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Safer chemsex

Finding the right chemsex support

CHEMSEX SUPPORTGay men needing chemsex support require specialist help and advice. Unfortunately, these services are not universally available and things can be worse outside the big cities.

When guys ‘crash’ or are in crisis, they often require multiple services (eg: recovery, mental health, legal, housing, debt) and mainstream services are not always geared up to work together—though some are trying to improve.

Truth is, issues like this affect many LGBT+ people accessing health services generally at a time when there is less funding and more cuts than ever before. In larger towns and cities, some sexual health services, drug and LGBT+ mental health, local authority services are working together to provide tailored and integrated support.

Drug services, particularly, are waking up to the fact they’ve ‘neglected’ the LGBT+ community for decades and many only seem to have a passing understanding of gay men’s health and wider LGBT+ issues. However, some are starting to respond positively, becoming LGBT+ friendlier, developing expertise—something long overdue.

Some of us prefer gay or gay-friendly services which, as a rule, are much better understanding the issues affecting our lives, and the context. Others are happy to access mainstream services.

Most health services aim to be welcoming, respectful, knowledgeable, and understanding. The thing is to find a service that’s right for you and that “gets the job done.”

Ask questions
Consider you or a friend phoning a service first to check if the ‘vibe’ feels right. Some of these questions may seem a little direct (kind-of the point) and you may have some of your own:

  • “Do you have a drug, alcohol and/ or chemsex service specifically for gay/ bi men?”
  • “Have your frontline staff had training on chemsex, gay men’s health, and wider LGBT+ issues?”
  • “How do existing clients respond to LGBT+ people?”
  • “Would you say your service is LGBT+ friendly?”
  • Check out the service’s website; are ‘chemsex’, ‘LGBT’, ‘gay’, 'MSM' and/ or GBMSM included anywhere?
    MSM: men who have sex with men. GBMSM: gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men.

Your GP
It's understandable why you might feel your GP won’t have the knowledge and expertise they need, but they should be able to be supportive and/ or signpost you to someone who can. This might include a drugs or counselling service though these are unlikely to be gay-specific. GPs are also the 'gateway' to local health services you so developing a relationship with your GP is potentially very helpful.

HIV and LGBT+ organisations
If you don’t know where to start, contacting a local HIV or LGBT+ organisation can be a good place to start. While they may not be able to help you directly, they usually know what’s going on in the area and can signpost accordingly.

Can you talk with a friend you trust?
Perhaps the first step in getting help may be talking to someone you trust, a friend, a sex bud … even the ex. Some of the best support can still be found within our own community.

Drugs, alcohol and chemsex support services | MEN R US

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