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UK gay and bi men more likely to take drugs to enhance sexual experiences

UK gay and bi men more likely to take drugs to enhance sexual experiences

G'O Clock is a short film that follows a chemsex party where people use drugs and have sex | Photo: Mitch Marion

Residents in the UK are the most likely to combine drugs with sex, compared with the US, other European countries, Australia and Canada, a new research shows.

Researchers at University College London surveyed 22,000 people as part of the Global Drug Survey.

Respondents answered online questions about whether they use drugs specifically to enhance their sexual experience. Moreover, they specified which drugs they used in combination with sex.

Bi and gay men more likely to take sex-enhancing drugs

The Journal of Sexual Medicine study highlights alcohol, cannabis, MDMA and cocaine are the drugs respondents most commonly take when having sex.

Respondents further revealed MDMA increased ’emotionality/intimacy’ the most, while GHB/GBL increased ‘sexual desire’ the most.

Gay and bisexual men were more likely to have used substances to enhance their sexual experience, especially those typically considered as chemsex drugs, such as methamphetamine, mephedrone and GHB/GBL.

Particularly, gay men were 1.6 times as likely as straight men to have used drugs with the specific intent of enhancing the sexual experience in the last year.

Taylor harm-reduction messages is crucial

However, people of all genders and sexual orientations reported engaging in substance-linked sex.

‘While using drugs in combination with and to specifically enhance the sexual experience tends to be associated with gay and bisexual men, we found that in our sample, men and women of all sexual orientations engaged in this behaviour,’ the study’s lead author, Dr. Will Lawn, said.

‘However, differences between groups did emerge.’

‘Harm reduction messages relating to substance-linked sex in general should therefore not only be targeted towards gay and bisexual men, as they are relevant to all groups,’ he also said.

Senior author Professor Adam Winstock, founder and director of the Global Drug Survey added: ‘Our study is by far the largest to date to investigate the relationships between sex and drugs. Previous studies have rarely compared men and women, and people of different sexual orientations.

‘Furthermore, by appreciating how different drugs affect sex we can tailor our harm reduction messages. These pragmatic messages can save lives.’

People in the UK more likely to take drugs

Survey respondents were self-selecting rather than a representative sample.

Therefore, the researchers say their estimates of prevalence will be substantially larger than the general population. Nonetheless, relative differences between groups are expected to be reliable.

While respondents didn’t need to clarify their country of residence, currency was used as a proxy.

This revealed that those from the UK were more likely to have combined all substances except for cannabis, with sex. This trend was particularly relevant for mephedrone.

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