Friday, 18 October 2019


Crystal meth (methamphetamine) photo credit The New York Times

Chemsex used to be something that was fairly rare - I knew about it, but messages asking for it or offering chems were few and far between.  But over recent years it’s become far more prevalent.  On Grindr, people are very open about offering chems and dealing. Particularly, I’ve seen an increase in people coming across meth.  This begs the question; how do we look after our friends and ourselves?

It’s important to note, I’m not a health expert of any kind; these are just small practical things I’ve gleaned from people – this is not a substitute for advice from experts, and I can take no responsibility for the suggestions here. You do things at your own risk. 

If you are using chems, even if it’s just been the once, please talk to your local clinic and get some advice and support - most can refer you to specialist services.  If someone is unconscious or unresponsive having used chems, please call 999 immediately.  You may have concerns about the police getting involved, but it’s far more important that person gets treatment and their life saved!

If you’re about to do meth, slamming it (injecting) is the riskiest way to take it and has a harder comedown.  Smoking it is somewhat less harmful as is booty bumping (putting up your ass).  Consider how you do it, as well as the drug you’re taking when thinking about risk.
Make sure you don’t mix meth with other drugs or with alcohol, if things go wrong it’s much more difficult to treat with more substances in your body.  In particular – make sure you don’t take caffeine in any form, it increases the effect of it in the body and is really dangerous – avoid all caffeine while you’re wired. 

So, you’ve taken meth?  Now what, you’re probably feeling something pretty amazing I guess, really horny.  If you are at someone else’s place, make sure you get home safely, get an Uber or registered taxi rather than public transport and certainly don’t try and drive.  Ideally set a time with a friend to check in so someone can make sure you get back home safe.

But the comedown is rough with meth.  You’ll find you won’t be able to sleep for a few days, it’s important you do rest otherwise you are liable to just crash out exhausted and may collapse or go unconscious.  Take it easy, lie in a dark room, maybe with some gentle music on.  Not being able to sleep can be very unsettling in itself, it will pass and you will get some rest, but it might take a while. 

As you come down, you’ll find you have no appetite and may not want to eat.  Given that this again, can last a while, try drinking some protein shakes (ones with extra vitamins in are good) to make sure you are getting something in you, maybe try snacking on fruit.  Stay hydrated - watch the colour of your piss to keep an eye on this. 

Particularly if you’ve slammed, you may find the come down harsh and may experience paranoia.  This can be very frightening; it may be feelings of being watched or followed, being judged, or may even be physical sensations.  Find a friend you can trust and talk to them about it, if you can get them to come and sit with you and try and make you comfortable - again gentle music, a blanket, maybe watching something very easy going on Netflix.  Don’t watch anything with action or drama, as that can make things worse. 

As you come down and feel more normal you may experience other feelings, such as guilt, or regret. Worrying about what you have done, especially regarding sexual health.  If you take PrEP, make sure you keep taking it.  If you think you have missed doses, or don’t know what has happened, get to a clinic or Accident and Emergency as soon as you can.  You have a 72-hour window after having unprotected sex to get PEP. 

Even with PrEP it’s important to get to a clinic and get a check up as other STIs are easily passed around and if you have injected meth there is risk of Hepatis C if needles were shared and precautions were not taken for safe disposal.

Unfortunately, it does also happen that people get raped while on meth and having chemsex, as your ability to consent may have been reduced, and you may have done things you would not normally.  You may have put yourself in a situation by taking chems, but that does not mean it’s ok for people to push you or take advantage.  Talk to your local clinic, who will be able to refer you to specialist services and support, reach out to friends and people you can trust.

I think we need to change the message about drugs.  Saying don’t do it and they are bad and stigmatising it isn’t stopping the problem.  We need to talk about it and focus on harm reduction and keeping people safe.  Please talk to people and don’t be alone.