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Messages highlighting dangers of drug use during sex need to target wider audience

Researchers say the messages should not only focus on gay and bisexual men.

Image: Shutterstock/luckakcul

RESEARCHERS SAY THAT messages about drug use during sex need to target a wider audience as they have found that combining drugs with sex is common regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

The international study, which drew approximately 22,000 responses, found that people from the UK had the highest rate of drug use during sex.

Alcohol, cannabis and cocaine were the most commonly used drugs while GHB/GBL and MDMA were rated most favourably among users.

Respondents to the survey said the highly addictive drugs GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) and GBL (gamma butyrolactone), both commonly known as G, increased ‘sexual desire’ the most while MDMA increased ‘emotionality/intimacy’ the most.

“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. However, differences between groups did emerge,” explained the study’s lead author, Dr Will Lawn.

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.

Country of residence was not specifically asked in the survey so no Irish figures are available. The high rate of drug use in the UK was detected because of the answers to questions about currency.

Gay and bisexual men were found to be the most likely to have drug-linked sex. The study found that, in the past year, gay men were 1.6 times as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to have used drugs with the specific intent of enhancing the sexual experience.

G is most commonly used among gay men. Reports from TheJournal.ie found that about 100 people have been referred to Ireland’s only GHB-detoxification clinic since 2017 and at least 15 people have overdosed from the drug in recent years.

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Ceimin Burke

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