How to Play Safer on Sex Drugs

Like many gay men, my social life involves a degree of familiarity with illicit substances, which play a significant place in gay nightlife and queer culture.

The experience is universal among my friends: On the dance floor, the guy you’ve been pawing puts his thumb to your ear and shouts, “DO YOU WANT A MOLLY?” You nod, yes.

The night ahead will be mind-blowing or unnerving or both, depending on the roll. Some guys like uppers, some like downers, some like losing control, others prefer to retain it. Despite the extensive history of drug use (and abuse) among LGBTQ folks, some of us never touch mind-altering substances — but most of us will, at least in my experience. And that’s OK — I’m not anti-drug, and anti-drug messages don’t help anyone stay safe. But you should know the risks before trying something new.

I mentioned drugs briefly in my slideshow “17 Tips for Happier, Healthier Bottoming,” which ran in The Advocate last week for my column Sexy Beast. Here’s an excerpt:

Sex drugs are invariably part of our world, so it would be a disservice for me to say “Don’t do drugs” and let that be the end of it. I am not sweepingly anti-drug, although I believe certain substances — heroin, meth — should be avoided. Drugs come with a plethora of risks all on their own. They can lower your ability to fight infection, may diminish the efficacy of your antiretroviral medication, and can obviously cause severe addictions along with a slew of harmful side effects.

If you want more tips on better bottoming, read the full article. Here, I will expound more on sex drugs. After the slideshow ran last week, I received some messages online from readers asking for more info.

Most of my experience with drugs involves large sex parties, dance parties, and extreme sex like fisting. When you’re a beginner, fisting and heavy kink play — everything that may be considered BDSM — should be done sober. Kink and BDSM are about pushing your mental and physical limits and playing with a wide range of sensations and emotions. These sensations are both pleasurable and painful. Drugs can limit — or completely numb — your ability to detect pain, meaning you might push yourself too far and get hurt. Once you comfortably know what you’re doing and are no longer a novice — which may take a few years — then (and only then) is it OK to start adding substances into your kink sessions, and you should start with very small doses.

Never play with a dominant who is drunk or high. Their ability to read your body language and your breathing will be impaired, and they may severely hurt you. In fisting and heavy assplay, a fucked-up top can put you in the hospital — you can become permanently injured and diminish (or eliminate) your ability to play this way in the future. Fisting is amazing, but it’s also an extreme sex sport. Respect it.

fisting

Fisting is one of the most intense experiences you can have with someone. It’s my favorite fetish. Going a little slower and being sober, at least when you’re learning how to get fisted, will not diminish the extraordinary feeling when he gets a hand in your butt. I won’t say drugs make no difference — they’re great fun. Drugs make any sex (even terrible sex) feel amazing. But know the risks. It’s easy to push your body too far, and I know many men — highly skilled and experienced fisters, all of them — who’ve gotten badly hurt because they got too high and went too hard.

The excellent book Fist Me! The Complete Guide To Fisting, by Stephan Niederwieser, is one I recommend for anyone with fisting dreams. For further reading, try Trust: The Hand Book: A Guide to the Sensual and Spiritual Art of Handballing by Bert Herrman. The latter is more spiritual and esoteric, but it’s part of the canon of fisting literature that devotees read.

If you take drugs at a dance club or circuit party, as most everyone there will be doing, have someone there who you can check in with regularly. As with alcohol, never get in a car with a high driver behind the wheel. Uber, Lyft, and other ride-sharing apps are must-haves on your phone.

As far as specific drugs go, steer clear of injecting anything into your body — injection drugs invite Hep C infection, which can result in lifelong, chronic liver disease. And this goes without saying, but anything you inject — meth, heroin — is highly addictive, and it’s much easier to overdose on injection drugs. 

Since the drug of the moment is crystal meth, I have to talk about it more in-depth as someone who’s struggled in my own way with with this evil little substance for years. The long-term effects of crystal are worse than the short-term effects. Over time, the drug will rewire the ways your brain experiences pleasure, including sexual pleasure. This creates a dependency — a need to use meth in order to enjoy sex (and everything else that’s pleasurable, for that matter). Long-term users often find that their only way to stay clean involves total celibacy. The drug is fun, but it’s not worth losing your sex life.

The other popular drug is GHB. Never combine GHB with alcohol — the results can be fatal. This is a well-known fact that astoundingly many guys seem to not know or not heed. In general, it’s unwise to combine drugs. Some guys swear that certain drugs enhance each other, but remember this: you never know how drugs will interact because you never truly know what you’re taking. No drug is “pure.” Street drugs are cut with many different substances, some of which may not interact well with whatever you take. You increase your risk of fatal drug interaction when you combine them.

MDMA (Ecstasy, Molly, E, XTC, X) is an empathogenic stimulant that releases the brain’s natural stores of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters that regulate empathy and arousal. The result? Unbridled horniness, intense feelings of empathy (which can lead to very beautiful, very intimate experiences), and typically some hallucinogenic effects — brighter colors, richer sounds, and a heightened sense of touch.

As I wrote in my slideshow, E/Molly will act as an accelerant (as will most stimulants), meaning that unless you have done a thorough douching and fasted beforehand, the drug will probably make you poop and require you to douche again before anal sex. But many guys don’t consider E a sex drug — it’s a dance floor favorite.

Ecstasy pills

Final bit: Harm reduction saves lives. Since people are going to do drugs no matter what anyone says, we can do away with the myth that telling people the dangers of certain drugs and drug combinations will decrease their usage. But you can take steps to keep yourself — and your friends — safe.

If you see someone who looks like they might have done too much — if they’re dizzy, falling out, incoherent, pale, or look like they might pass out — you need to check in with them and you may need to call 911 or tell someone working the event and tell them this person needs help immediately. People overdose at parties all the time. You can save a life.

It takes no time to check in on someone. And if you don’t like drugs, keep your opinions to yourself, because shaming their usage helps no one. Getting your friends home safely does.

Beastly

 

Above: Photography by fashion and beauty photographer Jamie Nelson.

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