ChemSex Self-help

Remaining in control of Chemsex and your relationship with sex and drugs can sometimes be challenging. Using chems can be a way to forget other issues and challenges we might have in life.

For example, how you feel about yourself, your sexuality, HIV status and negative experiences of discrimination or coming out - can each be challenges we use drugs to cope with. When you are using something to cope with issues in your life, it can be difficult for to reduce the chems you take or to change your relationship with chems - especially if you feel that you benefit from using them. 

In this section, we want to give you some tips on how you can help yourself take control of the Chemsex you have while looking at creating a healthier relationship with chems - whatever that means for you. 

Sober Sex

Sober sex is sex without the use of chems. This means you are not using drugs to enhance the sex you have. Often, going back to sober sex can be a scary thought. If you have been using chems for a while, you might not know where to start. Sometimes it can be good to think back to a time when you had sex that you enjoyed without chems. Then think about what it was that you liked about it. This can help build a relationship with sex again without drugs. If you are scared or anxious about this then you can talk to your local gay men’s service or sexual health service. 

Identify the Change You Want to Make

Making changes to your sex life is often tricky. Try and identify what it is that you want to change.

It might be reducing your use of chems, stopping altogether, or not meeting guys specifically for Chemsex.

Abstinence or Stopping All Together

For many men, stopping chems all together is no mean feat. Stopping altogether will often mean that you are making a significant change in the way you meet men for sex and how you feel about the sex you are having. It might mean that you need to meet men in different ways, such as dating rather than going to a ‘chillout’ or party. If you want to think about stopping altogether it is worth trying to identify what your triggers might be that ignite the pull towards engaging in Chemsex. By its nature, Chemsex often makes men crave the experience. This is similar to other addictions and it is worthwhile reaching out for help if you need to. Some alcohol and drug agencies have been trained in Chemsex so will understand your situation without judgement. You can also touch base with your local gay men’s agency or sexual health clinic for advice and support.

Some tips that might help you along the way if you would like to stop being involved in Chemsex include:

  • Meeting friends away from the Chemsex scene.
  • Examining and rebuilding your relationship with apps; what do they mean to you; what sex do you want to have or find rewarding?
  • Consider speaking to someone, either in one to one support, counselling or group support.
  • Look at other issues and challenges you might be having in your life that means you might be using chems as a way to cope and, seek support. 
Reducing ChemSex

For some men, reducing Chemsex is easier to achieve than stopping altogether. This way you can look towards achieving something that might be manageable, whether it’s a break from Chemsex, or changing the frequency of chillouts you attend or the number of guys you have sex with. Here are a few questions you may wish to ask yourself:

  • When are you more likely to engage in chems?
  • Are you more likely to do this at a certain point of the day or at a specific point in the week?
  • Is there a specific behaviour that makes it more likely that you will engage in Chemsex, such as using recreational drugs, alcohol, going to certain clubs or pubs? 
  • If you are feeling horny, is this a trigger? If this is the case, what is it you are looking for and what alternatives can you do to deal with being horny? This might include wanking or meeting guys who don’t use chems for sex.
  • Are the apps triggering your thoughts about Chemsex?
  • Do you keep bumping into other chem users?
  • Are you more likely to use chems when you are feeling down or when you are trying to cope with other issues in your life?

It can be helpful to write down your answers to these questions and reflect about what you write.

Once you have asked yourself these questions, it is worth thinking about what you can do differently to stop you from using chems. Here are some examples:

  • If you are more likely to have Chemsex at certain points of the day or week, then think about what you can do to occupy yourself during these times. This could be something like taking up a new activity or meeting different friends at these times.
  • If it is when you are drinking alcohol or taking recreational drugs, it might be worth trying to have a break from these activities also. 
  • If Chemsex happens more often, especially when you are horny, maybe avoid using the apps and have a wank to kill the urge.
  • If the apps are where you find the triggers, then block the guy, or guys, that cause the issue or delete the app and use ones where Chemsex is less prevalent.
  • Many guys find their chem use is triggered when they are feeling down. Sometimes it is worth speaking to someone about your mental health and wellbeing. This can be through your local services or by checking out our service finder here.
  • Some guys find dating and going for meals or drinks with friends helps them feel more connected and less likely to feel alone and engage in chem use.

In addition to the above, you can also do other things to help you feel better about your emotional wellbeing. These include:

  • Exercising, which can help you feel better about yourself.
  • Eating healthily can help you build energy and resistance.
  • Connecting with others can help you feel less isolated and help you feel supported.

Check out our mental health section for more links and tips.

Looking for support? Can't find the answers you need online? Fill out our self-referral form, and one of the team will get back to you.