Drugs & Alcohol
All the evidence suggests that many lesbian, gay and bisexual people are using drugs, use is growing and this is evidenced through research such as Part of the Picture and lots of reports in the media.
We want to ensure that people have as much information as they can so that they can make informed choices about whatever they chose to do.
No drug is completely safe and while there is always risk involved, most people have a good time and often feel that the ‘Monday/Tuesday blues’ after a big weekend is bearable. The only way to be sure of not having any bad effects from drugs, legal or illegal, is not to do them, but this information is for those people who are going to use them.
Here’s some advice to help you to keep as safe as you possibly can.
First line, pill, pipe, bump, bomb, dab, slam, sniff or toot
- Take a small amount first (no more than half a pill or a pinch of a powder). You can always take more but you can’t take less.
- Wait for at least an hour before re-dosing – it can take a lot longer for some drugs to take effect (PMA takes around an hour, whereas ecstasy is more like 20 – 30 minutes). Don’t double drop, some pills take a while to come on!
Off your face, on your toes!
- Keep with other people where possible, and let someone else know what you have taken. If it all goes wrong, they need to let the paramedics and first aiders know.
- Keep cool and hydrated. You should be passing urine that is clear and not too dark coloured, the darker it is the more dehydrated you are. Sweating is okay as it helps you stay cool. If you stop sweating and still feel hot let someone know and get them to call an ambulance – Don’t delay.
- If you are doing anything physically strenuous, stop doing it and take a break, whether it is dancing, having sex, or just rushing about – stop, rest, rehydrate, and cool down!
- Keep packaging or ‘left-over’ powders and pills as these can be analysed by medical staff to help you, if necessary. The police will not necessarily be involved by emergency services unless there are other circumstances that involve offending e.g. violent behaviour. Do not try to hide your drug use. If it’s an emergency, the least of your worries should be the discovery of your drug use.
- If you or a friend do need to go to hospital, don’t, under any circumstances try to drive to A&E, or let someone who has also taken drugs or alcohol drive, it’s not worth the risk – call an ambulance.
- Try to space out alcoholic drinks with plenty of water or energy drinks (isotonic). You probably won’t want to eat anything if you’re doing stim(ulant)s, but try to drink a fruit smoothie, it will help reduce stomach acid and put a little ‘fuel back in the tank’.
Good mix, bad mix?
Almost all drugs apart from cannabis are metabolised by the liver, if you are on prescribed medication, in particular anti-retroviral, these will compete with other drugs and result in increased or decreased levels of one or the other.
Sex can be enhanced through drug use but it can just as easily turn bad. Be sure that everyone involved is okay with combining drugs and sex. Coercion sometimes happens when someone is so ‘chemed-up’ that they lose sight of the other(s) involved. Risk taking goes up and the need to go on for longer, and get more extreme can become an ever spiralling situation.
Delaying the climax, keeping hard and keeping going fuel the need for more stims, poppers, Viagra but remember, you are only human even if you feel like a sex machine!
Drugs can interfere with sexual pleasure, causing a lack of natural lubrication in the vagina so it’s more likely to be damaged or open to infection.
Both drugs and alcohol can cloud your judgement, meaning you might have rougher sex without protection, you might have sex with people you don’t want to, and you might be having sex you are not consenting to.
Drug related deaths are not commonplace, but when they do happen, it is very often as a result of combining drugs and alcohol or other substances which have a ‘synergistic’ effect – they combine to make a more toxic substance in the body.
However, it is clear that most people will ‘polydrug use’ (use more than one substance at the same time) and many will have no problems but some will sadly add to the drug related deaths statistics.
Slamming, digging, shooting up!
Injecting drugs brings extra risks and potential harms. HIV, infective hepatitis (A,B, and C), skin infections, higher rates of overdose, greater social stigma which can push you further away from non-drug users and narrow your social support.
If you are going to inject, visit your local needle exchange service or pharmacy providing needle exchange. Ask about vaccinations you can get e.g. hep B and tetanus, and what are the correct types of equipment for injecting the drug you are using (steroids and stimulants require some different injecting approaches).
Some people like to take their drugs up their arse to avoid injecting and when they do this, they get a quick ‘rush’.
The problem is that the quick ‘rush’ is as a result of having such a great blood supply there and thin membranes to absorb the drug which in turn can be damaged very quickly from chemicals used to make the drug.
Think about how harsh these drugs can be to snort with pain and bleeding quite common after a night on the stuff, do you really want that happening to your arse.
If you or a friend are taken ill
Don’t wait. Get medical help as soon as possible. Call an ambulance.
Tell medical staff what you or your friend have taken, and if possible keep packaging or ‘left-over’ powders and pills so medical staff can assist you or your friend quicker and more effectively. Medical staff’s priority is to get you safe and well.
We don’t want to tell you how to live your life. We don’t want to say ‘just say no!’ we want to say ‘just say know!’. Have fun, keep safe and look out for each other.
Need support around drug and alcohol use or chemsex? Are things getting too much or out of control?
LGBT Foundation, part of Manchester Integrated Drug and Alcohol Service (MIDAS), are here to help by offering specialised advice and support to LGBT people in Manchester around drugs and alcohol use. You can drop in to have an informal chat, or give us a call.
We’re here if you need us.
firstname.lastname@example.org | lgbt.foundation | 0345 3 30 30 30
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