Yrichen undertakes a study to gauge the impact of 'chemsex'

Still from the documentary film 'Chemsex' that explores long group sex sessions under the influence of drugs. / C7

According to the European EMIS survey, 7.3% of men who have sex with men in the Canary Islands took drugs to prolong sex

Carmen Delia Aranda

Yrichen Foundation has commissioned a study to find out the impact on Gran Canaria of the practice of '
chem-sex', the intentional use of drugs to have sexual relations for a long period of time that can last several hours or days.

This practice, minority in men who have sex with men, is growing and generating a
problematic substance usewhile increasing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and affecting mental health.

most recent study on the prevalence of chemsex in Spain, Homosalud 2021, reveals that 9.4% of men who have sex with men have taken part in these sex parties.

In the case of
Canary Islands, the only data in this regard is contained in the report of the European survey EMIS 2017, which estimated at 7.3% the people of this group who had practiced 'chemsex' in the four weeks prior to the survey. In fact, the report placed the archipelago as the
fourth Spanish community with the highest prevalence of this practice, after the Balearic Islands (where 12.4% of men who have sex with men use stimulant drugs to prolong sex for hours or days), Catalonia (10.6%) and Madrid (8.8%), as stated in the technical document on addressing the chemsex phenomenon, released in 2020 by the Ministry of Health.

«The realization of this diagnosis does not seek at all to stigmatize the homosexual group. Among heterosexuals, drugs are also used for sexual purposes, as in the case of chemical submission", points out the director of Yrichen, Juan José Pérez, who emphasizes that the purpose of this study is
know the magnitude of the phenomenon to alert the group of its risks and prevent its damage. «We want to have a document that synthesizes the existing bibliography and sheds light on how to address its
preventive treatment, without stigmatizing or hiding it». Perez points out.

Chemsex, he says, is a new and complex phenomenon, and it is difficult to serve those who come to the foundation for help. "We have to learn how it works to serve them in the best possible way and prevent it," she acknowledges. However, they are the
health centers and hospital emergencies of the capital and the south of Gran Canaria where this problem is most detected.

These sex sessions entail
two risks important; the possibility of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and the risks generated by hard psychoactive substances, which, in some cases, are administered intravenously.

Along with cocaine, poppers, viagra and alcohol, other drugs such as mephedrone, methamphetamine and GHB/GBL take part in these parties, with a high
addictive potential. "They are substances less known than the usual ones, dangerous for the body due to the possibility of suffering intoxication," says Pérez about depressant substances of the central system that cause fainting. "People don't know how to care for these people. In an environment with no lights and people having sex, the chances of getting help are very limited,” he says.

In any case, only a small part of those who use this route to seek pleasure have problems. “There are people who have a
controlled consumption, with one or two sessions a month and they have no more problems. At the other extreme are those who suffer from psychotic disorders and end up losing their jobs, friendships, with a
absolute addiction and dependencywithout being able to have sex without drugs, "explains Pep Coll, medical director of BCN Checkpoint, who understands that the homosexual community must be well aware of the risks to prevent damage.

In 2021, Yrichen treated ten people with problems linked to chemsex, explains Alejandro Rivero, a psychologist at the Maspalomas Addiction Care Unit, the nerve center, along with the capital, of this type of party. "We are not the gateway for these people," says the psychologist who recognizes that organizations such as Gama, Checkpoint or Stopsida are better prepared to deal with these realities. “We would like to network with the community associations that are always ahead of the curve,” he says.

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