A British Clinic Now Offers Classes on Coping with the Rise of “Chemsex” in London

Written by | Lifestyle

Chemsex play "5 Guys Chillin'"

The cast of "5 Guys Chillin,'" a London play dealing with chemsex.

London is leading the way with a new sexual health service providing first aid classes focused on those who indulge in drugs as a precursor to or part of sex, known as chemsex.

Sanctioned and supported by the British Red Cross, a London facility called 56 Dean Street is making its first foray into the field on March 15 with a course called “Chemsex First Aid.” The course is a civic response to the burgeoning use of a variety of drugs — something familiar to app users in the States under the broad umbrella of “party and play.”

Curriculum instructors will train attendees in what to do when injection problems arise, responses to overdoses, and when to call in medical professionals. In particular, the course will offer advice on how to deal with a combination of mephedrone (known among drug users as bath salts), GHB and crystal meth. Taken together often by injection, they are considered in P&P circles to be “the holy trinity” of sexual stimulants.

Related topics will also address extreme intoxication as well as falls, cuts and bruises; withdrawl symptoms, panic attacks, psychosis and paranoia, low blood sugar, faintings and light-headedness; issues with hyperventilation and breathing problems and irculation problems or heart palpitations. Instruction will also grapple with consent, a topic rarely taken up among those who use such enhancements. A recent survey found nearly a quarter of those who had indulged in chemsex had also overdosed themselves. Likewise, nearly a fourth of the respondents also knew someone who died after indulging in chemsex.

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According to reports from the press overseas, assaults traced to chemsex have doubled over the last three years in London alone. Dean Street chemsex lead David Stuart is spearheading the effort, and told Gay Star News that
“while chems make us feel good, we need to manage them in a way that keeps us safe. And that requires a specific skill set. Chemsex environments have a great deal of potential harm, from overdoses to extreme paranoia or accidents resulting from being high, and having poor judgment.”

As Stuart sees it, “learning how to set boundaries that keep ourselves and others safe, and how to communicate those boundaries to others kindly is important. Learning to do this in a way that makes them more likely to be respected, is important.”

Part instruction and part intervention, the class intends to cover “conversations about the importance of shared care while we’re playing.’ But it will also explore how to look out for yourselves and others in chemsex environments – as well as the effects the drugs can have on you.”

Secrecy and stigma associated with P&P has kept many from seeking help, according to the center. Even so, the course has not met with universal approval. A spokesman for the UK’s chemsex prison and probation service, Steve Morris, believes the rise in drug use can be traced to economics. But he also asserts that some of the rise can be attributed to “motivation or causal factors” too.

Last modified: March 16, 2018

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