Thilo Beck at WEF Roundtable - A Roadmap to Sustainable Health and Better Well-being in the Workforce and Society

Goals House Roundtable, World Economic Forum, Davos – Thilo Beck

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Chemsex refers to an extremely risky behavior involving certain recreational drugs and sex. Also known as PnP, (Party and Play) or chemfun, chemsex is typically practiced by gay men who learn about chemsex events on the Internet or on networking apps developed specifically for that purpose. The events can last an entire weekend or more and may involve sex with several people.

The drugs reduce inhibitions and bring about arousal, allowing individuals to stay awake and have sex multiple times, usually without reaching orgasm.

Experts aren’t sure how many individuals engage in chemsex, but it appears to be a relatively small number of people, primarily in urban areas such as London and New York. However, public health services note that the practice, which appears to be expanding around the world, has been reported in Australia, Mexico, Canada and Asia.

Drugs Commonly Associated with Chemsex

Chemsex is different from behavior in which a person gets high, loses inhibitions and ends up having sex. Individuals who engage in Chemsex take drugs first with the sole intention of having sex while under the influence.

Drugs commonly used by Chemsex participants are those that boost confidence and lower inhibitions while bringing on an intense rush of euphoria. Typical drugs include:

Mephedrone– Also known as meow meow or M-Cat, mephedrone is an inexpensive synthetic stimulant drug widely available in Europe. The drug, available in powder form, is typically swallowed, snorted or injected.

Methamphetamine– Like mephedrone, methamphetamine (crystal meth) is a synthetic drug manufactured in clandestine laboratories. It is made from a combination of chemicals that may include amphetamines, cold medicines and toxic substances such as battery acid, antifreeze or drain cleaner.

GHB (Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate) – Unlike mephedrone and methamphetamine, GHB is a depressant drug that makes users feel relaxed and sexually excited. It can relax the muscles, making anal sex easier. GHB is very dangerous and when mixed with alcohol or other depressant drugs, can bring about severe respiratory distress or coma.

Dangers Involved with Chemsex

There are many dangers associated with Chemsex, including the following:

  • Chemsex involves introducing large quantities of dangerous drugs into the system. Some people use a mix of different drugs or combine the drugs with alcohol, which can cause the heart to slow down or speed up.
  • Although many participants use protection, chemsex parties frequently involve HIV-positive men who deliberately decide not to use protection because there is no danger of passing the disease to other people. However, transmission of other sexually transmitted diseases, including Hepatitis C, is still possible.
  • Loss of inhibitions caused by the drugs places users at higher risk of assault, date rape or robbery.
  • Methamphetamine frequently causes sores in the mouth, thus increasing the danger of HIV transmitted by oral sex.
  • Chemsex drugs can bring about dangerous side effects such as hallucinations, paranoia and aggressive behavior.
  • Frequent abuse of chemsex drugs can cause dependence and addiction.
  • Overdose is a very real possibility.

Chemsex and Addiction

Many experts believe that drug and alcohol treatment centers and rehabs should offer treatment for party drug addiction and abuse, and that treatment for addiction should include men who use the drugs as a prerequisite to chemsex. Many also believe that more treatment providers should offer substance abuse treatment programs specifically tailored to gay and bisexual men.

Effective treatment, as we offer at Paracelsus, also addresses underlying issues and negative feelings, including depressionanxiety, loneliness, rejection, a need for intimacy and other problems that may prompt people to engage in such risky behavior in the first place.

Our professional, caring, empathic and knowledge based approach also reduces therapeutic offerings of harm-reduction, meaning that after party-binges, we repair the body through functional medicine treatments and educate clients about the risk of using the above chemicals. Some people are not ready to stop (yet) and thus, harm reduction is an effective method to curb the long-term risks of chemsex and related drug use.

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