Chemsex and Mental Health

You will find here:

  1. What is psychosis (PARANOIA, HEARING VOICES, ETC), psychotic episodes, and drug induced psychosis
  2. How long chemsex induced psychosis last
  3. Common symptoms of drug induced psychosis related to chemsex
  4. How can I help myself if I am having a psychotic episode
  5. How can I help someone else



First of all, PSYCHOSIS is a is mental health problem which temporarily provokes that someone perceives or interprets the world differently from those who are around them. We are talking about delusions (irrational beliefs that conflict with reality, for example when someone is experiencing paranoia) or hallucinations (a perception of having seen, heard, touched, tasted or smelled something that wasn’t actually there).

Experiencing the symptoms of psychosis is often referred to as having a PSYCHOTIC EPISODE, and they can cause severe distress and a change of behaviour. Additionally, and to keep clarifying, DRUG INDUCED PSYCHOSIS is a psychotic episode that is related to the use of substances.

Psychotic episodes many times are connected with chemsex. We can’t forget that there are very powerful drugs involved, like Crystal Meth (psychotic symptoms and syndromes are frequently experienced among individuals who use Methamphetamine), which can keep people awake for days. The toxicity of these chems will induce an unnatural ability to function with extreme lack of sleep, and this can be desirable while involved in chemsex. What someone is doing while they should be sleeping, is to put more and more drugs into their system, increasing their sleep deprivation and increasing their risk of drug induced psychosis and their mind and body are unable to rest.

Some people seem able to take meth or cocaine for a long time without any problems, but then, after some time, the brain becomes so worn out that every time they take meth or other stimulants, they start to become suspicious and paranoid.

After a while, the paranoia can become so strong that people cannot properly tell the difference between reality and what is just a product of their imagination or a deep-seated fear. This is when one can start having delusions, those strong unshakeable beliefs about things for which there is no clear evidence and have very little or no connection with reality. At this stage, one may also start having hallucinations, which are those abnormal perceptions, such as hearing their own thoughts, hearing voices saying things to them even though no one is speaking to them, seeing things that are not real, tasting or smelling things that are not there, or even feeling strange sensations on their skin or in their body.

Strong stimulants like crystal meth send the brain into overdrive and, as we know, keep people going without much sleep for days on end. When someone becomes overstimulated by chems, excessive stress, or lack of sleep, the brain releases toxins and free radicals that damage the brain cells. Some of that damage gets repaired while we sleep, but if the brain goes on being damaged and it has no time to recover due to lack of sleep, the damage adds up and people are more likely to experience psychotic symptoms or another mental problem like becoming manic, feeling depressed, or even suicidal. Even before things get that bad, one starts to notice that the brain doesn’t work as well as usual. It becomes more difficult to take in information, to retain it and to act upon it. It becomes more difficult to concentrate, to stay focus, to plan and carry out normal tasks.



It depends on many things. Some people are more prone to experience psychosis than others. At the beginning, chemsex-induced psychosis may only last for a few hours or days but, if someone continues to do chems, the psychosis gets increasingly worse and can last for weeks, months, or even years, long after the drug has left the body.

The psychosis can be worse and last longer depending on the drug or combination of drugs that somebody has been using, whether they have pre-existing mental health disorder, how long they have been using chems for, how often, and how they take it. Injecting chems (slamming) is particularly harmful and lack of sleep makes the person more likely to become psychotic.



  • Feeling like someone is filming you or having hidden cameras around.
  • Feeling that someone is listening to you from outside the room.
  • Feeling that your phone/computer/devises are bugged or hacked.
  • Feeling at the center of a plot devised by a gang, cult, or people who you recently partied with.
  • Feeling that someone has deliberately infected you with any disease, or you have been drugged without consent.
  • Feeling that someone wants to convince you that you are insane.
  • Hearing voices or cruel persecutory voices.
  • Seeing floating presences in the periphery of vision.
  • Compulsive need to pick at the skin, pick at spots.
  • Being hyper-conscious of strange symptoms our body is displaying.
  • Believing that we can hear the electricity in the walls, or radio signals.
  • Being hyper-aware of insects or micro-bacteria in nooks, crannies, etc.
  • An awareness of incredible coincidences that no one else can see or interpret.
  • A feeling of being judged by everyone for being high/having gay sex/wanking/having HIV/being effeminate/being unsexy/not fitting in/for having particular fantasies or fetishes/for watching porn (or particular porn).
  • Feeling that something urgent or dangerous is at play, feeling unsafe.
  • The feeling of being followed, either electronically or in real life
  • An obsession with solving (or finding evidence of) any of the above.



When we are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, the best thing is to stop taking chems altogether and seek professional help if needed. Unfortunately, some people find it difficult to stop and they don’t make the connection between the chems they have been taking and the psychosis they are experience. Psychosis can feel so much like real life and last so long after taking chems that people find it hard to believe that it is connected to the drugs.

When you first start having mild psychotic episodes, having a good, long, refreshing sleep may be all that is required to recover.  If you are feeling slightly paranoid or experiencing some mild psychotic symptoms, the best thing to do is to find somewhere where you feel safe and try your best to sleep it off.

However, if the psychotic episode is so severe that you become frightened and you can’t settle down, you must call 999 and get professional help.

Here are some tips on how to manage a mild psychotic episode:


  • Feeling self-conscious.
  • Feeling that you are the least welcome person in the room.
  • Doubting or overthinking what a person really means with every sentence they say.
  • Feeling anxious instead of feeling ’high’.
  • Thinking obsessively about a text you have received, a blemish on your face, reliving a past trauma, or worrying excessively about all the things that could go wrong.


  • First of all, it’s very important to stop taking any more chems, to stop adding toxicity to your body.
  • Get somewhere where you feel safe. Home is always best if you feel safer there. (But if you feel you are in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to call 999 and ask for help, even if you are high or on drugs.)
  • Distraction is the absolute best thing we can do for ourselves in this state; that’s because the psychosis is mostly driven by an obsessive and anxious thought pattern. Obviously, the best thing is to try and get some sleep, but sleeping can be challenging for a while. If that is the case, try to stay calm, you will be able to sleep at some point. At this stage, calming or joyous music that we love can be helpful, cleaning the house or doing some gardening, or why not a relaxing bath with candles, or a long shower. Perhaps you can listen to some good podcasts or write down your thoughts. Just avoid doing anything that makes you more wound up or might trigger you to take more drugs. Eating and having a hot drink always help as well.
  • Technology doesn’t help when having a psychotic episode, so it’s much better to switch off your phone, tablet, laptop, etc. Remember that many times, technology is what triggers these feelings of insecurity. It’s particularly important to avoid becoming glued to watching porn or to using hook up apps such as Grindr or Scruff, because that is likely to worsen your feelings of paranoia, and you can get trapped there for hours and hours, or even days. Just avoid doing anything that makes you more wound up or might trigger you to take more drugs.
  • If after trying all of the above, you are still unable to sleep and you continue to feel quite paranoid the next day, your GP or an on-call psychiatrist at A&E will be able to help. They are there to help you and to protect you, so don’t be scared of calling them if things become too challenging.
  • Please, remember that self-medicating is very risky. If you have been taking G (GHB, GBL), benzos and sleeping tablets can be lethal because they work in a similar way to G and alcohol. If you take them after having been taking G or drinking alcohol, you may fall asleep and never wake up; it’s a fact that in those situations there are people who just stop breathing or become sick during their sleep, and drown in their own vomit.




  • Be yourself, they need to trust you and you need to make them feel safe and relaxed. Be gentle, calm and speak slowly and simply.
  • Make them feel comfortable to share what they are experiencing. Listen non-judgmentally and try to understand them.
  • Call the person’s name. Talk to the individual, and try to get them to respond and communicate as much as possible.
  • Ask them what you could do to help them. Stay positive.
  • Focus on their feelings in what he says, not on the facts of what they are saying.
  • Give them your full attention, be aware of your body language, etc.
  • Empathize with their situation “I would be terrified as well if all my devices were hacked!”
  • Ask about things you know they enjoy.
  • Take any threats or warnings seriously. If you are concerned about safety, then you may need to call 999.


  • Don’t threaten them. They are not feeling safe.
  • Trying to rationalize them out of their behavior, this is not likely to work.
  • Avoid criticizing or blaming them for their psychosis or the actions related to their psychosis.
  • Avoid touching the person without permission, even to give comfort.
  • Avoid denying or arguing with them about their reality. Don’t forget that for them it’s real even if it doesn’t make any sense.
  • Don’t take what they say personally. At that moment they are questioning everything, even the relationship that they have with you, so don’t get angry.
  • Do not directly confront them.
  • Don’t tell them that they are psychotic.
  • Do not use sarcasm and avoid using patronizing statements
  • Do not dismiss their concerns or laugh it off.
  • Do not encourage their psychosis by confirming it. You don’t need to comment directly.
  • Don’t try and take over or make decisions without them.

If you think you need to talk about it, or you feel you need some help, don't hesitate and contact us; we will reply very shortly. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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