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    Gay men's Chemsex survival stories

    Smith, V. and Tasker, Fiona (2017) Gay men's Chemsex survival stories. Sexual Health 15 (2), pp. 116-122. ISSN 1931-7611 (print) 1931-762X (web).

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    Abstract

    Background: Chemsex (the combined use of drugs and sexual experiences) by MSM is associated with the transmission of STIs and BBVs, but psychosocial factors associated with chemsex engagement and remission remain unidentified. We considered: how do gay men self-identify a chemsex problem and remain chemsex free? Methods: Using a life course perspective this qualitative interview study examined participants’ reflections to discern pathways in and out of chemsex engagement. Six participants (aged 18 years and over) were drawn from a cohort of men who had completed the tailored therapeutic Structured Weekend Antidote Programme (SWAP), run by London based LGBT non-governmental organization London Friend. Transcripts were analysed using a Labovian narrative analysis framework. Results: Each man identified a multiplicity of incidents and feelings that contributed to their engagement in chemsex, and engagement in chemsex was connected to participants’ identity development and desire to belong to a gay community. Underlying individual accounts a common narrative suggested a process through which chemsex journeys were perceived as spiralling from exciting and self-exploratory incidents into an out of control high-risk activity that was isolating and prompted engagement with therapy. Despite seeking therapeutic engagement, participants’ expressed uncertainty about maintaining a gay future without chemsex. Conclusions: Findings indicated that chemsex was associated with a positive gay identity gain, which explained the ambivalence participants’ expressed in maintaining a gay future without chemsex despite their awareness of negative consequences. This is significant both for understanding why chemsex pathways may prove attractive, but also why they may be so difficult to leave. Funding: None KEY MESSAGES: • Participants’ identified multiple incidents and feelings as contributing to chemsex engagement • Chemsex engagement was connected to participants’ gay identity development • Chemsex journeys were perceived to spiral from exciting and exploratory into high-risk activity • Association of chemsex with a gay identity gain explained ambivalence to remaining chemsex free

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Research Centre: Children, Families and Social Issues, Institute for the Study of
    Depositing User: Fiona Tasker
    Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2018 09:34
    Last Modified: 30 Jul 2018 09:43
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/21463

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