Ice, or crystal methamphetamine, is a powerful stimulant that floods the brain with large amounts of dopamine. Another powerful dopamine rush is that of sexual intercourse. When the two are combined, it can lead to a range of compounded risks that stem from unsafe practices and lowered inhibitions.
Consuming ice and having sex, known in some subcultures as chemsex, is a popular activity for both casual and long term users of the substance. However, like many facets of ice addiction, the risks of the activity can outweigh the pleasure derived from it.
If you or someone you love is addicted to ice, there is treatment available. Contact The Hader Clinic for a Free 60-Minute Consultation, and free yourself from the harmful effects of methamphetamine.
The appeal of chemsex
Chemsex is appealing because the presence of ice triggers an increase in a range of emotions and feelings common in sex, including:
- Desire for other people
- Confidence in oneself
- Pleasure derived from sex
The intensity of ice and sex is difficult to ignore. Once a person experiences it, a common result is a conflation of the pleasures of sex and ice together as one positive experience. This turns into a cycle — where a user cannot have sex without ice, and cannot consume ice without having sex.
This isn't to say that ice and an increase in sexual activity go hand in hand for everyone. Many ice users experience little to no increase in sexual drive, while for others, the drug becomes a gateway to unbridled sexual activity and risky behaviour.
The physical side effects of ice on sexual health
Aside from the chemical imbalances and other physical side effects of ice consumption, chemsex has its own specific set of risks. Ongoing sexual activity over a number of days is a common event for those that partake in chemsex, and can lead to:
- Injured, damaged, or overstimulated genitals
- Physical injuries, including bruises, sprains, and fractures
- Unnoticed physical injuries, like internal bleeding
- Dehydration and chronic exhaustion
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Concussion and loss of consciousness
Another extreme physical risk of ice and sex is sexual assault and rape. Ice is often combined with drugs like alcohol and GHB, which can lead to blackouts. Loss on consciousness can leave users in vulnerable states, to be taken advantage of by others.
Sexually transmitted infections
Chemsex comes with a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections. Lowered inhibitions can cause people to abandon their normal safeguards. The prevalence of both intravenous ice use, and chemsex in the gay community, has led to an increase in HIV and related complications around Australia.
The psychological side effects of ice on sex
A range of psychological side effects can manifest following the use of ice in sexual intercourse. These can include:
- Lack of clarity around the truth of events
- Hallucinations, paranoia, and psychosis
- Shame, guilt, and embarrassment
- Suicidal ideation during the comedown phase
Furthermore, the demonisation of methamphetamine and sex in media and government messaging can prevent people from seeking help. The stigma surrounding the combination has many negative consequences — especially the delay in treatment for ongoing physical, social, emotional, and psychological effects of substance abuse.
The combination of ice and sex often affords users a kind of adventurousness that they do not normally possess. Inhibitions usually prevent us from engaging in behaviour that we have deemed to be risky, whether to our physical health, mental state, or social standing. When these are stripped away, anything goes.
As one of society's most powerful disinhibitors, methamphetamine is an avenue towards risky behaviour. The presence of sex inflames this risk. Common risky behaviours associated with chemsex include:
- Sharing of needles and other paraphernalia
- Group sex and unprotected sex with parties unknown to the user
- Dangerous sexual acts, like asphyxiation, edgeplay, and other facets of BDSM
In essence, disinhibition leads to deregulation. When there are no safeguards, we open ourselves to greater experimentation in the pursuit of pleasure. Without experience, support, or sometimes, consent, these risky behaviours can lead to tragedy.
Practising safer chemsex
Drugs are a part of life. Their presence influences the sex lives of people all over the world. Fortunately, there are some steps users can take to reduce the harm:
- Ensure that all sexual activities begin with consent
- Designate safewords for partners to use
- Always use protection like condoms and lubrication
- Never share needles
- Take PrEP to lower the risk of HIV
- Ensure that yourself and your partners are regularly tested for STIs
In the end, the safest way to avoid risk is to avoid consuming ice altogether. It is incredibly addictive by nature, and can lead to physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual damage. The pleasure of chemsex is not worth the propensity for lifelong addiction.