Some gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) use drugs specifically to facilitate or enhance sexual encounters. This phenomenon is commonly called party and play (PnP) or chemsex. There are a variety of reasons why gbMSM participate in PnP.
Even though PnP has been widely associated with gay men and with men who have sex with other men, it spans sexual preferences. The practice dates back to the seventies, but it has peaked since 2010 or so.
What drugs are used for PnP?
The drugs most commonly associated with PnP in Canada are crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth), gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and ketamine. These drugs are used because they increase sexual arousal and performance, while encouraging disinhibition.
Men who PnP may also use other substances, such as poppers, cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), cannabis and alcohol before, during or after a PnP session. Erectile dysfunction drugs (such as Viagra) are used by some men to counter the effects of crystal meth or ketamine, which may make it difficult to get or keep an erection. Mixing different drugs can be dangerous as it can lead to drug interactions or potential overdose. For example, mixing poppers and Viagra can cause a drop in blood pressure, which can lead to fainting, a stroke or a heart attack.
Do gbMSM who PnP have higher rates of HIV, hepatitis C and STIs?
Because of their participation in sexual and drug use behaviors that may increase their risk of HIV, hepatitis C, and STIs, gbMSM who practice PNP may have higher rates of these three infections.
A systematic review of sexual drug use among MSM found an increased prevalence of gonorrhea and chlamydia, particularly among men who used crystal meth. Men who used crystal meth or injected drugs were more likely to contract hepatitis C than men who did not use crystal meth or inject drugs.
Various studies in Europe and North America have found that gbMSM who participate in PnP are more likely to contract bacterial STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis) than gbMSM who do not participate in PnP.
It’s risky and can be damaging for your health so what’s the Point?
Anyone who enjoys using drugs and also enjoys sex (whether with same-sex or heterosexual partners) will probably tell you that combining the two is a great experience. The addition of drugs often leads to prolonged sex, and it can encourage group sex. PnP provides a break from conventional sex and is often anonymous. Under the influence of certain drugs, ejaculations are more powerful and sensations are greatly increased.
I’m a man (cis or trans) who party and play (and/or uses drugs and alcohol during sexual encounters). I am no longer able to have pleasure without using, what should I do?
Drug use is not necessarily a problem. What can be a problem is the function it fulfills and the circumstances in which it is used. If, no matter how much pleasure you get from using drugs and no matter what the context, you feel that using has taken up too much space in your life, don’t hesitate and KONTAK us. Our peer workers and counsellors will be able to help you!