A DJ originally from Singapore has made a thought-provoking video as to why gay men are turning to chemsex drugs.
He says chemsex addiction is a growing problem among gay men in Asia.
‘There’s a lot of inherent guilt and fear when we have sex’
‘There something happening in our community today that we desperately need to have a conversation about,’ he begins by saying.
‘We have all been brought up to believe that gay sex is unnatural: that gay sex will buy us a one-way ticket to hell. That if we have gay sex, we will all eventually die of AIDS.
‘Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of inherent guilt and fear when we have sex, so many of us resort to alcohol and drugs in a bid to loosen up.’
Chemsex drugs include ecstasy, crystal meth (also known as Tina or Ice) and GHB. All are taken while clubbing or prior to sex to heighten or alter the experience.
DJ Big Kid talks about each of these, highlighting how easy it is to overdose on GHB or become addicted to crystal meth.
Hardcore users of both drugs can find themselves engaging in sexual marathons with other men, sometimes attending chemsex parties for many hours or even days at a time. This can put them at risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
He admits that the idea of chemsex parties may sound ‘like fun and games,’ but points out the true consequences of a crystal meth addiction are ‘nothing short of devastating’.
Meth addicts retreat into an underground world of meth use and chemsex parties, isolating themselves from friends and family, and often undergoing dramatic changes in behavior or personality.
Successful careers can hit the skids, and homes, health and livelihoods lost.
‘How we respond will be a true test of friendship’
There’s no easy solution, and it can be tempting to condemn or judge others for using drugs. However, drug addiction is more complex than some presume.
‘How we respond will be a true test of friendship and family. Some of us have gone on social media to express disgust and anger at those who struggle with this and have used hard words of condemnation.
‘That is not the right response.
‘Doing so only serves to alienate our friends struggling with this. We need to leave morality and judgment out of this and acknowledge that addiction is a disease. It is a mental health issue not a moral issue.’
He says he was moved to make the video as ‘We are losing too many to meth addiction and it seems like this problem is fast turning into a crisis.’
‘We are ashamed to admit this problem exists’
Speaking to GSN, DJ Big Kid said he had decided to speak out, ‘Because I know of so many friends, some close and others acquaintances who have had their lives spin out of control because of chemsex and crystal meth addiction.
‘It seems like in Asia, the situation is on a downward spiral but we aren’t even having a conversation about it just because that scene operates under the cover of darkness and we don’t ordinarily come face to face with it.
‘It is also an uncomfortable topic to discuss and we are ashamed to admit this problem exists.’
‘Try and listen in a non-judgmental manner’
Ian Howley, chief executive of UK-based gay men’s health charity GMFA agrees that gay men get involved with chemsex for complex reasons.
‘Some may get involved through friends, some may get involved by accident and some may get involved because they actually want to,’ he said.
‘However there are increasing signs that many who get involved with chemsex do so because they might be going through some issues in their life and their self-esteem and self-worth might be low.
‘GMFA has worked with gay men who got involved because of a bad break up, depression due to isolation in a big city and some because they recently received a HIV diagnosis and they feel they’ve hit rock bottom.
He says that a lack of knowledge around the drugs greatly increases the risk of overdose of long-term health damage.
‘If you are involved in chemsex or think this is something that you might get involved with then it’s best to increase your knowledge of the drugs involved, how to use them and what to do if something goes wrong.
‘Feeling like chemsex is taking over your life? It’s best to talk to your local GUM clinic who will have experience in chemsex and how best to help you get the support that you require.
‘If you are friends with someone who is involved with chemsex, then the best thing you can do is make sure they have all the information they require to do it as safely as possible.
He agreed with DJ Big Kid that it’s best to avoid moralizing when it comes to drug use.
‘If your friend wants to talk to you about their drug use try and listen in a non-judgmental manner. This will let them know that they can come to you if or when things go wrong. Have some information to hand about chemsex support services that can help.
‘The best way, we as a community, can stop chemsex from ruining us is to make sure we can be open with each other about it.
‘However, we must also address the reasons why gay men are getting involved with chemsex and find a healthier solution, that stops those who are not able to deal with the impact chemsex can have, to make better health choices.’
• London Friend runs Antidote – a service for LGBTI people concerned about their drug or alcohol use in the UK.
• GMFA is another UK-based gay men’s health charity.
• GMHC is a New York-based gay men’s health charity.
• Check out these support helplines for more advice.