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The results suggest that cannabis may be used as a safer alternative to substances typically associated with chemsex, including crystal meth

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Natasha Parent and Rod Knight • • The conversation

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August 31, 2020 • • January 27, 2021 • • Read for 4 minutes Romantic time in the water Research has begun to uncover some of the beneficial effects of cannabis use. Studies have shown that cannabis is effective for treating pain and is helpful in reducing symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Photo by Getty Images

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Not everyone is a fan of rock ‘n’ roll, but for many people sex and drugs are a great combination. Pairing the two can result in a very enjoyable experience, with heightened physical and psychological effects, including increased feelings of intimacy, confidence, and pleasure.

Unfortunately, some combinations of sex and drugs do significant harm. For example, alone or in combination with other substances, the sexualized use of crystal methamphetamine (meth) by gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, in a practice often called “chemsex” or “party ‘n’ play “Has been identified as the main drivers of HIV infection, depression, anxiety and suicide. For many men with sexual and gender minority groups, attending chemsex is motivated by a desire to maximize pleasure, decrease inhibitions, and decrease feelings of fear and shame.

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Unfortunately, we don’t currently have effective strategies to reduce the risks associated with sexualized use of drugs like meth. However, in a study by our research team at the British Columbia Center on Substance Use (BCCSU), we found compelling evidence that cannabis can play a role in combating this damage.

Cannabis and sex

In our study, we found that cannabis use during sexual intercourse is a strategic resource for a group of young cisgender, transgender, gay, bisexual, and minority sexual males aged 15-30 in Vancouver. Study participants reported that they used cannabis to achieve certain physical and psychological effects, including maximizing pleasure and socializing with sexual partners, and reducing anxiety and inhibitions.

Our results suggest that cannabis may be used as a safer alternative to substances typically associated with chemsex, including crystal meth.

Research has begun to uncover some of the beneficial effects of cannabis use. Studies have shown that cannabis is effective for treating pain and is helpful in reducing symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Our study suggests that some of these effects can also be transferred to sexualized situations: the young men with sexual and gender-specific minorities surveyed for this study reported that they use cannabis to increase pleasant physical sensations and to increase the pain during receptive anal sex as well as lessening inhibitions and dealing with feelings of anxiety about sexual encounters.

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In our study, we found that cannabis use can give men access to a deeper sense of sexual freedom and intimacy in a context where same-sex sex has historically been stigmatized. In other words, sexualized cannabis use can help men with sexual and gender minorities overcome feelings of fear and shame that result from internalized homophobia, biphobia, and / or transphobia so that they can better enjoy the sex they want.

In addition to the high levels of stress men with sexual and gender minority groups experience due to their identity, we also found that the widespread use of sexual contact apps (such as Grindr and SCRUFF) led to heightened feelings of anxiety about sexual encounters in this group has contributed.

In particular, some men describe worrying about their physical appearance and express concerns about meeting new sex partners for the first time. For example, one participant said:

“Dating apps can destroy your self-esteem as we all look better in photos than we do in real life. So there is a lot of fear of actually meeting the person (in real life) and you know expectations. ”

For these men, cannabis use can help alleviate some of their concerns about sexual encounters by lowering inhibitions and helping them establish intimacy and connection.

The current context of COVID-19

This idea of ​​creating intimacy and connection can be especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, when physical distancing guidelines encourage people to stay home and avoid unnecessary trips. Worldwide, people are being asked to stop joining in person.

This unprecedented time has left many feeling lonely and isolated. Cannabis can prove useful in these times to promote feelings of intimacy and connectedness in virtual environments, thus facilitating online connections.

For example, cannabis can act as a kind of social lubricant, transcending social boundaries, enabling disinhibition while allowing people to stay safe and follow public health guidelines. That said, cannabis can help satisfy online sexual experiences without the added risk of meeting in person.

Given that the contexts, patterns, and motivations for using cannabis for sex closely match those normally associated with chemsex, we shall continue to examine how cannabis may reduce or reduce potentially harmful drugs used in sex can replace. Recent studies in Canada and elsewhere have shown that cannabis use can be helpful in reducing and / or replacing other potentially more harmful drugs.

Our work builds on this and suggests that cannabis can also be used as a harm reduction measure in sexual contexts. Whether it’s a pandemic or chemsex-related harm, the need to ensure the safety of men with sexual and gender minorities remains crucial.

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Natasha parent, PhD student in human development, learning and culture, University of British Columbia; and Rod Knight, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia.

This article is republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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