Special issue of Drugs and Alcohol Today: ChemSex – Apps, drugs and the right to pleasure

Emerald Publishing Limited, 2019

This special edition of Drugs and Alcohol Today, entitled “Chemsex – Apps, drugs and the right to pleasure”, acknowledges an aspect of drug taking that is often ignored in the discourse on the “scourge” of drug abuse – that drugs enhance pleasure.

Amidst the pleasure brought on by “chems”, there has been pain. Drug overdoses and deaths fuelled by a prohibition that supports an illicit market of unlabelled, often adulterated drugs and fear that calling an ambulance will implicate you in a crime

Chemsex is a unique phenomenon, requiring unique public health responses. The melding of smart phone apps, spatial data and real time “personal adverts requires a significant re-think and re-design when developing public health responses”.

This issue publishes work from experts that help gay communities to mobilise their own responses. It takes the onus off public health policy to respond, and respectfully recognises the agency and resilience within gay communities, to formulate culturally and contextually competent community responses to chemsex.

Free access to this special issue until March 31st

 

 

 

In debates about drug use, fun is important

The Conversation, February 8, 2019 6.07am AEDT

Young (and older) people use drugs and alcohol for fun, enjoyment and socialisation. Understanding the social nature of drug use reveals why fun-seeking is so compelling.

When people describe fun, they are often talking about an experience of social connection and belonging. Fun is not insignificant in human lives.

Understanding this might help to make sense of why “just say no” messages are so often ignored.

Gay men having chemsex are five times more likely to have a new HIV diagnosis than other gay men

aidsmap/nam,  23 May 2018

Gay and bisexual men who reported engaging in chemsex (the use of specific drugs to enhance or facilitate sex) were five times more likely to be newly diagnosed with HIV, nine times more likely to be diagnosed with hepatitis C and four times more likely to be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection during a 13-month follow-up period, according to London data published this week in HIV Medicine.

Lives of Substance (new website)

National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), in collaboration with Healthtalk Australia, Monash University and Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH), 

The Lives of Substance website has two aims. First, it aims to support people who consider themselves to have an alcohol or other drug addiction, dependence or habit, and second, it aims to inform the public by sharing personal stories of these experiences.

The media has long been filled with stories of drug use and addiction, but these stories often rely on stereotypes and offer few clues about the range of people affected by addiction issues, the variety of experiences people have and the many ways they cope and even thrive. Lives of Substance aims to fill in the many gaps in public discussions of addiction, to counter stigmatising misconceptions, and to promote understanding and more effective community responses.

The website is based on a carefully conducted research project that collected detailed life stories of people who consider themselves to have an addiction, dependence or drug habit. These stories were analysed by a team of highly experienced researchers, and key themes were identified. These are presented here using video re-enactments, original audio recordings and written extracts from the interviews.

This website is based on qualitative research conducted in Australia by researchers from Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute (NDRI), in collaboration with Healthtalk Australia, Monash University and the University of New South Wales’ Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH).

Access website here 

Flux study first report: drug use among gay men and bisexual men

Kirby Institute, May 2016

The Flux Study, a study of drug use (and non-use) among gay and bisexual men, has recently released its first annual report.

Flux is a cohort study of 2251 men, including over 1700 who are being followed at 6-monthly intervals. It identifies: risk factors, prevalence, incidence, and associated harms of drug use; the role of gay community norms in individuals’ beliefs about drug use; and implications for HIV/HCV infection.

 

Some early key findings show that:

•             Over three quarters (81.6%) have ever used illicit drugs, with half (50.5%) having done so in the previous six months.

•             The most commonly and frequently used drugs were marijuana and amyl nitrite, but over a quarter (28.8%) had used any party drugs (including amphetamine-type stimulants and cocaine) in the previous six months.

•             Men in the sample tended to express fairly negative opinions about illicit drug use within the gay community, although they tended to be less concerned about their own illicit drug use.

•             The two most common reasons for drug use were to enjoy a sexual encounter (61.8%) and socialising (54.5%).

Flux is a collaboration between the Kirby Institute, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), the Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society (ARCSHS), the Centre for Social Research in Health (CSRH), ACON, and Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre.

 Download report (PDF) here 

Alcohol and other drug treatment services – Key findings in 2014–15

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016

Key findings in 2014–15:

Agencies

  • A total of 843 publicly-funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies provided services to clients seeking treatment and support for alcohol and other drug problems, an increase of 27% over the 5-year period to 2014–15.

Clients

  • Around 115,000 clients received just over 170,000 treatment episodes from alcohol and other drug treatment agencies.
  • 2 in 3 clients were male (67%), just over half were aged 20–39 (54%), and 1 in 7 clients were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (15%).
  • The alcohol and other drug client group is an ageing cohort, with a median age of 33 years in 2014–15, up from 31 in 2005–06. Since 2005–06 there has been a decline in the proportion of 20–29 year olds being treated (from 33% to 27% of treatment episodes), while the proportion of those aged 40 and over rose from 26% to 32%.
  • The proportion of episodes where clients were receiving treatment for amphetamines (20%) has continued to increase over the last 10 years, from 11% of treatment episodes in 2005–06, and 17% in 2013–14.

Treatment

  • There was an increase in the number of closed treatment episodes between 2005–06 and 2014–15, from 151,362 to 170,367—a 13% increase over the 10-year period.
  • In 2014–15, the top 4 principal drugs that led clients to seek treatment were alcohol (38% of treatment episodes), cannabis (24%), amphetamines (20%) and heroin (6%).
  • Treatment for the use of amphetamines increased over the 5 years to 2014–15 (from 9% of closed treatment episodes to 20%).
  • Over the 10 years since 2005–06, treatment types received by clients have not changed substantially, with counselling, assessment only and withdrawal management being the most common types of treatment—this was the same for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous clients.

AOD 2014-2015

Access more here