Chemsex is a type of drug use which has seen its popularity surge in recent months. The term describes the use of drugs such as gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), gamma butyrolactone (GBL), crystal methamphetamine, ketamine and mephedrone to enhance sexual activity.

GHB and GBL are known colloquially as drug ‘G’. This recreational drug became popular around 2016 but demand for it has rocketed since the concept of chemsex became more mainstream. Gardaí, especially in drugs units, have noticed an increase in the number of people using the drug in Dublin city centre in recent months.

Users are increasingly sourcing drug ‘G’ online, such as via the gay dating app Grindr and online advertising sites. has also learned that users are having it distributed through delivery firms such as Parcel Motel. Instead of having the drugs sent to their homes, the buyers are having them delivered to a ‘virtual address’. The gardaí is aware of one specific location which is being used on a frequent basis.

“The internet drug market is tough for us. There has been a huge increase in the number of people who are ordering online. Are we going to beat this? I don’t think so. But we’re stopping it getting to the public which is the main thing. The frightening thing is the extent to which people have faith in what they’re ordering”, said Liam Peakin, Revenue’s Customs Drugs Law Enforcement manager.

Gay drug scene

The practice of chemsex is usually associated with the gay scene, often involves multiple people and can lead to sexual encounters that last for hours or days. Slamsex is the term used when the same drugs are injected for a more intense high.

GBL was made illegal in 2010 under new laws designed to combat so-called head shop drugs. Those found in possession of the drug face up to 7 years imprisonment and/or a fine for unlawful possession. A charge of unlawful supply could see up to a maximum period of life imprisonment. GHB has been rated as the ninth most harmful psychoactive substance by both UK and European experts.

“It’s a very easy substance to overdose on. Unfortunately, we know of a number of people over the last number of months and years who have died … Last year, three people that I know of died”, said Adam Shanley, outreach worker with the Gay Men’s Health Service.

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