By Andrew Goyvaerts
Several weeks ago, I said people need to stop talking about chemsex and start talking about a rise in addiction or drug use. In high insight (the wonderful thing that it is), this was a bad way to summarise my thoughts, first and foremost because it incorrectly sent out a message of rigid thinking on my part.
When I made this comment it was through frustration and even though I was not criticised for saying it, my conscience criticised myself, making me feel a need to address it.
First let me say there is amazing work being undertaking at the moment which highlights chemsex, from theatre to news articles and poetry, so many projects have begun a conversation that challenges thoughts and perceptions, however, my main concern is that in amongst this conversation the core issue, addiction, along with what is being done to advance addiction services throughout the country, seems to be missing. This isn’t to imply that everyone involved with chemsex parties are addicted to Meth or G but there does appear to be an addictive pattern behind the entire concept that could be addressed through addiction, or addiction type, treatment.
As I write, my thoughts go back to when most of the world as well as the media tore apart a well known pro golfer after he entered rehab to be treated for a sex addiction, demonstrating a reluctance in society to accept that it is possible to be addicted to sex. Even though millions of people grasp the concept of addiction and most of us freely admit to having sexual desires, so few are open to the possibility of a connection between the two. If the concept of addiction, its influence on this situation and a need for it to be addressed does not become a bigger part of the dialogue I worry that when the time comes and financial aid is sought to fund awareness campaigns etc., officials will view this as a matter solely for the sexual health sector to deal with through its, already overstretched, resources.
My other concern is that the message of “drugs do harm” does not seem to play a big enough part. We see the necessary message about HIV transmissions being represented or spoke about but how many people have died from an overdose or been left with another medical condition after the consumption of the drug takes a physical toll, why does it not appear to be represented more in the conversation? To the best of my memory, on only one occasion I have seen this side of the concept represented in a performance and have never seen it highlighted in an article. As class a drugs spread, becoming more readily available in rural areas, so most likely will chemsex parties, rural areas where addiction services are virtually non existent and in no way capable of coping with this issue at the current time.
With a population of over 7 billion people, technology bringing us ever closer together and people doing things in different ways or having different opinions, it’s about respecting each others opinion and allowing one another to share their opinion while remembering that it does not have to be a case of one is right and the other wrong. We are all in this together, every voice or opinion should be heard and represented so I guess that’s where my frustration lay, in feeling like every voice or opinion is not being heard at the moment.