Chemsex Seminar




Karlbergsvägen 86B



22 February, 2019

10am -12pm

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To register you need to register first for iCAAD Stockholm

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Chemsex Workshop...

This is a workshop hosted by iCAAD and people within the LGBTQ community in Sweden. To come you must be registered for iCAAD Stockholm 2019 and will then be entitled to a free place on this Chemsex Workshop. 

"Chemsex and the pursuit of gay pleasure is killing a gay man each month in all the cities that host big gay communities around the world." - David Stuart

In Sweden, Chemsex is typically characterised as the combining of Crystal Meth and GHB (often combined with other drugs such as Ketamin, MDMA and Cocaine) used in sexual situations specifically by men who have sex with other men - MSM. It is also linked to strongly to “gay online hook-up culture” which can include apps like Grindr, Scruff, Zoom and so on.

The evolution of these apps from Gaydar and Manhunt in the early 2000s to smart phone apps current day have become a catalyst to the using of “chems” and their combining with sexual activity amongst the gay population. A unique and specific culture has evolved which now poses a serious threat to the physical, mental, social and sexual wellbeing of the gay community.


The Harms

  • The harms associated with ChemSex are many; GHB/GBL toxicity (overdose) is responsible for the death of 1 gay Londoner every month. 
  • Suicides born of Chem use (either comedown depressions, or drug-induced psychosis) fill our social media newsfeeds. 
  • The impacts on mental health, quality of life, relationships and communities are immeasurable. 
  • Poor sexual wellbeing, and damage to a person's concept of arousal, intimacy and relationships are evident. 
  • Sexual assaults while under the influence of drugs in sexually charged environments are common, and the very issue of consent to sex in relation to ChemSex is one that individuals and health services are grappling to understand & address. 
  • STI infections hepatitis C occur within ChemSex environments equate to a public health concern. HIV is perhaps the most devastating to an individual, and costly to public health. 
  • Every city is different in regard to how much infectious HIV exists within its' sexually active and injecting drug using populations. 
  • 1 in every 8 gay men in London is HIV positive (2016), about 20% of these unaware of their infection and therefore infectious. It is a credible assumption that the prevalence of infectious HIV that exists within chem-using populations, is higher than this still.


Men seeking help for ChemSex are not seeking support with a drug problem or an "addiction" issue; mostly they are seeking resolution to the sexual health consequences of their drug use. 


Those presenting for help with the actual ChemSex behaviour, are identifying issues around:

  • Seeking sex and relationships.
  • Struggling with online and App use behaviours
  • Issues around HIV fear and stigma
  • Struggling in their pursuit of connection and community
  • Many other gay cultural idiosyncrasies that impact their sex and romantic lives. 


This is not only a drug problem, but a gay sex problem.


To reduce the harms of ChemSex, means to develop a robust understanding of what we want our sex and romantic lives to be. We need to set goals and boundaries around that - and having the awareness and communication skills to pursue these goals/protect those boundaries. 

It is important that sexual health clinics and gay community organisations provide services that go beyond simple testing and prescribing of medicine.

In working with men engaging in Chemsex our work should be to address those harms not make generalisations about drug use or sexual behavior.  


At this seminar we want to focus on the affective aspects of services and approaches trying to help men recover from Chemsex.


What is needed by services trying to help men engaging in chemsex:

  • Cultural competence
  • Building pathways and partnerships
  • Taking a holistic approach - drug use mental health and physical health
  • Gather information so as to be able to respond better
  • Confidentiality and non judjemental counselling
  • Evaluate what is working
  • Share expertise
  • Offer educational - learning material
  • Create safe places to talk about this
  • Create a new view from relapse to RELEARNING
  • Use word sober rather than "clean"
  • Accept there is a continnuum from Harm reduction to Abstinence
  • Create within gay communities empathy and care


These topics will also be covered in the discussion…

Chemsex Drivers:

Disconnected sex - better sex through richer emotional connections

Community members to be nice to each other KINDNESS

Loneliness and boredom

Body image issues


Purpose versus desperation and disillusionment


Greater self care

Building community

Be caring of one another



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