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Drugs used to enhance sexual experiences, especially in UK

Tuesday April 2nd, 2019

People in the UK are more likely to combine drugs with sex than those living in other countries, researchers report today.

Th findings prompted experts to call for "harm reduction" work to be increased to deter the use of harmful drugs.

In the largest to date to investigate the relationships between sex and drugs, researchers at UCL, England, reveal that alcohol, cannabis, MDMA and cocaine are the drugs most commonly combined with sex, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

The study, published today (2 April 2019) in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that respondents from the UK were the most likely to combine drugs with sex, compared with the US, other European countries, Australia and Canada.

Lead author Dr Will Lawn from UCL Psychology & Language Sciences said: “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, the researchers found differences between specific groups of people when they analysed the responses as part of the online Global Drug Survey, which about 22,000 people responded to.

They were asked about which drugs they used in combination with sex, as well as if they used drugs to enhance their sexual experience, and how those drugs affected their sexual experience.

The researchers discovered that alcohol, cannabis, MDMA and cocaine were most commonly used, although GHB/GBL was said to increase sexual desire the most, while MDMA was rated the drug that increased emotionality/intimacy the most.

They also found that homosexual men were 1.6 times as likely as heterosexual men to have used drugs with the specific intent of enhancing the sexual experience and that ‘chemsex’ drugs – methamphetamine, mephedrone and GHB/GBL – were more commonly used by gay and bisexual men in combination with sex.

Dr Lawn and his colleagues say that understanding how and why people use drugs is essential if effective harm reduction messages are to be delivered. He also called for harm reduction messages relating to substance-linked sex should be targeted at all groups, not just gay and bisexual men.

“By engaging with your audience and accepting that drugs provide pleasure as well as harms, you can deliver harm reduction messages in a more trustworthy and nuanced manner,” said Dr Lawn.

Senior author Professor Adam Winstock, founder and director of the Global Drug Survey added: “Our study is by far the largest to date to investigate the relationships between sex and drugs. Previous studies have rarely compared men and women, and people of different sexual orientations.

“Furthermore, by appreciating how different drugs affect sex we can tailor our harm reduction messages. These pragmatic messages can save lives.”

Lawn W, Aldridge A, Xia R. et al. Substance-linked sex in heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual men and women: an online, cross-sectional Global Drug Survey. Journal of Sexual Medicine 2 April 2019; doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.02.018.

Tags: Australia | Europe | General Health | North America | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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