Chemsex: how to stay safer
When it comes to chems and partying, a bit of preparation and some simple boundaries will help to keep you safe.
Check in with yourself
Think about how you’re feeling at the moment. How is your mood? Have you been sleeping? When was the last time you laughed?
Ask yourself, “Am I OK to do this right now?”
Would it be better to book some time off in a couple of weeks and wait till then?
If you don’t know who you’re going to be playing with, try to go with a friend or someone you trust. Or at least let someone know where you’re going.
Make sure you have everything you need to stay safe and comfortable – measuring equipment, drinks, condoms and so on – before you party and play.
Last but not least, make sure you build in enough recovery time. Stock up the fridge and clear your diary.
Set some boundaries
Know your boundaries and stick to them as much as you can.
Think about how long you want a session to last and set limits for how much you’ll use.
Also think about how you’ll communicate your boundaries to other people.
Ideally you will know who you’re going to be playing with and agree things like using condoms and PrEP in advance.
Know your dose
Chems carry a high level of risk. Make sure you know your doses and stick to them.
Don’t be tempted to push your limits just because it’s a “big” weekend.
If you get some extra supplies from your dealer, leave whatever you don’t need at home out of temptation’s way.
Don’t try to keep up with other people or be pressurised into taking more than you usually do.
It’s especially important to measure the correct amount of G with a pipette. Because it’s harder to get the dose right, it’s easier to overdose (go under).
Time your doses of G carefully too. Perhaps take a screenshot of the time on your phone each time you dose yourself as a reminder.
Don’t mix your drugs
Mixing your drugs carries more risk and makes it harder for you to stay in control.
It’s especially important not to mix G with other depressant drugs like alcohol, ketamine or benzos. Doing this significantly raises your risk of going under.
If you use G to level yourself out after a hit of crystal, make sure you only take your usual dose.
Administer your own drugs
Always bring along your own equipment for measuring and administering your drugs.
Make a point of knowing what you’re taking and try not to let anyone else inject you. If they do, make sure you know what’s in the barrel and how much.
If you’re slamming it’s helpful to use coloured barrels so you know which is yours when you want to go again.
You can get these free from any needle and syringe service.
Keep taking your medicines (meds)
If you’re on regular meds, such as ART, PrEP or hepatitis (hep) C treatment, make sure you’re taking them as you should.
Bear in mind that some meds, including some anti-virals, can affect how your body processes chems, making them work slower or quicker.
If your liver is under pressure from hep C or other liver problems, this can also affect how your body processes chems.
Although PrEP protects you against HIV, you still need to use condoms. This protects you from other infections, including viruses spread through blood like hepatitis C.
It’s important to go for STI screenings every three months if you’re using PrEP.
Drugs can affect your body in different ways at different times. You can be taken by surprise even if you’re careful with your doses.
Start by taking slightly less than you would normally so you can “warm up” safely.
Consider smoking, snorting or eating rather than slamming to give yourself more control.
When to call an ambulance
Call 999 for an ambulance if you or anyone else:
- loses consciousness
- is in a confused state
- has seizures (fits)
- has pains in their chest
- is having difficulty breathing
Never share equipment
Sharing equipment raises your risk of blood viruses like hep C and HIV.
To protect yourself, take your own equipment to every party or chillout, including pipes, pipettes and measures, and never share.
You can get all the clean equipment you need for a session, including lube and condoms, from any needle and syringe service so don’t be shy to ask.
You can write down a list of everything you need and hand it over if you’re nervous about asking for it.
Know where you’re getting your drugs from
As with all drugs the strength and quality of chems can vary a lot.
If possible, always stick to the same supplier so you know what you’re dealing with.