CONTROLLING CHEMSEX is a service created and run by professionals with long experience providing Chemsex support, many of whom have struggled with Chemsex in the past themselves. We are here to provide a new kind of Chemsex intervention to reinforce the support that is currently available, using new technologies to facilitate access to support for everybody, in order to make things as easy as possible for people who find it really difficult to access support, and respecting the fact that confidentiality is highly important for them.
CONTROLLING CHEMSEX IS ABSOLUTELY COMMITTED TO HELP YOU. We are passionate, we understand this reality and we are not here to judge you, we are here to help you. We believe in compassion and care above any other considerations such as politics or data analysis.
Some of the members of our team are:
IGNACIO LABAYEN DE INZA
DIRECTOR AND CO-FOUNDER OF CONTROLLING CHEMSEX
After having experienced serious problems with chems myself for years, suffering from severe GHB dependency in different periods of my life, and after having used Tina and many other substances on a daily basis for a long time, I have been working tirelessly since 2008 supporting men who are struggling with Chemsex, presenting with issues such as isolation, trauma, homophobia, very low self esteem, experiencing serious difficulties with engaging in sex sober or experiencing any kind of intimacy, HIV issues, etc. I can’t deny that I struggled with many of these issues myself in the past because of my drug use, and that is why I can say out loud that there is life after chemsex, and happiness is also an option.
For all these years I have been working very passionatelyin the finest services in the UK that offers Chemsex support, such as Antidote, Club Drug Clinic, Turning Point and since 2011 I have been a Chemsex specialist advisor at 56 Dean Street Sexual Health Clinic. I have seen between 12-15 people a week for years, which makes thousands of men in my whole career, providing brief interventions as well as more structured support in order to help them to take the control back over their chems use.
In 2019, as an activist, I started to provide chemsex support on Grindr and Scruff in London, and the response was so huge that very soon it was clear that there was a very urgent need to professionalise this kind of support that nobody else was providing before. Those are the platforms where so many people contact with one another who are looking for chemsex, and it was basic to start to operate there. Additionally, many people were reporting that the paranoia that they were experiencing because of their drug use was preventing them from contacting traditional chemsex support, as well as big fear of people knowing about it because of the stigma, which highlighted the need of being able to offer an option to get help anonymously. That is why we only work online, which has been extremely useful since the coronavirus appeared, and why, together with other professionals, we created Controlling Chemsex. I am very proud of my journey, I am who I am because I was who I was and I did what I did, and precisely because of all that, today there is a service that is bringing hope and highly effective chemsex support to so many people who are in a situation where is impossible to believe that some of the best days of their lives haven’t happened yet.
STRATEGY MANAGER AND CHEMSEX SPECIALIST ADVISOR
After experiencing a personal loss of a friend due to complications with their addiction and involvement with chemsex, I decided to give back to the community knowing that at the time, there wasn't enough being been done to support people who were affected by the chems and chem sex scene, or even post support for chem users and their friends and family.
Looking at this gap, I volunteered with London Friend where I developed many years experience as a senior key worker within their substance and alcohol support group, Antidote. While at Antidote I gained the most of my experience in supporting LGBT people that had control issues around substance and alcohol use.
From Antidote, I worked with Positive UK and Positive East supporting their network of friends and family affected by HIV.
After a few years gap from volunteering, this brings me to the last few months where I have been working with Ignacio to help develop, deploy and support the group Controllingchemsex, an online service that helps the LGBT community with their direct and indirect effects of chem sex.
I hope to continue the work with Ignacio in creating and continuing a unique service for people affected by chems and chemsex, providing much needed support for London, UK and the rest of the world utilising online tools to help the people receive much needed support.
PHILIP DAVID MARK
CHEMSEX SPECIALIST ADVISOR
Hello my name is Philip, and I am a Londoner, living in Hackney with my Brazilian husband. I have always been a gay rights activist: fighting for gay rights in every area of life, with policies, zaps, kiss ins and demonstrations. Now my activism involves volunteering to help gay men caught up in the dark and confusing world of Chemsex
I started to provide Chemsex support since 2015 and am now volunteering at 3 different London based Chemsex organisations as well as helping a number of friends in trouble. I managed to successfully overcome my own unhealthy and destructive lifestyle after a number of crises in 2012 and believe that it is up to us as gay men, as it was 30 years ago, to support each other and our community in a world where we can still be invisible and vulnerable.
I have spent most of my professional life in education and believe that this work has a lot of similarities with Chemsex support We provide empathy and a non judgmental ear but within a clear system of skills, organisation and boundaries. Providing a structure and a helping hand to support our journeys towards happier and more rewarding sense of self.
CHEMSEX SPECIALIST ADVISOR
My name is Dan and I have worked as a Chemsex adviser since April 2019.
I have been working in health and wellbeing since 2007, in areas such as cardiac, metabolic and more recently, sexual health. My roles have allowed me to assist people with making positive and sustainable health changes.
My current role as a sexual health adviser often involves working with our LGBT+ community, and problematic Chems use is a common theme.
As a gay man, I felt it was important to provide help for those experiencing difficulty with their substance use, and that I was well positioned to give this support having experienced difficulty myself in the past. This prompted me to complete a certificate of Addiction Treatment: Clinical Skills for Healthcare Providers. I absolutely believe in a multidisciplinary approach that involves a number of health professionals, and that the support that I provide is an integral part of a larger team.
I enjoy working with anyone who is keen to make changes, and I enjoy the challenge of helping people find their individual way back to living a more beautiful life.
CHEMSEX SPECIALIST ADVISOR
I’m Daniel. I’m a psychotherapist working with clients on issues including identity, self-acceptance, understanding and managing emotions, and purpose and meaning. I'm also a qualified organisational and social psychologist and an executive coach.
I've previously worked as a mentor for the Albert Kennedy Trust, supporting LGBTQ+ young people manage issues around identity, coming out, relationships, housing and homelessness. I'm grateful to have the opportunity through Controlling Chemsex to support people dealing with issues around sex, sexuality and substance use.
In my therapeutic work, my aim is to help make it safe for people to be themselves. What this means to me is helping people know and understand themselves better, so they have a solid foundation from which to grow and develop, and to forge satisfying and rewarding relationships with others.
Prior to retraining as a psychologist and psychotherapist I worked in corporate finance in the City, so I have a good understanding of the intense pressures to perform and conform that many of us manage in our day to day working lives.
CHEMSEX SPECIALIST ADVISOR
My name is Emilio, I'm a psychiatrist and a clinical research physician. I'm also gay and European, which means I drape my jumpers over my shoulders, much to my husband's embarrassment. Having said that, I've managed to blend in so well in this country that I often forget I'm actually Spanish.
I came to the UK in 1996 to work on a new medication for HIV at the time when highly effective treatments were just emerging. Very quickly I discovered the London gay scene and realised for the first time that being gay could be cool and nothing to be ashamed of. I've spent part of my career treating patients with addictions and mental health conditions. The rest of the time I've been developing new treatments for HIV, addictions, and mental health disorders.
Volunteering for Controlling Chemsex is very rewarding: I get to review the medical information we provide to clients and make sure it's backed up by scientific evidence. I assess people when my colleagues sense that their clients may have a mental health condition as well as an addiction to chemsex. Supporting clients face-to-face means a lot to me. I see it as a privilege to be able to help people get back on track, and to get more out of their lives without chemsex getting in the way. At the same time, it's a lesson in humility, because it's never straightforward, and as soon as you as you start to think you know all there is to know about chemsex, you realise there's always something new you can learn from the very person you're trying to help.
We are fortunate to have an experienced and committed team of counsellors at Controlling Chemsex. We have weekly meetings to discuss our cases, exchange advice, and make sure we look after each other's mental wellbeing.
HONORARY PSYCHOSEXUAL AND RELATIONSHIP THERAPIST
My name is David and I am an Honorary Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist, currently in training with the London Diploma of Psychosexual and Relationship Therapy and undertaking a placement with Controlling Chemsex.
PRT (Psychosexual and Relationship Therapy) is a process of personal and relational exploration through both talking and the use of different exercises, that can help you understand yourself more fully and how to manage psychosexual and relationship challenges. Some of the areas covered by PRT are rapid/delayed ejaculation, anorgasmia, erectile dysfunction, painful sex, inhibited desire, general sexual dissatisfaction, sexual trauma or relationship/intimacy issues. I work with individuals and couples.
My background includes two BAs in Political Science and Sociology, MA in Social Work, Postgraduate Diplomas in Conflict Resolution and Processwork, Counselling Level 2 and 3, and a one-year Diploma with Authentic Eros (Berlin) where a group of 30 gay/bi/trans men explored sex, emotional intelligence and spirituality. I have also undertaken courses of tantra sex for gay men in Munich. In the last 15 years I have been working in the Social Services field in different roles supporting our most vulnerable citizens.
I am very excited to work with Controlling Chemsex and support men who have sex with men to connect with their sexual selves in a way that works for them and to develop healthy fulfilling relationships.