“When I got the invite to pop in for a drink from this hot guy, I could not believe my luck!”, explained Kyle (not his real name). “I was actually so excited that he even knew who I was. But once I got there and after a few drinks, he just started injecting himself with ‘meth’, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had no idea that he was into ‘slamming’.”
“Chemsex”, “slamming” or “party and play” (PNP) is on the rise in the men who have sex with men (MSM) community.
Guys are getting together to take or inject drugs like crystal meth, khat or GHB and then having sex for hours. It’s addictive because it feels amazing and it lengthens and heightens the sensation and enjoyment of sex for many guys who are on the drugs. It’s extremely dangerous because (like alcohol) it inhibits your ability to make healthy decisions and often promotes a culture of “barebacking”, which is having anal sex without the use of a condom. It has also been linked to sexual assault and men reporting that they have been exploited, raped or abused whilst under the influence of these drugs.
The increase of chemsex has been linked to a substantial increase in sexually transmitted infections within the MSM community.
Some of the drugs, like GHB can be lethal because if too much is taken it slows the heart rate down to such a degree that the person who’s taken it can slip into a coma and even die. When taken together with alcohol, GHB becomes even more dangerous, even in smaller doses. Drugs that are illegally obtained are always a health risk because you can never be sure what the drugs have been mixed with or made from, as there is no quality control. Some drugs have been found to contain toxic household substances like drain cleaner or rat poison.
There is a lot of speculation as to why so many gay and bisexual men are taking to chemsex, and many theories point to feelings of isolation, loneliness and lack of intimacy, being a major motivation, but now guys are “tricking” other guys into attending chemsex parties without disclosing their intentions to them beforehand.
Kyle’s experience of being invited to a guy’s house who intended to use drugs without disclosing the fact beforehand is a very common story these days.
“You think you’re being invited to a braai, a dinner party or even just a hookup and the next thing, guys start taking out needles and shooting drugs into their arms, like it’s the most normal thing in the world.”
Chemsex catfishing is a clever strategy to recruit more people by normalizing injecting or using illegal drugs. It works in the same way as peer pressure; impressionable men are invited to places where they see other men that they may admire, using the drugs and become more comfortable with the idea of using the drugs themselves. Drug users benefit from new recruits because the drugs can be cheaper when bought in bulk and it also introduces potentially new and exciting partners to have sex with. Under the influence of chemsex, many guys also lose their inhibitions and are more likely to have sex with another guy in their proximity that they perhaps wouldn’t be interested in when sober.
Let someone you know and trust know where you are going if you decide to go and meet someone or a group of guys that you’ve never met before, and make sure that you can leave if you begin to feel uncomfortable and no longer want to be there.
If you do decide to participate in a chemsex party, always remember to use your own syringe and not share one, as this could expose you (or someone else) to HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne infections. Make sure you stay well hydrated with enough water but don’t overdo it. Avoid mixing different types of drugs as this can increase your risk of overdosing due to drug interaction, and use condoms and water-based lube every time you have sex with another person.
Be safe and take care of yourself because, sadly, not everyone out there in the big bad world has your best interests at heart.