In a world of apps and instant hook-ups it can be really easy for drugs, alcohol or sex to get out of control.
It might suddenly feel like you’ve gone from experimenting, or an occasional bit of fun, to something which you now feel is taking over your sex and social life – and you’re not quite sure how it happened.
Making changes can be difficult, especially when it comes to drugs. Whether you want to cut back a bit, be safer or quit entirely, getting some help can really make a big difference. Friends and family can be a great source of support and there are services and resources which can help too.
There are lots of services which can help, but they might not be focused specifically on chemsex and they can vary from area to area in the UK. The guide below gives you some general ideas of services which can help, and we also have listings by region of LGBT and HIV charities for gay and bi men in England, Scotland and Wales.
Terrence Higgins Trust services
THT London counselling offers its Connect service costing from £30 a session. This offers long term psychotherapy for all gay and bisexual men, for both individuals and couples. The benefits of this over short term counselling is that it offers weekly support, a consistent relationship with a trained professional, and a timeframe that can address the causes of problematic drug behaviour.
Connect also provides Addiction groups and Mindfulness groups. Both these groups can be really useful as part of a structured programme of help. We can also signpost you to other drug organisations to help you access more information and support.
For Connect services contact 020 7812 1777 or email email@example.com.
If you're HIV positive you can access online counselling.
If you live in certain areas in the UK, including particular boroughs in London, you can receive up to 12 sessions of free face-to-face counselling. If you live in London contact 020 7812 1777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for free counselling. For the rest of the UK contact THT direct on 080 8802 1221.
If you're involved in sex work or escorting, support can be found through the SWISH project who work with different drug agencies and who can arrange a keyworker to assess a multitude of issues. Contact SWISH on 020 7812 1809.
While you may not feel like your GP has the specialist knowledge to help you, they should be able to find someone who can. This might be a local drug service, free counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). They can also help with issues such as depression or anxiety which you may be experiencing too.
Your GP can sign you off work as well if necessary.
LGBT or HIV charities
Any charity which works with gay men should be able to help with chemsex issues or point you in the direction of local services. Check your area below for listings:
Club Drug Clinic
Specialising in drugs such as GBL, mephedrone, ketamine, MDMA and crystal meth, the Club Drug Clinic is available to people living in the London boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham and Westminster.
Antidote offers support around drugs and alcohol to LGBT people across London.
Local LGBT counsellors who specialise in drugs or LGBT issues can help. Try doing a Google search for ‘[your area] gay men’s drug counselling’.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
Narcotics Anonymous is the largest peer support group in the world and has helped thousands of people to make long-term changes to quit drugs. Check out their website to find your nearest group.
GUM/sexual health clinics
Some sexual health clinics (especially in big cities) now have excellent integrated drug support services, tailored specifically towards gay men. In London, 56 Dean Street, Mortimer Market, and Burrell Street all have great services.
While many drug services weren’t set up to support the issues gay men may have around sex and drugs, many are now gearing up to provide specific gay men’s services.
Antidote offers support to people across London.
If you are outside of the capital you can find your local service through NHS Choices.
CRI provide services for people who need help around their drug use across the UK.
There might not be many services in your area, or you might not feel ready to talk to someone yet, so why not check out these resources? They might give you some useful insights or exercises which can help you to make some changes:
Sex addiction/sexual compulsion
For many gay men, sexual compulsion and drugs go hand-in-hand. Breaking the habit with drugs may also be about breaking the habit of looking for hook-ups. Cruise Control by Robert Weiss is a great book which talks you through why sex may have become a problem, and how you can make some changes.
One of the main reasons why drugs and sex might cause problems is when we use them to cover up other problems. Mindfulness is a really simple technique which you can teach yourself. It helps you to reduce stress and worrying and be in more control of your emotions. There are lots of simple guides available and there are some online courses - you often have to pay for these but it's worth finding out what is available in your area.
- Sex Addicts Anonymous holds meetings across the UK, similar to Narcotics Anonymous, and could also be a useful place to check out.
- Call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221 to find out which services are available in your area.
Next review: 24/07/2018