The growth in use of illegal psychoactive substances during sex could pose an increasing risk to public health, experts say. The popularity of “chemsex” – mostly but not exclusively among gay men – is leading some sexual health services to set up special clinics to treat the consequences of drugs such as GHB, GBL and crystal meth.
Users are turning to such sources to lower inhibitions and increase pleasure, according to an editorial in the BMJ by experts in sexual health and drug misuse. Its authors warn of a “small but important” increase in the use of mental health services by chemsex drug users. Psychological and physiological dependence on the drugs can become permanent, they say.
“Chemsex drug users often describe losing days – not sleeping or eating for up to 72 hours – and this may harm their general health. Users may present too late to be eligible for post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV transmission.” say the authors. “An increased number of sexual partners may also increase the risk of acquiring other sexually transmitted infections. Data from service users suggest an average of five sexual partners per session and that unprotected sex is the norm.”