.

  • Don’t play too long or too often – the longer you party the more likely you are to experience bad side effects like hallucinations. Also, the more often you have chemsex the more likely you are to become dependent on drugs and feel low or depressed when you stop taking them.

Chemsex Party n Play Counselling in Vancouver