Drugs and sex, the bad Charentais cocktail

Drugs and sex, the bad Charentais cocktail

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For the psychiatrist, who works in parallel on behalf of the Addictions France association, this increasingly visible phenomenon can be explained after two years of health crisis and drastic restrictions. The consequences for patients are catastrophic.

Experiments can last several hours or even days. Such a duration is only possible by multiplying the drugs.

Where does chemsex come from and what is it?

Frederic Antuna. It comes to us from the Anglo-Saxon gay culture. The term is just the contraction of two English words, “chemistry” [chimique] and “sex” and says its name well. In the context of sexual relations, sometimes with several partners, it boils down to taking psychoactive substances and aims to increase the intensity and duration of carnal pleasures: increased stamina, libido… Inhibition of partners is greatly diminished and the experience sought is multiplied by ten. At the end of the 2010s, these practices were still marginal, in certain Parisian circles and in some large cities in France.

In 2020 we see that serious cases of addiction have tripled nationally and it no longer concerns only the gay community. Therefore, with the trivialization of certain products, it is normal for these risky practices to reach the smallest towns, as is now the case in Charente, Angoulême or Cognac. Dating apps have done a lot to popularize the practice, especially since lockdown.

In the cases you have observed, how do you assess the risks of the practice?

Already, the simple consumption of narcotics constitutes an assumption of risks for the body. On the other hand, it is the context that is particular here. Sometimes we have to deal with young people who have very little experience in the field of love and whose emotional life is very short. Without milestones, the emotional shock is very great. Narcotics then act as multipliers and, ultimately, if the practice is repeated, as a refuge. In the end, if we summarize, young people have sex only under the influence and prefer to repeat these experiences for fear of losing intensity or simply not being more successful.

The other aggravating factor is the accumulation of substances reported by some patients I treat. In Cognac, the testimonials speak of experiences that can last several hours, even several days. Such a duration is only possible by multiplying the drugs. However, a single dose of cathinone, a powerful stimulant, can be fatal in combination with GHB and alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol is very often systematically present, as one of the first access points.

Finally, another great risk continues to be the very important risks of sexually transmitted diseases in a context where all vigilance falls.

Chemsex multiplies risk behaviors. So we imagine that the support is not exactly the same for these new patients.

The phenomenon is already new in Charente. Professionals should take the time to educate themselves and read the specialized literature because chemsex is not known for what it is: new followers themselves do not necessarily mention it in these terms. I myself had to follow certain training courses. On the other hand, chemsex also involves different practices. When the injection of stimulants is performed intravenously in the context, always, of sexual intercourse, then we speak of “slam”. We are still passing a course on the dramatic health consequences.

So that’s the big unknown…

In addition, the follow-up must be above all medical. So, the follow-up is done in the long term because we don’t know how the patients are going to evolve. Young people who build their sexuality through the consumption of products, we have no idea what this can cause as damage in the future. It’s not the 70s and yé-yé anymore. Today’s drugs are getting stronger, more addictive and cheaper. Some are available between 5 and 20 euros per gram. Neurological disorders will undoubtedly increase in the coming years.

The editorial advises

chemsex figures

Within the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), the TREND (Recent Trends and New Drugs) systems focus on groups that consume psychoactive products. If chemsex practices were reported for the first time in Lille and Metz in 2017, Bordeaux watchers warn about “the increasingly uninhibited nature of exchanges around chemsex practices on social media”. This considerably complicates the identification of the phenomenon, especially among younger audiences. The regional figures of the Regional Coordination Committee for the fight against infection by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (COREVIH) of New Aquitaine are instructive. They report 22 cases of coma, 11 cases of seroconversion and 57% of the patients surveyed report episodes of behavioral violence during these famous games. In addition, 36% of observed followers are victims of paranoid disorders after a chemsex experience. The scope of the phenomenon is such that Bordeaux University Hospital has launched its Chemsex Awareness Days since 2019, which have been repeated every year since then.

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