To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Too painful to think about: chemsex and trauma

Stephen Morris (Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, London, UK)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 7 January 2019

Issue publication date: 21 February 2019




Whilst chemsex is a relatively new phenomenon, trauma is not. Freud borrowed the word from physical medicine, where it was used to describe tissue damage, and applied it, for the first time, as a metaphor to a psychological process by which the protective functioning of the mind can too be pierced and wounded by events. The chemsex environment hosts a myriad of potentially traumatising scenarios and experiences, though perhaps disguised as exhilaration or excitement. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The paper is a practitioner’s experience.


These experiences piled on top of childhood experiences of being “less than” for being gay, can be responsible for widespread undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among those who engage in chemsex. This paper explores this possibility and offers solutions.


Compounded trauma and PTSD symptoms amongst MSM who engage in chemsex has to date, not been researched.



Morris, S. (2019), "Too painful to think about: chemsex and trauma", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 42-48.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles