Dean Street Clinic, London

Chemsex and Porn

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One of the most engaging speakers at the annual ATSAC (Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity) Conference in January this year was David Stuart. He’s the man who first coined the term “chemsex” more than two decades ago. Chemsex is about the consumption of drugs to facilitate sexual activity. Users often combine chemsex and porn in their party mix.

Sociologically, the term refers to a subculture of recreational drug users who engage in high-risk sexual activities under the influence of drugs within groups. The drugs help them sustain sexual activity for days on end without sleep. However, the body can’t cope without restorative sleep and over time such drug-facilitated partying can lead to a variety of health issues. Not the least is addiction to the drugs themselves.

David was a young gay man living in London during the height of the HIV/Aids epidemic. He is HIV positive but was among the first people to benefit from the development of effective anti-viral drugs. He has since devoted his life to promoting healthy sexuality through effective partnerships with the NHS. This is a link to the chemsex support service pages of the 56 Dean Street website. Dean Street in London now provides sexual health services to around 4,000 men per month.

David believes that people experiencing negative consequences can be empowered to help themselves. Pornography use is only a small part of the chemsex scene, but it is a contributory factor. It represents an additional behaviour that needs to be managed.

Davis Stuart of Dean Street speaking in The Light at Friend's House on 26 January 2019
David Stuart linked two worlds when he spoke to the therapy community at ATSAC.

Resources

This link is to a Chemsex First Aid resource, that addresses the most acute and urgent things that can go wrong in chemsex environments.

This links to an online, interactive behaviour-change tool, for those wishing to be guided through practical steps of change related to their chem use. It is in 18 languages. They include Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, Japanese, Hebrew, Italian, Armenian and Slovenian. They hope to add Arabic, Swedish and Portuguese soon.

This link is to a playlist of Youtube films, all supporting gay men with the complexities of modern gay hook-up culture, including chemsex support, craving management etc.

Chemsex Research

Steven Maxwell from Kings College and UCL (steven.maxwell.16@ucl.ac.uk) presented a poster on Chemsex behaviours among men who have sex with men: A systematic review of literature.  This identified 38 recent papers on the subject. It synthesised the results into an overall report looking at the risks and benefits of people engaging in chemsex.  Contact Steven direct if you want to learn more about this research.

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