The term ‘chemsex’ refers to the growing trend of using powerful disinhibitors like crystal meth, GHB and mephedrone, especially within the gay community.
The drugs increase the desire for sex and reduce sexual inhibitions but can have serious health consequences.
The practice has been highlighted following the high-profile case of Henry Hendron, whose 18-year-old boyfriend Miguel Jimenez died of an overdose.
The BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme looked at that case and spoke to Daniel May and Greg Owen who both have experience of chemsex and Hannah McCall, a specialist sexual health nurse at Central and North West London NHS Trust – she recently wrote an editorial in the British Medical Journal saying chemsex needs to become a public health priority.
See an excerpt from the programme here
Three illegal drugs have become known to health workers as the “un-holy trinity” of chemsex, as they are frequently used together.
- Mephedrone (or “meow meow”) is a light-coloured powder that acts as a powerful stimulant, and is closely related to ecstasy and speed. Effects can include euphoria and alertness but also paranoia, anxiety and vertigo. Risks include severe overheating and death.
- Crystal meth is part of the amphetamine family and is known for reducing inhibition. In cases of overdose – stroke, and lung, kidney and gastrointestinal damage can develop, and coma and death can occur. Long-term use can damage the brain.
- GHB (gammahydroxybutrate) and GBL (gammabutyrolactone) are usually sold as clear liquids. They have a sedative effect which can last up to seven hours, and produce feelings of euphoria. Risks include unconsciousness, coma and death. The substances are much more dangerous when consumed with alcohol.
- Mephedrone is a Class B drug. GHB and GBL are both Class C drugs. Crystal meth is Class A.
Anyone concerned about their use of drugs or alcohol can contact our local services for help and advice: