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Chemsex: origins of the word, a history of the phenomenon and a respect to the culture

David Stuart (Department of Genitourinary Medicine/HIV, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 25 January 2019

Issue publication date: 21 February 2019




The purpose of this paper is to clarify the origins, use and meaning of the term “chemsex”.


The approach used here is one born of personal experiences and reflection.


The term chemsex has a definition and a purpose that promotes culturally competent care for a marginalized group of vulnerable people.

Research limitations/implications

This is a qualitative, personal, point-of-view piece which may be of value in broadening understandings and responses amongst public health and academic activities.

Practical implications

The findings can be used to develop a sense of community and support amongst men who have sex with men in a chemsex setting, and to provide some background and context for professionals working in this field.


This paper is amongst the first, if not the first, of its nature to be published in an academic journal.



Stuart, D. (2019), "Chemsex: origins of the word, a history of the phenomenon and a respect to the culture", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 3-10.



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