Hans, what things do you think are important when we talk about treatment for “chemsex” problems?
Quite a topic, that deserves way more attention than it gets (in my view). Because the ‘closed-minded’ approach that I often see around me gives (in my opinion) rather violent unwanted results.
If your sexuality is different from that so-called ‘normal’, then there are often extra points of attention regarding… substance use. Be welcome (because yes, I’m kink-aware).
What goes wrong in Chemsex treatments?
In the second article we’ll talk more about the receiving ‘bottom’-side and the intimacy-aspects of chemsex, and in the third we’ll talk more about the addictive part of chems.
First of all, let’s ask whether there is anything that needs to be treated. When you assume that sex comes in many forms and manifestations, and when you assume that drug use is an existing possibility in our society, even though some people think it shouldn’t be like that. it is… then you don’t openly condemn what doesn’t need to be judged. Then you and your customers will look at what they want to tackle and why.
“Who decides what should be treated?”
But if there are indeed problems caused by chemsex (and don’t get me wrong, it happens often enough that this not is the case, and it happens violently enough that this does if so) then it is actually -quite logical- in the approach to chemsex that there are two aspects that deserve attention: sex and chems.
sex as input
In my opinion it is important to think together with people about the question what are possible reasons for sex?
Sounds bland perhaps because you quickly think: “I do that for fun”. But if you look at that more closely, it’s actually not that bad, that ‘simplicity’ because of our shame culture. In fact, it often deserves some extra attention.
That attention to the “why question” that can help prevent some more “sex for the wrong reasons” in the future. Of course I mean non-judgmental or certainly not judgmental. But if, for example, I always had to “sex” with my partner(s) as the only way to experience intimacy, you could say that you always have apparently horny sex in order to experience softer intimate feelings. And that this may be a ‘clunky’ strategy because then you -1- might not get what you’re actually looking for (which keeps you looking in the same place where you can’t find what you’re looking for) and -2- it may be inconvenient because you may also be more likely to be damaged because you say “yes” to people you should -in hindsight- better distance yourself van (typically the story that disappointed people from the scene tell about their enthusiasm with which they initially searched ‘the scene’).
horny ‘friction sex’
Let’s start with the form of sex that is the most taboo: the horny “porn sex”, the friction sex that is experienced as animating as possible, preferably without any inhibition of judgment or opinions.
Of course the sex you experience is unrestrained while your judgmental power of your judging neocortex is switched off. That is not an advertisement but a biological observation. Much of the substance use more or less ‘turns off’ our thinking neocortex and when the inhibition is inhibited, unrestrained sex becomes more easily possible (exactly why some of the “bar-seaters” mainly look at consent as an encouragement to throw in even more booze so someone won’t say “no” again).
An important element in that inhibition is shame.
Shame for your way of sex – which may be different from the national average -, shame also possible for your own homosexuality – something you still have a fair amount of judgment attached to in the Netherlands in 2021.
And, both in the kinky scene and in the gay scene, this is often not necessarily a conscious shame.
In fact, people often feel that they are “beyond their shame” because they have learned to over-shout their shame (with or without drugs or alcohol).
Of course, to “name this as ‘unconscious'” carries with it the risk of the judgmental-therapist-who-knows-everything-better and who believes that he can assume that there is a “resistance” which should therefore be “broken”.
I would like to warn about that! At the latest since the effects of motivational interviewing have been investigated and the limited effect of ‘confrontation’ in addiction treatment has been investigated several times, we as therapists should perhaps be a little more careful in our judgement about what we think we know.
On the other hand, I have also regularly experienced that people dare to take a better look at their own psychological functioning and that under the apparent shamelessness still harbors a lot of shame. Compare: “The Velvet Rage” ( Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man’s World) by Alan Downs. Of course, in today’s shame culture, it’s easy to taunt such a book with the thought that the book itself condemns the “shameless” culture (and I think I recognize elements of that too).
But I prefer to pick out what might be truth in this book and so I like to have a nuanced look at “shame”.
Precisely because shame is so often the reason for not starting the treatment of sexuality or the treatment of dependence, I think this is important!
At the very least, it’s an interesting point to discuss with people who suffer from their chemsex behavior whether ‘shame’ could play a role in the attractiveness of drugs they use to have better -read: more uninhibited- sex, perhaps.
erections and exertion
Regular drug use provides the ‘top’ side, to have the energy to be able to fuck longer and harder and more intensely (just as the effect of the ‘upper’ which makes physical exertion longer possible).
Especially in men over 40 you sometimes see that the fear of being an ‘older’ guy plays a role in wanting to over-shout physical fatigue. Going on longer, staying up later, appearing more youthful: these are all things that turn out to be possible in the short term with the use of the ‘right’ drugs. It is clear that this is often not a ‘good’ long-term strategy.
Should we perhaps rather focus on a healthy lifestyle, fitness training and strength training? Or should we get started with the recognition of the real age? Or should we perhaps not think either-or, but rather work on both levels?
In the next article we’ll talk more about the receiving ‘bottom’-side and the intimacy-aspects of chemsex, and in the third we’ll talk more about the addictive part of chems.
So, let’s talk (online?) 🙂
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