Chemsex and the Coronavirus Lockdown
The Corona Virus pandemic has created an unprecedented situation in our social lives. The Government has issued guidance that we should stay at home to protect ourselves, the NHS, and others.
It is important this this is adhered to in relation to chemsex and other sexual activities.
Put simply - stay at home, have a wank.
Please remember that we are still delivering our services remotely, and you can contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the team will get back to you. We can currently offer support via email, phone or online video.
Don't hook up
Firstly of course we advise that you do not engage in any chemsex hook ups, be that one to one or in a group setting, so that you limit the risk to yourself and others in terms of contracting or passing on the virus.
There is emerging evidence that suggests methamphetamine use and HIV may increase the risk of Covid-19 progression. We have also heard reports of arrests in Europe of groups of queer men who have ignored government advice on social distancing, and have got together for chemsex parties.
Take a break
This enforced period of social distancing offers opportunities to take a break from drug use. You can find information for making goals and dealing with cravings on our Antidote home care pages.
If you are currently dependent on GHB/GBL (using the drug on a daily basis) it is important you seek advice before suddenly stopping as withdrawals can be dangerous.
We've provided suggestions below for alternative activities to chems that you can access during lockdown.
Sexual Health Services
If you are still choosing to engage in chemsex activities at this time and are meeting others for sex, then please be aware of the following:
- Sexual health services are working at reduced capacity and are only seeing patients in an emergency or urgent cases.
- If you require PEP treatment then you should contact your local sexual health service for an emergency appointment.
- If you are currently taking PReP, and are engaging in sexual activity then you should continue with this. Further information regarding PReP can be found on the Prepster website.
- If you require STI testing then Sexual Health London are able to arrange home testing for you online.
- Further advice on chemsex and sexual health can be found here.
Apps & Social Media
Apps and social media can offer a lifeline for some during this period of lock down, and can support you in feeling connected to others within our community. However we advise that you limit your engagement to online interactions and do not hook up with others in person to ensure that you continue to limit any risk to yourself or others.
Online Video and Cam Services
Using online video and camming platforms is part of the way many people connect with others for chemsex related experiences. Using video does limit any Corona Virus health risk since interactions take place in a virtual space with no physical contact.
If though you are thinking about using these spaces to have chemsex experiences as an alternative to meeting in person, there are some things for you to consider as additional harms can arise in this scenario.
- If you are using substances on your own at home, there is more risk of overdosing with no access to help.
- Consent needs to be both considered and acquired during any online experiences you engage in. If you are unsure of what consent is then we have some advice here.
- If you become unwell, or develop any mental health issue during a webcasting chemsex experience then we advise you to come offline and seek either medical or professional support rather than taking the advice of anyone you are webcasting with. Information regarding chemsex and mental health can be found here.
- In all situations of chem use, we advise that you implement harm reduction advice into your sessions. Harm reduction advice can be found here.
A time to reach out
Consider making contact with family & friends by either phone or social media so that you remain connected to others. In light of the current lock down situation, most people would probably welcome the contact as there are many people in the UK who are also feeling cut off from the outside world.
In doing so there may be an opportunity to share your goals or any changes you have decided on with others. If you don’t feel that this would be an appropriate step to take, then use the contact with others to share any difficulties you are having with being isolated, or just to take your mind off being at home 24/7.
Taking this step may result in developing, or deepening the connections you have with others.
Reducing Boredom & developing connection with others
Feeling bored can often result in a return to old behaviours, so if you have decided on implementing change into your chem use, it will be important to engage in different activities at this time. Also, if your chemsex engagement mainly took place within a group setting then you may need to be a part of different groups in order to continue to feel connected. The following online resources then may just help you achieve this, and we will continue to update over the coming weeks.
Galop have a list of Community links to LGBT+ organisations and online forums.
LGBTribe offers peer to peer online support for the LGBT+ community.
Outlife have various LGBT+ forums that you may interest you, and to help you keep connected to others.
Black Out UK offers online resources to support BAME community.
+Pals, a social group for gay and bisexual men who are living with HIV in London, are currently offering phone/online support.
The Trans Network London lists various Trans organisations is London, some of which are offering online support.
Simon is also running A Change Of Scene weekly check ins on a Friday evening. You can email Simon directly at email@example.com for more information.
As well as offering constant contact with family & friends, Facebook also has numerous interest groups and daily live events that may be of interest to you.
Netflix has so much to watch including lots of LGBT+ related content.
BBC iPlayer has all BBC content that has been on the BBC channels.
Youtube are currently streaming lots of online quizzes and interest themed events.
Instagram are streaming daily quizzes live, as well as other specific interest themed events.
Time out online have a new section titled 'Time in' with listings of the best things to do at home.
The National Theatre are offering free live streamed plays every Thursday via youtube.
The British Film Institute are offering a 14 day free trial of their BFIplayer.
The Apple App store have lots of fitness apps to support you in exercising at home.
Zoom is an online video platform, to help you keep connected to family & friends, and offers group facilities.