Sources of Misinformation
So where do these myths come from? There are several possible sources of this misinformation. One source of the misinformation is research bias. Studies of drug use among gay men may recruit samples of men who are not representative of the full population of gay men, but instead, subpopulations of drug using gay men. While it does appear that subcultures of gay men do engage in recreational drug use, those who do not may not be identified by researchers, particularly if they are well integrated into the mainstream community.
In fact, when studies are carefully reviewed, there is not a consistent message that gay men use drugs more than straight or bisexual men. In fact, it seems that while bisexual young people are more likely to use drugs than other sexual identity groups, gay young men are not necessarily more likely than straight men to use drugs, particularly alcohol.
Another source of the stereotype could reflect gay men when they are new to the gay scene, who are isolated, and reach out to other gay men through gay dating sites and gay bars, simply because it is the easiest way to meet peers and potential partners. The focus of these settings may be casual sex and even PnP, which can seem to be the norm. This doesn't reflect non-sexual relationships with other gay men who are not engaging in these activities, which can take time to develop.
The stereotype can also be reinforced deliberately and used to take advantage of the naivety of young, less experienced gay men. Some unscrupulous drug dealers take advantage of young, naive gay men by selling them drugs apply peer pressure by implying that drug use is what all gay men are doing, rather than that they are exploiting a young man to do something unwise or unusual.
Another place these myths come from is die-hard homophobes. Homophobia may be conscious or unconscious, but some very harmful attitudes towards gay men emerged in the 1980s, and for some people, have not disappeared. These attitudes can include the belief that gay men are more likely to both use drugs and to engage in compulsive sex than heterosexuals.
In reality, drug use and sex addiction can occur in men or women, and in both heterosexuals and sexual minorities. Although party and play are typically used to describe gay drug-fuelled sex, in fact, the practice of taking drugs prior to casual sex is common among sex workers, who have to cope with a variety of stressors, including having sex with people they are not attracted to. And the phenomenon of heterosexuals getting intoxicated and even front-loading before engaging in casual sex is so common as to be considered normal in many communities, particularly among younger people.
Drug Use and Sex = Party and Play
When people use the term "party and play" (or PnP for short), "party" usually means taking drugs with other people, or maybe just one other person, and "play" means sex. Party and play is most commonly used in the gay community as an expression for two or more gay men getting together to use recreational drugs to enhance sex.
The drug typically referred to is crystal meth, although the term party and play can actually mean recreational use of any type of drug during sex between people of any sexual orientation when the drug is used to enhance the sexual experience in some way.
Party and play may involve group sex, but it can also be used to refer to one-on-one sexual encounters involving drugs.
There has been a lot of speculation, anecdotal evidence and research looking at the phenomenon of party-and-play activities on the gay scene. In these reports, emphasis is placed on the acceptability of anonymous sex, free from the constraints of conventional relationships, among gay men.
One of the main reasons suggested is that young gay men are often unable to meet potential partners in mainstream settings, so they tend to use gay bars, clubs, gay dating sites and chat rooms to meet sexual partners. Drug use has often been quite prevalent in these settings, and so drugs and casual sex often go hand-in-hand.
Some of the other reasons given for why gay men party and play is to make gay sex easier from a physical point of view (for example, to enable a greater level of relaxation, which is helpful during anal sex), and to increase sexual arousal and stamina — the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra is often used for this purpose. It has also been documented that drugs can increase the courage required for barebacking.
Using drugs to enable uncomfortable sex and to cope with underlying feelings of shame and depression have long been associated with sex work — exchanging sex for money, drugs, or other things - for men and women. Commercial sex workers and gay men looking for party-and-play sex partners are at increased risk of HIV infection. The increase in HIV rates among gay men since the meth epidemic of the past decade has been well documented.
However, prevention strategies have targeted gay men more extensively than sex workers, who tend to be stigmatized by society, despite the fact that many sex workers are victims of sexual abuse. To them, sex work is a means of survival rather than a positive choice.
Is PnP a Rite of Passage Into the Gay Community?
While some gay men assert that party-and-play involvement is a kind of initiation into the gay scene, in fact, many gay men choose not to use drugs or to have anonymous or unprotected sex. Anal sex is also an activity that is by no means universal among gay men, whether facilitated by drug use or not.
It is unfortunate that some vulnerable young men, uncertain of their sense of belonging in the gay community, buy into these myths and take drugs in order to perform and feel part of the gay scene. It also feeds a false negative stereotype of gay men as superficial, irresponsible and uninterested in committedrelationships.
If you are pressured by anyone to engage in drug-fueled sex, particularly group sex, you might consider that, rather than being typical of gay men, this may be an issue for that particular individual and might represent other problems, such as sex addiction. You certainly shouldn't do anything involving sex or drugs to try and gain acceptance by another individual or group, as the risks are too high. Always practice safe sex by using a condom when you have sex.
Gay Men High Risk
Most of the research relates to gay men and the most popular drugs for this group were cannabis and poppers.Gay men were found to be most likely to use poppers, while cannabis was the most popular drug for lesbians.Gay men were also found to be at risk from abusing drugs such as steroids and Viagra and a 2000 study of gay men in London gyms found one in seven had used steroids in the last 12 months.
A number of studies have suggested that Viagra use in particular is linked with sexual risks.Other drugs commonly taken were cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, amphetamine and methamphetamine (crystal meth).There was little evidence available on drug abuse in bisexual and trans people.
The review also found that the LGBT community were most likely to be "early adopters" of new drugs and may experience problems and side effects before the rest of the population.Health services often focused on heroin and crack cocaine, the report said, meaning that problems with drugs in the LGBT community – which tends not to use these drugs – were often not adequately addressed.It recommended that a 'kite mark' system be developed to mark out mainstream health services which demonstrate good practice in dealing with drug problems in the LGBT community and also suggested different approaches to raising awareness, such as internet sites, new social media campaigns and events at community venues..
Stonewall is a British charity dedicated to achieve equality and justice for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people. Ruth Hunt, Stonewall's head of policy, said to Pink News:
– We welcome the work of the Home Office and are pleased that the government is looking at how lesbian and gay people can be encouraged to seek help about drug abuse.The study confirms what Stonewall has known for some time – that LGB people use drugs more than heterosexual people but don't feel able to seek advice from the health service.The NHS needs to target lesbian and gay people to encourage them to seek advice.
The Origins of Gay Drug Use
For many young gay men, the use of drugs begins in the teenage years. This is a time of great confusion and emotional pan for many gay men who are struggling with isolation from family and friends because of their sexuality. Society places a great deal of pressure on young gay men who have not yet come out of the closet. Confused and lacking guidance or support, many will turn to drugs as a means of self-medicating their pain.
This creates a series of bad habits that can continue on well into adulthood. And when that gay man comes of age in a community with a heavy night-life scene – and drugs available at every turn – they will be that much more likely to abuse or become addicted because of their background.
Among gay men, the “Party and Play” scene has been growing in popularity over the past decade. These sessions, which are generally organized on Craigslist or other websites feature intense drug taking and sex with multiple partners. Crystal meth and ecstasy are the drugs of choice for these “instant parties” because of their psychotropic effects, and in the case of crystal meth, their ability to help people stay awake well into the night and prevent ejaculation during sex.
It is of course the dangerous cloud of unprotected sex with multiple partners that hangs over these Party and Play gathering. Although significant enhancements have been made in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, and a diagnosis of the disease is no longer the death sentence it once was, the fact remains that the disease is still a threat to the gay community, and is only exacerbated by the use of crystal meth and other drugs.
Gay communities such as New York City’s Greenwich Village or Los Angeles’ West Hollywood are home to a number of bars and clubs that cater exclusively to gay men. It is the safety and inclusiveness of these neighborhoods that seems to inspire such heavy drug use. Individuals who may have long been ostracized in their own small town come to the “big city” and find a welcoming environment where, for the first time, everyone is just like them.
This comfort level leads individuals to release their inhibitions more than they generally would – which can lead to drug abuse. As a result, party drugs and stimulants tend to thrive in these areas.
Another factor to consider is the collective use of drugs in the party scenes of these communities. When drugs are taken by an individual in isolation, there is still a stigma to the behavior that keeps many from using and therefore developing an addiction. In the gay nightlife scene, however, there is a “community feel” to the use of crystal meth and other drugs. This puts an inherent stamp-of-approval on the behavior that makes it difficult for many gay men to abstain or seek out drug rehab treatment.
Many rehab facilities report high levels of relapse among gay men because they fear being ostracized from their peer groups or being unable to take part in the social activities that they enjoy. Because drug addiction is a group problem, it is up to the gay community as a whole to change the behavior of its citizens. Until this community stands up and says “crystal meth is bad” in a committed, organized way, the levels of addiction – and subsequent health problems – will continue on at a high level.
Drug Addiction in the Gay Community
Because of their unique place in American society, gay men may benefit from drug addiction treatment programs that are geared specifically for them. Unfortunately, with exception of facilities located in large cities with considerable GLBT communities, few such treatment facilities currently exist. Instead, gay men seeking drug rehab are best served by addiction treatment facilities that understand their special needs and often “programs within the program” that are designed to address gay-specific issues. It is important to ask the admission personnel at any drug rehab facility a few simple questions:
Are there any members of the treatment staff who are gay, or have experiencing treated homosexuals in recovery?
Does the facility see a considerable number of gay men and women come through the program?
Are there counseling sessions designed to meet the needs of the gay addicts?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then this facility is likely to be an appropriate choice for treatment. It is important to find a facility that is accepting of everyone’s sexuality – and more importantly will be able to knowledgably address the root causes of addiction in gay men during counseling. Located in Palm Springs, California, Michael’s House is a residential addiction treatment center that fully understands the unique needs of its gay patients. The caring staff at Michael’s House creates a safe, inviting atmosphere where gay men and women can feel comfortable discussing the issues related to their drug use and their sexuality. Contact Michael’s House today for more information.
Unfortunately in the UK we don't have any support to this high standards because the number of addicts to crystal meth is low no one makes any money out of such a low number there for the government is not interested, unlike the heroin addiction where the number are great and money is there to be made.
Heroin addiction. This powerful opiate remains one of the most dangerous in the world. The constant fear of overdose, long-term health problems and the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS all make heroin addiction a certified killer.
Cocaine addiction. Although cocaine use is nowhere near its peak from the 1980s and 1990s, thousands of people each day enter drug rehab in an attempt to break free from the strong psychological pull of cocaine addiction.
Marijuana addiction. While medical professionals debate whether or not marijuana is technically addictive, the drug continues to keep individuals from reaching their full potential and even acts as a gateway drug to more serious substances.
Prescription drug addiction. Prescription painkillers are the drugs of choice for many people, both young people and adults, around the country. Opiates, including Vicodin and OxyContin, are highly addictive and can be as dangerous as heroin if given the wrong set of circumstances.
In recent years, club drugs, which include MDMA (ecstasy), methamphetamine, powdered cocaine, ketamine, and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) (Halkitis, Green, & Mourgues, 2005; Li, Stokes, & Woeckener, 1998), have become a very popular and accepted part of gay socialization (Green, 2003; McDowell, 2000). Club drugs are widely used throughout the gay and bisexual male community and are often used in the context of nightclubs and bars (Halkitis & Parsons, 2002)
While these drugs remain a popular aspect of gay social culture, GHB has been frowned upon by many club drug users because of its potentially dangerous physiological effects (Nguyen & Bersten, 2004). The social stigma that surrounds the use of this drug is likely related to its high overdose prevalence. Many GHB users themselves predict that other users will eventually over-dose at some point (Degenhardt, Darke, & Dillon, 2003).
High overdose rates are demonstrated in the DAWN Report, which shows that GHB emergency room mentions in U.S. hospitals have recently peaked at 4969 mentions in 2000 (Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2004).
GHB, a central nervous system depressant, affects the body in much the same way as alcohol (Gessa et al., 2000). Users report that GHB induces a pleasant state of relaxation and tran-quility (McDowell, 2000) and enhances one’s libido (Nicholson & Balster, 2001).
However, GHB has a steep dose–response curve (Galloway et al., 1997); small increases in dose greatly increase GHB’s effect, oftentimes leading to adverse reactions such as drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, myoclonic seizures (irregular, involuntary muscle contractions), coma of short duration, or death (Kam & Yoong, 1998).
Adverse effects are most commonly reported at doses greater than 1 tsp. (2.5 g) (Chin, Kreutzer, & Dyer, 1992; Dyer, 1991) and overdoses are likely to occur because concentrations of the drug vary, and thus users are not always aware of the amount they are ingesting. In addition, GHB overdose is likely when combined with alcohol and/or other illicit substances (Galloway et al., 1997; Miotto et al., 2001).
Participants were recruited from February 2001 through October 2002 using active and passive techniques in venues frequented by gay and bisexual men. Potential participants were screened for eligibility via telephone interviews.
Eligibility requirements included being 18 years of age or older, self-identifying as gay or bisexual, and self-reporting six instances of club drug use in the year prior to assessment. For the purposes of our study, club drugs were defined as GHB, ketamine, ecstasy (MDMA), methamphetamine, and powdered cocaine
Those who met eligibility requirements were scheduled for a baseline interview, when the initial assessment, consent, and confirmation of HIV status occurred.
All quantitative assessments were administered via the Audio CASA system (ACASI), using a computer and voice recording so that the participant heard (through headphones) and saw (on the screen) each question and response list. After completing the quantitative portion of the assessment, trained staff members conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews covering a variety of topics related to drug use, sexual behavior and psychological states. The Institutional Review Board of New York University approved the protocol for this study.
The transcribed interviews from men who identified GHB as their most frequently used drug were selected for this analysis. The qualitative data derived from these participants were analysed using a multilevel process to determine reoccurring themes. Two authors independently identified important points discussed by the participants and a consensus was reached regarding the occurrences and classification of significant themes, and yielded an agreement of over 90%.
Our thematic analysis of these 15 transcripts provided information on three main domains: perceived stigma associated with GHB use, tolerance of potentially deadly outcomes associated with GHB use, and explanations for why GHB is preferred over other substances. Each of these themes is described below.
A common theme involving social stigma surrounding GHB use was prevalent within this sub-sample of men. Unlike the stigma many club drug users suffer from mainstream society (Ritson, 1999), GHB users tend to be additionally stigmatized by other club drug users who have heard of or seen incidents of GHB overdose within their own social circles.
In fact, a subset of participants in our own study held such beliefs about GHB prior to initially using the substance; three participants described their original negative attitudes toward GHB yet decided to try the drug anyway. One participant explained overcoming his initial fears of the drug and gaining confidence in safety as his use increased.
At first I was afraid to try G (GHB) because I saw a few of my friends passing out on it, but then I started on it with small dosage and it doesn’t really do much, and then I went up in dosage to like another level and it hit me really good and I-since I have started on G, I have never passed out on G on any occasion
CIA and Spread Drugs to the Gay Community
"The CIA literally sent over two guys to Sandoz Laboratories where LSD had first been synthesized and bought up the world's supply of LSD and brought it back," Lappé tells Nick Gillespie in a wide-ranging conversation about the longest war the U.S. government has fought. "With that supply they began a [secret mind-control] program called MK Ultra which had all sorts of other drugs involved."
The different episodes cover the history of drug prohibition, the rise of the '60s drug counterculture; heroin epidemics past and present; how drug policy has warped U.S. foreign policy in Southeast Asia, Central America, Afghanistan, and beyond; the bipartisan politics of prohibition; and much more. America's War on Drugs features exclusive and rarely seen footage and documents how, time and time again, the government was often facilitating trade and use in the very drugs it was trying to stamp out.
The show's website adds articles, short videos, and more information in an attempt to produce an "immersive experience" that will change how viewers think and feel about prohibition.
Lappé, who has worked at Vice, Huffington Post, and elsewhere, tells Gillespie that he is particulary excited to see his series air on the History Channel because it's an indicator the drug-policy reform is in the air. Though not a libertarian himself, he says "a great trait of libertarianism...is that knowledge and reason will eventually win out over keeping things in the dark, making things taboo
." Even when it veers off into questionable territory (such as the role of the government in creating the crack epidemic of the 1980s), America's War on Drugs performs the invaluable function of furthering a conversation about drug policies and attitudes that have caused far more harm than they have alleviated.
Chemsex Addiction – What Help Is Available
When substance abuse and/ or sex addiction take over, it can be a very scary, disempowering and isolating experience. The feeling of not being able to stop, even if you desperately want to, can be confusing and incredibly frightening. Increasing consequences of chemsex – such as damage to relationships, health, finances, employment and self-respect – can mount up over time.
Not everyone who participates in chemsex will have a bad experience or get addicted, but for those who do, the consequences can be devastating. As addiction progresses, people can take greater risks to achieve to same highs they achieved early on, increasing the amounts of drugs they take or the kind of sexual activity they’ll participate in.
And there’s a further issue for people from the LGBT community. Often, gay people already feel a certain amount of stigma due to their sexuality and experiencing homophobia in society. Coming forward for help with chemsex addiction can be extremely difficult because it requires an enormous amount of trust that they will not be even further stigmatised. There are specialist support workers in London, including 56 Dean Street, who are available advise gay men about safer chemsex practices, which is a vital source of information and support.
But what about people who want to stop chemsex altogether? Professional addiction help, including residential treatment, is available for chemsex addicts. UKAT treats all forms of drug addiction, often in combination with behavioural or process addictions including sex. We specialise in abstinence-based rehabilitation programmes with medically supervised detoxification if required, in order for clients to confront the harms of their addiction, as well as uncover the root causes of addictive behaviours.
Chemsex recovery starts with a willingness to abstain from chemsex, in order to gain understanding into the physical, mental and emotional drivers for addictive behaviours. If you want to stop chemsex but cannot do it alone, UKAT have a range of residential treatment facilities, to suit all budgets and personal requirements.
M I Ro
Photos by Pixabay.com