Sex, Drugs & Harm Reduction
A selection of erotic drugs, Amsterdam
According to contemporary news reports the popularity of chemsex remains on a steep upward trajectory. Unfortunately, open dialogue and the provision of safety advice have not kept pace with its increased practice, with inevitable and sometimes tragic consequences.
This is a subject which I covered quite intensively in writing The Drugs Users Bible. Whilst it is fairly well known that I self-administered 157 different drugs for the project, less well known is that one of my standard benchmarks related directly to chemsex.
For each applicable chemical and plant I sought to identify its effect upon sexual appetite, stamina, and libido in general. How effective was each drug in terms of enhancing or prolonging the sexual experience? Most importantly, what were the risks?
My findings were in some instances surprising, and given the safety focus of the book, I documented what were largely common sense issues relating to harm reduction and personal care.
The Chemsex Drugs
The effects and the experience differed significantly from drug class to drug class. I would summarize these as follows:
Certain stimulants (particularly amphetamines) produce the most primal, prolonged and intensive orgasmic pleasure.
Cannabinoids (cannabis) help you to get lost in the moment and flow with it.
At low doses many psychedelics can take you to a different place, and enhance physical sensitivity.
Empathogens, such as MDMA, tend to take a similar path, with a more muted headspace, but hardly surprisingly enhanced empathy.
I am aware that some people cite alcohol and GHB in this field, but I view these primarily as relaxants, and not as active sexual enhancers. I would not pitch them in the same ballpark as any of the above in this respect.
The Dark Side
If this sounds like an invitation to dive in and to engage, it isn’t. As with most joys in life there is a flip side: in this case exposure to significant danger. Drug use carries risk, and drug use for sexual gratification is no different.
Stating the obvious immediately, the usual harm reduction procedures continue to apply. I would direct you to the 10 Commandments of Safer Drug Use for a general and generic approach:
[Transcript] The 10 Commandments of Safer Drug Use
- Research, research, and research your drug of choice. Know all relevant information, including onset time, duration, likely effects, combination data and possible contra-indications.
- Source carefully. How confident are you that the substance is exactly what you expect it to be and is not contaminated?
- Test it: it's easier than you may think. Or have it tested by a trusted third party. If you are less than 100% certain about its content or purity dump it.
- Properly and rationally consider the dose. Always remember that you can take more if you need to, but you cannot un-take it. Take your time and don't make hasty decisions or be unduly influenced by others.
- Weigh your dose carefully, and never eyeball it. Invest in and use some reliable milligram scales. Use volumetric weighing where appropriate.
- Perform simple allergy tests; for instance by placing of the tiniest fragment under or on to your tongue and monitoring for a reaction.
- Ask yourself if you are feeling okay. If you are unwell, sick, or in poor health, or in any doubt about this, don’t proceed. This also applies to your mental health.
- Plan the experience, and its parameters, so that you don’t take rash decisions under the influence. This may include: setting a redosing limit by restricting access to more; ensuring a safe and suitable set and setting; having water, food and entertainment available, etcetera.
- Have the contact details of help services to hand in case of urgent need. Write down what you are dosing and place the note in a prominent place on your person. If you are undertaking the experience with a group, seek to nominate an individual to abstain, in case help and objective rationality is needed.
- Give your body plenty of time to recover and your mind due time to assimilate the experience. In other words, if you are a regular drug user, take a break between psychoactive sessions, and a long break between sessions using substances from the same class.
I would add to these a number of other considerations which relate specifically to chemsex:
In some cases, most significantly with stimulants/amphetamines, a high watermark can be reached which is not attainable without the drug. This is a poisoned chalice. It can cause a number of subsequent problems, making normal sexual activity relatively unfulfilling, with obvious and very real implications for relationships. Don't trivialise or dismiss this aspect: it is not as uncommon as you might imagine.
Often related to this is an ongoing craving for the sexual payload of the drug in question. Added to its existing hooks, this potent additional inducement can accelerate the path to addiction. Be constantly aware of this and take full account of it.
It is important to bear in mind that under the influence judgement is often impaired, and that events can develop quickly and potentially without due deliberation. It is probably not the best idea for a single party to heavily engage whilst the other(s) doesn't. Equally, parameters and boundaries should be agreed beforehand.
Finally, the compound stress of both sex and drugs on the body should be carefully contemplated, particularly by those with any pre-existing medical conditions.
The Last Word
It is a statement of fact that some drugs can increase sexual appetite and enhance the experience itself. However, my last word on this would be that, if indulging, the real world still exists and so do its risks. Don’t suspend logic and always practise harm reduction. Or alternatively, steer well clear.
*Dominic Milton Trott, Author: The Drug Users Bible