Chemsex is a specific form of recreational drug use and involves using one or more of three drugs, in any combination, to facilitate or enhance sex, with or without other drugs.

The three common drugs used are:

In Ireland, other drugs are also used such as cocaine and dissociative drugs such as ketamine.

Chemsex commonly refers to sex that can sometimes last for several days where there is little need for sleep or food. The heightened sexual focus enables more extreme sex, for longer, often with more partners.

Men may engage in Chemsex for many reasons, some include:

  • To feel more sexually free
  • To overcome fear of rejection / shame / stigma
  • Wanting ‘better’ sex, that lasts longer
  • Seeking intimacy
  • To connect with others
  • To feel part of a group or community

Chemsex is associated with extreme disinhibition. Some people use Chemsex to do things they might otherwise not usually do. Safer sex can be less important to those under the influence and therefore the chances of transmission of HIV and STIs are greatly enhanced.

As with the use of other recreational drugs, engaging in Chemsex can affect our choices and our judgement. Some people may feel unable to consent to sex when highly intoxicated. Be aware of your limits and your right to say no to sex or sexual acts that you don’t feel comfortable with. A good way of achieving this is by setting boundaries before engaging in Chemsex.

Plan in advance – carry condoms and lube and do not share injecting equipment.

Drug interactions can be serious and difficult to predict, for example between alcohol and GHB/GBL. Side effects from the drugs used for Chemsex can be more severe than other commonly used recreational drugs.

Short and long term side effects can include:

  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Chronic depression
  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Going-under / unconsciousness
  • Coma / death

Reduce the Risk

  • Get screened for STIs regularly including HIV and hepatitis C
  • Don’t let someone else inject drugs for you.
  • Play with someone you trust if possible, as your judgement can be dramatically impaired on chems.
  • Establish a set of boundaries while sober about what you are not prepared to do sexually that you can refer to later when high.
  • Don’t play for too long – paranoia and hallucinations can be common on your second day awake.
  • Do not share needles, or other injecting equipment. Clean needles can be obtained from your local needle exchange. Check out our safer injecting practices page and please speak to a health advisor at your local sexual health clinic as chemsex puts you at higher risk of infections.
  • If you’re HIV negative, and concerned about any HIV risks during a chemsex episode, check out our information about PEP, a medicine which can help protect you from becoming positive if taken within 72 hours of the possible exposure.
  • If you’re looking to spend your evenings/weekends/spare time differently, reach out to some of the support helplines and/or counselling services listed on our website. There are a number of alternative sporting, social and recreational activities, specifically for gay men which may help you break habits of chemsex use.
  • Don’t play too regularly if you want to avoid depression, weight loss and psychological dependence. Change up your sex life with some sober sex, some dating and plenty of non-sexual recreation and intimacy.
  • One of the best resources we have to keep ourselves, our friends, and those we play with safe at sex parties – is each other. To find out more visit MPOWER‘s new Chemsex resource: Sex Party First Aid Guide.

PozVibe Podcast Chem Sessions

A fantastic new resource is the PozVibe Podcast Chem Sessions – Candid conversations about chemsex in the queer community.

The new Pozvibe series from activists Robbie Lawlor and Veda shines a much-needed light on Chemsex with a refreshingly open and exploratory approach. Robbie and Veda ask the important questions.

The show offers support through storytelling and interviews, empowering the listener with knowledge, not judgment. This series is open, honest, educational and essential listening for anyone who wants the unvarnished truth about sex and drugs.

Are you slamming / injecting drugs?

If you are injecting or ‘slamming’ your drugs, it is important to know how to do it in the safest possible way. Merchants Quay Ireland have created a booklet on safer injecting practices which you can download here. It includes information on safer injecting practices and types of injecting. Advice on how to find a vein and the equipment that should be used. Recommendations on how to best care for your veins, avoiding vein damage and when you may need to seek help.

Support & Services

If you are worried about your relationship with Chemsex, it is important to reach out. There are a number of non-judgemental friendly services who can help.

The Switchboard Ireland
Outhouse, 105 Capel St, Dublin 1.
The Switchboard Ireland is Ireland’s longest running support service for the LGBT+ community. LGBT+ volunteers are available 7 days a week on phone, email and online chat to offer confidential listening, support and information. Thursdays: Substance Abuse, Chems, Narcotics, Alcohol 6:30pm – 9pm.

Phone 01 872 1055
Contact: WhatsApp @ 089 26 74 777
Email: for support & signpost by email for other questions

The MPOWER team of peer sexual health outreach workers offer information, support and resources relating to HIV, STIs and other sexual health & wellbeing needs. The team is available to speak to you by phone, email, WhatsApp, and Zoom. Visit MPOWER‘s new Chemsex resource: Sex Party First Aid Guide.

Phone 01-8733799 and ask for the MPOWER Team (Mon-Fri 10am – 5pm)
Whatsapp on 086 065 7212 (Davy), 0866002996 (Mark), 0892291869 (Diego)

Sexual Health Centre Cork
Sexual Health Centre Cork offer the services of a dedicated Sexual Health Advisor to members of LGBTQIA+ community. Aaron O’Sullivan provides sexual health advice and support in an understanding and warm environment, on a wide range of matters such as healthy relationships, sexuality, sexual dysfunction, gender and sexual identity.

You can make an appointment by sending an email to, calling the Sexual Health Centre on 021 427 5837 or contacting Aaron directly at

Visit the National Directory of Drugs and Alcohol Services and find a local service to help you

Drugs helpline: Freefone 1800 459 459