British more likely to engage in chemsex, study finds

People in the UK are more likely to use drugs to enhance sex, compared to other countries.

The Global Drug Survey, which polled more than 22,000 people, found combining drugs with sex – otherwise known as Chemsex – is common regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

The research, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, found people from the UK were the most likely to combine drugs with sex, compared with the US, other European countries, Australia and Canada.

It also revealed that alcohol, cannabis, MDMA and cocaine are the drugs most commonly combined with sex.

The study’s lead author, Dr Will Lawn of the UCL Psychology & Language Sciences department, said: “While using drugs in combination with and to specifically enhance the sexual experience tends to be associated with gay and bisexual men, we found that in our sample, men and women of all sexual orientations engaged in this behaviour.

He added: “However, differences between groups did emerge. Harm reduction messages relating to substance-linked sex in general should therefore not only be targeted towards gay and bisexual men, as they are relevant to all groups.”


The researchers said the results show the need for certain targeted harm reduction messages

Those who took part in the research responded to online questions about which drugs they used in combination with sex, in addition to questions about whether they used drugs to specifically enhance their sexual experience, and how these drugs affect the sexual experience.

While people of all genders and sexual orientations reported engaging in chemsex, gay and bisexual men were more likely to have done so.

Gay men were 1.6 times as likely as heterosexual men to have used drugs with the specific intent of enhancing the sexual experience in the last year.

The researchers said the results show the need for certain targeted harm reduction messages.

“By engaging with your audience and accepting that drugs provide pleasure as well as harms, you can deliver harm reduction messages in a more trustworthy and nuanced manner,” Dr Lawn said.