Global Chemsex Toolbox: How to live a balanced life

This is a free community-led initiative.

Global Chemsex Toolbox: How to live a balanced life

The live workshops of the Global Chemsex Toolbox programme are underway.

The next workshop will be on 11 May, with the focus on how how to live a balanced life.

It's free to participate and no registration is required to attend.

What is sober sex?

Speaking on the podcast, How To Date Men, sex and relationship therapist, Nicholas Rose, explores the topic of Sober Sex.

Listen to the episode.

Salina EsTitties shares her story and seeks to help others struggling with chemsex.

Speaking on the How To Date Men podcast, Drag Race alum Salina EsTitties shared her personal experience of addiction.

Salina burst onto our screens in Season 15 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Building on that success, she’s been releasing music and also advocating for community-led support for people struggling with their use of chems.

In the conversation, we talk about Salina's post Drag Race aspirations, navigating sober sex, and why she's not afraid to share her story with the world.

Listen to the episode

Global Chemsex Toolbox

Queer people around the world are struggling with the harm caused by chemsex – combining drugs such as crystal meth with sexual encounters.

While the drugs can enable an intense sexual experience, they are highly addictive and come with significant health and personal safety risks.

Traditional drug addiction services are limited when it comes to equipping people ot navigate the complex range of challenges that people struggling with chems are often faced with – issues such as internalized homophobia, loneliness and isolation, and hook-up app culture require a non-judgemental type of peer support to help people make the changes required to get their lives back on track.

Global Chemsex Toolbox is offering a free program to support people needing information with issues surrounding their use of chems. The course is online and can be accessed anonymously from anywhere in the world.

Delivered by community organisations Controlling Chemsex and Impulse Group, the free online course teaches participants practical strategies to learn how to manage cravings effectively as well as how to overcome challenges around sober sex and intimacy.

“Isolation and loneliness is one of the major reasons why people struggle to keep their use of chems under control…” explains Ignacio Labayen de Inza – founder of Controlling Chemsex. “In this course, we will explore together how to connect with others without chems, and we will find ways to reconnect with joy without drugs involved – working together to reinforce self-esteem.”

“Getting control of your life back may feel like an impossible task but it is possible – we’ve helped hundreds of people already but we know that we’re only scratching the surface…” adds Labayen de Inza. “That’s why we’ve created the Global Chemsex Toolbox as an online course – enabling us to spread our limited resources as far as possible.

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What is chemsex?

‘Chemsex’ is the term used to describe sexual activity between people who have taken specific drugs (chems) including crystal methamphetamine, mephedrone, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) or gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL) – these drugs can enable an enhanced sexual experience but they are highly addictive and come with significant health risks.

What are the risks associated with chemsex?

  • Physical health: Accidents and injuries, nutritional issues, lungs and heart diseases, dental problems, disrupted sleeping patterns.
  • Mental health: High levels of depression, anxiety, or psychotic episodes such as paranoia or hallucinations.
  • Emotional health: Issues such as isolation, domestic and relationship issues, low self-esteem or inability to focus or make decisions.
  • Sexual health: High risks of transmissions and infections of HIV, HEP-C and other Sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, gonorrhoea. Chemsex users are also at risk of poor adherence to HIV medication – potentially jeopardising their Undetectable status.
  • Financial issues and unemployment.
  • Personal safety: such as overdoses, sexual assault, theft, or self-harm.
  • Legal issues – buying, selling, possessing and selling these drugs is illegal.

Tips on how to control your chems use

  • Review your bio details on hook-up apps. Be explicit that you’re not interested in chems. Simply putting “No H&H” in your bio, for example, will limit the amount of temptation that comes your way.
  • Set limits on your use of hook-up apps. We’re at our most vulnerable when we’re searching for intimacy – particularly when it’s late at night and we’re feeling alone and isolated. If you’ve set yourself a rule that you’re not going to look at hook-up apps after 10 PM, have a plan for other things you can do if you’re awake and can’t sleep. It could be as simple as having some good porn on standby so you can masturbate and get the horniness out of your system.
  • Don’t forget that if you think it could be helpful you can disable your phone to block downloading and use of apps or websites with specific content (sexual, gambling, etc) using parental controls. You can find out how to do this by Googling ‘parental control iPhone’ or ‘apps parental control for Android’, or also downloading specific apps for this purpose, and prevent the cycle of deleting and downloading the apps.
  • Know your triggers.The biggest risk of a relapse often comes from friends or fuck-buddies that we’ve had good times with in the past. Odds are, you’re going to get an unexpected WhatsApp message asking if you’re up for some fun. Knowing that this trigger is going to present itself, have your coping mechanism ready to go – have a “no thanks” reply saved in your drafts, have someone lined up who you can call, have some porn ready to watch.
  • Keep a clear head. We tend to make poor choices when we’ve got a few drinks under our belt. Try to minimise your alcohol intake.
  • Keep yourself busy. If we’re feeling isolated and alone, and it feels like there’s nothing to do, then a chemsex session will seem increasingly appealing. Set yourself a list of tasks for the day. It could be as simple as reorganising your sock draw or as complicated as making some fresh pasta. There’s always something to do, if you set your mind to it.
  • If you do have a relapse, don’t beat yourself up too much. Slip-ups happen. Activate your support network and learn from it.

If you, or a friend or loved one, is struggling with chems, contact Controlling Chemsex to find out what support is available in your area.

Chemsex in the news

We're continuing to educate people about Chemsex and to raise awareness of the help and support that's available.

Making headlines with Controlling Chemsex
Getting the message out on a major health issue for gay men.

Gooning and Bating?

If extended masturbation sessions are one of your triggers in relation to chems, setting yourself some limits is a good starting point.

Gooning and Bating: Is compulsive masturbation your chemsex trigger?
It might be helpful to set yourself some limits.

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