November 13, 2019 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

New Chemsex Research Shows Surprising Trend

In the midst of a national opioid crisis, are gay men partying cleaner?

While this might seem like the conclusion of a new study by two Manchester Metropolitan University criminology employees, Drs. Rob Ralphs and Paul Gray, the actual data points to a less optimistic outcome.

Gray and Ralphs’ study, taking place over a period of six months, involved interviews with over 50 drug users and 30 staff members at Mancunian clinics and treatment centers.

What its findings showed was an overwhelming preference among gay males for trendier chemsex drugs and synthetic cannabinoids, such as the drug “spice,” resulting in a significant dip in crack, heroin, and ecstasy usage.

Although gay men are going for a more complicated high through the pursuit of drugs associated with luxury and expense, this doesn’t translate to a reduction in terms of dangerous drug use. Crystal meth is still popular via injection, or “slamming,” as well as other “party” drugs offering hallucinogenic or psychedelic effects. What Ralphs and Gray’s study shows is that these men are using their preference for luxury drugs as a reason to stay away from traditional clinics and treatment centers due to stigma and preconceived notions about treatment courses.

“Despite complex and often interrelated needs, it was apparent that users of Spice and chemsex substances had a lack of knowledge of existing service provision and, perhaps most concerning, outdated views and perceptions of who treatment services are targeted at and what services could offer,” Dr. Ralphs stated.

The study is interesting in light of West Hollywood’s own decision to legalize recreational marijuana use, potentially leading denizens of the city’s overwhelmingly gay male population to seek out legal highs in favor of synthetic ones. Amidst the criticism surrounding West Hollywood’s new “party city” reputation, there’s a streak of concern for how its gay male citizens will cope with newer, more experimental drugs like “Spice” coming on the scene. Although the idea of marijuana as a gateway drug is outdated and widely disproven, the sense of a city without limits could create new interactions between West Hollywood’s LGBTQ+ community and the chemsex drug wave. New research on why gay men pursue chemsex drugs was recently published in the academic journal “Cultural Studies,” pointing overwhelmingly to a sense of loneliness and isolation among the study’s London-based participants.

“I was feeling really lonely. I was looking for company. I was really depressed living in London…you don’t have friends, you don’t have family,” said one of the interviewees. “You’re living in a big city…you have the weekend to yourself and you don’t know what to do.”

Another participant in the study noted: “In a way, you’re enjoying a private club…everyone thinks the same as you think. You don’t have to worry about anything because you’re going to be in an environment where you feel safe and whatever you do, whatever you think, whatever you say you’ll be very much accepted.”

Drs. Ralphs and Gray’s study points, more than anything else, to a division of class and wealth when it comes to chemsex use in the gay community. The danger, as they see it, is in gay men foregoing free treatment or neglecting to seek help due to not wishing to be seen in the same light as the traditionally poorer populations of heroin and crack addicts are. While neither loneliness nor drug use will be going away anytime soon in the gay community, both new studies point to a trend that might benefit from a closer look in a local context.

Tags: , , in NEWS
Related Posts

Documentary Honors Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ Vets for Veterans Day

November 11, 2019

November 11, 2019

In honor of Veterans Day, some LGBT Senior Veterans at the Los Angeles LGBT Center shared their stories and experiences...

Fighting Ignorance, Poverty with Job Fair for Trans, Intersex Folks

November 7, 2019

November 7, 2019

“Thriving in Los Angeles as a person of trans, non-binary, or intersex experience is challenging,” Eden Anaï Luna, Manager of...

LA Pride’s Bid to Host 2025 World Pride

November 5, 2019

November 5, 2019

Today, Christopher Street West (CSW), the non-profit that produces LA Pride, announced an official bid to host WorldPride in Los...

Trump Administration Attacks LGBTQ People Yet Again with HHS Proposed Rule

November 4, 2019

November 4, 2019

To kick off Trans Awareness Month, the Trump Administration has outdone itself in trampling over LGBTQ+ folks’ rights. Today, the...

LGBTQ+ Senior Housing in Gay Paradise

October 19, 2019

October 19, 2019

More than 39 million people in the U.S. are age 65 years or older including 2.4 million people who identify...

UPDATE: Ed Buck’s Court Hearing Set for Next Month

October 16, 2019

October 16, 2019

Political activist Ed Buck, who pleaded not guilty last week to federal drug charges in connection with two overdose deaths...

Edify TV: Westside Measles Exposure

October 15, 2019

October 15, 2019

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has announced that a person with measles visited several Westside businesses this...

PrEP Now Available Without Prescription in CA

October 14, 2019

October 14, 2019

Access to HIV prevention medications got a little easier. Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that would allow...

Everything You Need to Know About Tonight’s LGBTQ Town Hall w/ Democratic Presidential Candidates

October 10, 2019

October 10, 2019

It’s showtime, folks! Tonight is the LGBTQ Town Hall featuring Democratic presidential candidates answering all things queer. Human Rights Campaign...

California FAIR Plan For Fire Insurance Sees Massive Rate Increases

October 8, 2019

October 8, 2019

By Karl D. Susman The California FAIR Plan Association was created in July 1968 following a series of brush fires...

Ed Buck Arrested After Third Alleged Meth OD Victim Survives, Calls 911

September 18, 2019

September 18, 2019

LGBTQ political activist and prominent donor to the Democratic Party Ed Buck was arrested Tuesday, September 17 after a third alleged victim...

LGBTQ Youth Encouraged to Create Video Shorts for The Trevor Project

September 12, 2019

September 12, 2019

OUR PRIDE Video Fest announced a Call for Entries for videos about metal health, suicide prevention Calling all LGBTQ+ youth...

Lights. Camera. Representation!

September 9, 2019

September 9, 2019

The 26th annual QFilms Fest highlights the importance of showcasing an array of LGBTQ+ experiences through film.  By Jorge Paniagua...

Long Beach Welcomes 26th Annual QFilm Festival

September 4, 2019

September 4, 2019

This year, the festival dedicating short film program to LGBTQ+ Asian and Asian American experience. Long Beach’s historic Art Theatre...

LGBTQ+ Youth Cookin’ Up a Future

August 30, 2019

August 30, 2019

Cedars-Sinai awarded the Los Angeles LGBT Center a $159,973 grant for LGBTQ+ youth enrolled in a new intergenerational Culinary Arts program...