Drugs have been part of the community for decades. Of course, there have been changes in how common drugs have been, which drugs have been taken, and how people have taken them. But it’s clear that things are changing fast right now. Even though some lgbtq people use drugs every day, most people who take drugs do it less often. Drugs are often taken before sex or a night out, to intensify feelings and lower inhibitions. The word “chemsex” means taking drugs in order to have a stronger or more intense sexual experience.
Click the buttons below to read more. If you want to reach our counselling services, click “support”.
LOWER THE RISKS OF CHEMSEX
- Be aware of your current physical and mental shape.
- Be extra careful if someone offers you drugs, or if you’re trying something you’ve never tried before.
- Don’t assume the strength of the drug is the same, even if you’ve bought it from the same person.
- Measure your dose of GHB/GBL. Never drink directly from the bottle.
- Don’t share needles or other tools.
- Bring condoms and lube, and gloves if you might be interested in fisting.
- Find and read information about the effects of drugs, and possible side effects.
- Get tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections, hiv and hepatitis C.
- If you have had unsafe sex where there has been a risk of hiv transmission, contact an STI clinic (Venhälsan, for example) or a hospital and ask for PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis, can stop hiv infection) as soon as possible.
- If you’re worried for your own sake or for someone else, talk to someone you trust, or to a counsellor.
Coming down from drugs is a bit like getting a hangover from alcohol. Some people just feel a little tired, but others may feel that it makes them want to stop taking drugs altogether. Different drugs have different after-effects, and how you feel while coming down will be different from person to person, depending on what drug you’ve taken and how much. Your after-effects can also change over time. If you can’t go to work in the morning without taking some more, it’s a good idea to talk to someone.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE ELSE HAS TAKEN TOO MUCH
- If you start to feel bad, nauseous or dizzy, tell someone right away. If you feel like you might pass out, lie on your side.
- If someone else has taken too many drugs – call for an ambulance (112). The police might come, but the most important thing is to prevent a death. If you can’t call, take a taxi, or let someone drive who has not had any alcohol or drugs.
- If someone has taken too much, never leave them alone.
- Make sure the person is breathing. If you know how, give them mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or CPR (emergency heart and lung support).
- Place the person on their side in a stable position. Guard the person so they do not choke if they vomit.
- If they are wearing a mask, a choker, or something else over face or neck, loosen it.
- Turn the lights on.
- Create a calm environment for the person.
Someone who has taken too many drugs runs a higher risk of being the victim of sexual abuse. Be an active onlooker – if you see something that looks like abuse, or if you think someone has taken too much, say something and try to stop what is happening.
If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, or if you think you might have been, there’s help. In Stockholm, the hospital Södersjukhuset has an emergency clinic for rape victims, Akutmottagningen för våldtagna , where you can get support and medical help. If you want to report sexual abuse to the police, they can help you do that.
It is common to find it difficult to put sexual abuse into words, especially if chemsex has been involved and boundaries have been unclear. If you are unsure about what has happened, it can be a good idea to talk to someone you trust or a counsellor. The STI clinic Venhälsan and the Sexperts both have counsellors you can talk to.
SUPPORT AND HEALTH
You can find information on support and health below.
THE SEXPERTS’ COUNSELLING CLINIC
Would you like to talk to someone about quitting drugs, taking less, taking a break or taking drugs in a safer way? We focus on your needs and your questions, and we’re here to give you support without moralizing.
We’re here to talk to anyone in the community who is over 18 and who has thoughts or questions around drugs and/or chemsex. If you are under 18 you can still contact us and we’ll help you find where to go.
At our clinic, you will talk to a social worker who has competence in issues around chemsex.
Here are some examples of what you could talk about:
- Thoughts about drugs and sex.
- Worries about yourself or a friend.
- Help to quit, take less drugs, take a break or take drugs in a safer way
- Help to contact health care, addiction care or government agencies
- Thoughts about selling sex.
To book a time or get advice:
Phone / text message: +46 (0) 76-394 84 05
Address: Alsnögatan 7, 3tr (Danvikstull) Entry phone: Sexperterna/Testpoint/RFSL Stockholm.
Drop-in dates in January and February:
Jan 18 18.00-20.00
Jan 25 18.00-20.00
Feb 1 18.00-20.00
Feb 8 18.00-20.00
Feb 15 18.00-20.00
Feb 22 18.00-20.00
A lot of people think the health care system will only focus on trying to get you to quit drugs, but you can get help no matter what you want to do. There are regional addiction programs that can help you. These programs will vary regarding their goals, their length, their content and their lgbtq competency. An important message is this: even if your first contact with a health care professional isn’t great, don’t give up.
It is important to know that all health care professionals are legally required to keep records. If you are worried that what you tell them will be visible to your other health care contacts, there are solutions. You can ask the person you see to help you block your journal by logging in at 1177.se. If you block your journal, only the relevant clinic can see the record.
1177.se has more information about where you can get help and support. To read more, click here – you can choose your region at the top of the page.
Needle exchange programs provide clean needles and tools, to lower the risk of hiv or hepatitis transmission. They are effective in helping people who inject drugs stay healthier.
These are some places that have needle exchange programs:
The social services in your municipality can offer help such as counselling and treatment.
It can feel like a big step to contact an addiction treatment centre, and there might be a stigma or a feeling that you don’t belong there. An alternative can be contacting your general practitioner doctor, or someone else you trust who works in health care. You can also ask to speak to a counsellor at Livsstilsmottagningen (the Lifestyle clinic) in Stockholm, or wherever you go to get tested for hiv or sexually transmitted infections. Venhälsan is an example. However, hiv clinics are not specially assigned to treat drug-related issues, and their counsellors may be fully booked. But it’s worth a try.
All the drugs listed below are illegal, but we have tried to describe them in a neutral way, based on facts.
Amphetamine is a chemical drug that stimulates the central nervous system. Amphetamine comes in pill or powder form, and it can be swallowed, snorted or injected. Taking amphetamine overstimulates the activity of dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain. It makes people feel more intensity and energy and higher self-confidence, among other things. Amphetamine also raises your pulse and blood pressure. Often, you lose the desire to eat and sleep while under the influence, while sexual urges and stamina increase at the start. Since amphetamine makes you more awake, some people use it to compensate for tiredness from drugs known as “downers”, for example GHB/GBL or ketamine.
If you become addicted, the positive feelings from the start turn into withdrawal and fatigue.
Different pills or powders can have different concentrations of amphetamine, which can lead to an unintended overdose. An overdose means a risk of collapse or death, because of how it affects the heart and breathing. Combining amphetamine and alcohol is worse for your health.
When using needles and other tools, there is a risk of getting or transmitting infections such as hiv and hepatitis. Many cities have needle exchange programs.
Some unwanted effects of amphetamine can be muscle spasms, teeth grinding and dry mouth. After coming down, you often feel depressive anxiety, paranoia and mood swings. Some psychotic and depressive side-effects can be long-lasting or permanent.
Cannabis is the collective name for a group of hemp plants that can be used to extract hash and marijuana. Hash is most often seen as cakes that look like liquorice or concentrated oils, while marijuana looks more like tobacco or dried grass.
You can smoke, eat or drink cannabis. The effect varies, and it depends quite a lot on the atmosphere and surroundings. Most often, you will first feel a sort of relaxed slowness, talk more and laugh more. After that, it’s common to get quiet, thoughtful and tired. The substance that makes you high is called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and is fat-soluble. This means it can be stored in your body fat and keep affecting the body for 3 to 4 weeks after the high.
Common side effects are anxiety, discomfort, panic and paranoia. Short term memory and the ability to learn get worse. If you use cannabis regularly, the negative effects on the brain can get stronger and last for a long time. Your logical thinking can get worse, and it can get difficult to reflect on yourself and the world around you. There is also a risk of psychosis. There may be hormonal changes that can lower your sex drive among other things. If you smoke the drug, it increases the risk of lung problems. Alcohol and cannabis together increase the risk of dizziness. Cannabis is also very mentally addictive.
Ecstasy (E) is a name for several chemically produced drugs that are most often seen as pills or small pieces of paper, similar to stamps and saturated with the drug. MDMA also comes as brown-coloured crystals that you swallow. There is no real difference between ecstasy and MDMA. What is in the drug can vary, but it is usually a central stimulant, meant to make you feel awake and alert with more energy, less inhibitions, euphoria and heightened senses. Of course, the strength of the effects varies with the dosage. It is difficult to know what dosage will give you what effect.
Ecstasy has come to be known as a club scene drug. It can sometimes increase the feeling that you and the people around you are hot and sexy, but it has a negative effect on erections and orgasms. For some people, Ecstasy/MDMA is a drug for partying, while others feel that it intensifies sex.
Ecstasy creates more of a mental addiction than a physical one. If you combine ecstasy and alcohol, the health risks are greater. This drug can increase your temperature and affect your body’s balance of liquids. If someone gets a heat stroke, you should cool down their body with a cool shower or bath. Drink liquids, but not more than half a litre per hour. More than that can cause water intoxication, which is a dangerous form of poisoning. If someone’s health is urgently in danger, it’s always best to call an ambulance.
Ecstasy can cause mental overstimulation. This often leads to things like fatigue, trouble sleeping, depression, anxiety, dry mouth, increased body temperature, sweating and dehydration. It can also cause psychosis with unpleasant hallucinations. Higher doses of ecstasy can lead to heart palpitations, high blood pressure and death. People who use the drug often and/or over longer periods of time can get depressions which are very hard to treat.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. It is used in health care when patients are in very severe pain. Fentanyl comes in patches, pills and spray, and it can also be injected. Depending on the compound, fentanyl can be over 100 times stronger than morphine. This means there is a high risk of overdosing. The risk of overdosing is also increased if you mix fentanyl with other drugs, which people often do. Combining fentanyl with alcohol and benzo also brings a higher risk of overdosing.
When it is used recreationally, fentanyl has a calming and euphoric effect. Coming down from the drug can give muscle pain, restlessness, anxiety and nausea. The coming-down process can be much harder than coming down from other opioids.
Naxolon is a medication that can reverse overdoses of opioids such as fentanyl. It blocks the brain’s opioid receptors and makes the person able to breathe again. Naxolon is not intoxicating and not dangerous. You need a prescription from a doctor to get it, or you can find it at some needle exchanges.
GHB/GBL (also known as G or gobbe) is a salty-tasting liquid with no colour or smell. It also comes in powder form. GHB/GBL increases your sex drive and lowers your inhibitions. If you take a higher dose, your judgment may be impaired so that you do things you were not planning to do. GHB/GBL also relaxes your muscles, which has made it a popular drug among people who enjoy things like fisting.
It is widely known that it’s very difficult to get the right dosage of GHB/GBL. This leads to many people experiencing unpleasant and dangerous effects, including death. GHB/GBL is measured in tenths of millilitres, and the difference between the dose you want and an overdose is very small.
- GBL is stronger than GHB. Make sure you know what you’re taking and how much. If you’re uncertain, don’t take any or take less than you’re used to.
- Different manufacturers can make their GHB/GBL with very different strengths.
- GHB/GBL makes you want more once you’ve taken some, a bit like how alcohol works. Many people set a timer on their phone.
- Combining GHB/GBL with alcohol comes with a higher risk of negative consequences.
- GHB/GBL is a downer drug. Never combine it with other downers such as ketamine.
- If someone around you has taken too much, always call an ambulance.
- Don’t leave a person who has taken too much alone. Sit next to the person, and make sure they don’t choke if they vomit or stop breathing.
The effect of the drug depends on your body weight, how healthy you are, your mood and the dosage you take, among other things. GHB/GBL can be addictive. Some side effects are nausea, vomiting and extreme fatigue. The experience can become unpleasant with elements of psychosis. Taking this drug in high doses, or in combination with alcohol and other drugs, can lead to breathing difficulties, unconsciousness, and in the worst case scenario, death, as it affects heart and breathing functions.
Ketamine (keta, Special K) is an anesthetic that is also used as a drug. Being on ketamine can feel like being in a trance with hallucinogenic elements. This drug is usually taken orally in pill form or as a powder snorted through the nose.
Ketamine is habit-forming. Do not use ketamine when you’re alone – you can lose your grip on reality. This drug can also make your balance and fine motor skills worse, which means you might fall and hurt yourself. As ketamine is an anesthetic, it probably won’t hurt when it happens, but most likely afterwards.
Do not combine ketamine with other drugs such as alcohol, heroin, GHB/GBL, or medications such as benzo.
Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system and has similar effects to amphetamine, but the experience is shorter and more intense. Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant, and it can be snorted (inhaled through the nose), eaten, injected or smoked. Taking cocaine overstimulates the dopamine activity in the brain. This gives a feeling of well-being and self-confidence. Your heart beats faster and the blood vessels expand. Sex drive and sensitivity increase and orgasms become more intense, but it may be more difficult to keep an erection. It is not a good idea to combine cocaine and alcohol.
Cocaine is very addictive, and it quickly burns out the brain’s natural reward system. After getting high, it’s common to feel depressed, anxious and/or paranoid. Regular snorting can damage the mucous membranes in the nose. If you use cocaine, remember to eat and drink, and let your body get enough rest.
LSD is a chemical psychedelic drug. It affects your sensory experiences, changing your perception of reality and your surroundings. The effects of LSD vary from person to person and from time to time. The experience can be exciting, but it can just as well be confusing or scary. The high can last for hours that feel like days.Sex on LSD can feel surreal, ecstatic or just weirdly awkward. LSD does not work well in a busy club, because it can intensify and distort sounds, lights and movements and make them unpleasant.
LSD comes in pill form or as saturated pieces of paper. There is a big difference between a weak dose and a strong one. A stronger dose can give unwelcome negative effects. It’s difficult to predict the effect of illegally produced drugs, because the active ingredient can be very different. Do not use the drug when you’re alone. Choose a safe environment where you can be calm and relaxed. If it’s possible, have someone you trust with you, so they can help you get help quickly if something goes wrong.
Common side effects are nausea, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, shakiness, dizziness and shivering. After taking LSD, many people feel depression and anxiety, and sometimes flashbacks, feeling high even though you haven’t taken the drug. LSD has strong effects on the psyche, and it can cause psychosis that may take a long time to disappear.
Methamphetamine (Tina, crystal meth, ice) is a synthetic central stimulant.
This drug is often associated with sex and sex parties, because it can increase your sex drive, stamina and self-confidence. It can be swallowed, snorted (inhaled through the nose), smoked or injected/slammed.
Methamphetamine is very addictive. It quickly burns out the brain’s natural reward system, making it difficult to feel any positive effects from things that usually make you happy. The days after taking the drug, it’s common to feel depression, anxiety, paranoia and mood swings. It can be a challenge to be able to enjoy sex without methamphetamine. The positive sexual effects are so strong, many users feel like sex without drugs isn’t as exciting. After a while, you might never have sex without taking drugs, and the two activities become strongly connected.
If you use methamphetamine, remember to eat and drink, and let your body get enough rest. If you choose to inject/slam, it’s important to use clean needles and tools. Many cities have needle exchange programs.