Using drugs

AKA: chems, PnP (pills and poppers, party and play), party favo(u)rs. Also: likes to party = takes drugs, tweaker = user of the drug crystal meth

Most of us use one drug or other: a pint, a cigarette, a shot of strong coffee or Red Bull – or illegal drugs. HardCell has the lowdown on the drugs used most often during sex.

The feeling

Drugs can make us feel sociable, part of the group, excited, confident, sexy and relaxed, and generally change reality into something more interesting or attractive. During sex they can heighten our senses, relax us (helpful for being fucked or fisted) or make us feel hornier.

They can also make us feel pain less, with the chance we notice less if cocks, arses, mouths and so on are hurt or bleeding. And sex can get so closely linked in our mind with drugs that it might get hard to imagine good sex without them.

Taking risks

Apart from getting dependent on them or physically addicted to them, the biggest risk can be how drugs lower our inhibitions, cloud our judgement or even make us unaware of what we’re doing or have done. When we’re under the influence of booze or drugs some of us take sexual risks, including with unprotected sex.

If you’ve fucked without a condom and are worried you’ve put yourself at risk of HIV, you can take a 4-week course of treatment called PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis). It’s not guaranteed to work, but is effective if taken quickly after exposure, preferably within 24 hours, or 72 hours (3 days) at the latest.

If you find yourself taking risks and having unprotected sex when on drugs, think about starting PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). PrEP is a course of anti-HIV drugs that you take before and after sex. If you’re HIV negative, and take PrEP properly, you’ll have almost 100% protection.

Mixing drugs

When drugs are mixed, the effects may increase dramatically or they may produce different and unpredictable reactions.

We often mix drugs without thinking about it – you might have vodka with a Red Bull, or you might do a bump of mephedrone, sniff poppers on the dancefloor, then use Viagra later on in the night.

Even if you think you’re only taking one drug, they can often be cut with other substances, especially powdered drugs or pills.

If you’re taking drugs and HIV medication at the same time, be aware that there can be some dangerous interactions.

Drug cocktails

Taking more than one drug puts extra stress on the body – especially the heart, brain and liver. Sometimes these ‘drug cocktails’ can result in an overdose or death. The crash or comedown can be nastier too.

Taking two drugs that have the same effect increases the risks of a dangerous reaction. For example, two depressants (eg, G taken with alcohol or ketamine) can make you unconscious; two stimulants (eg, cocaine and crystal meth) can put real pressure on your heart or circulation.

But your body also gets stressed if you take drugs that have opposite effects: one drug is telling it to slow down, the other is making it speed up.

Drugs tend to be grouped according to the effect they have on the body. It’s important to understand which category drugs are because when you mix them, taking two of the same kind can be especially risky.

Depressants (‘downers’)

These slow down your body’s functions and make you feel more relaxed. Your heart and breathing will slow down and you might feel very sleepy.

Examples include:

  • alcohol
  • GHB
  • ketamine
  • tranquilisers
  • sleeping pills.

Taking downers together risks overly slowing down body functions such as breathing and brain function to life-threatening levels. You can end up knocked out or dead.

Mixing alcohol and G is a particularly risky combination.

Never mix alcohol with sleeping pills and tranquilisers as this could prove fatal.

Stimulants (‘uppers’)

These speed up your body’s functions. You will feel more alert, your heart will beat faster, your blood pressure will go up, you might feel jumpy, grind your teeth and afterwards you may feel ‘down’.

Some of the most popular uppers are:

  • amphetamines like crystal meth or speed (or drugs that can contain speed – ecstasy tablets often do)
  • mephedrone
  • cocaine
  • caffeine
  • nicotine (in tobacco)

The more stimulants you take, the greater the pressure on your heart and circulation, which puts you at risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Using cocaine and amphetamines together will put your heart under excessive stress.

Mixing uppers with alcohol increases the risk of heart failure.

You should never mix crystal meth, Viagra and poppers in any combination – always take these separately.

Last review: 09/11/2018
Next review: 09/11/2021