New South Wales

New peer service for people who practise sexualised drug use

New South Wales LGBTIQA+ health organisation ACON has launched a new information and support service for people who engage in sexualised drug use, often termed ‘chemsex’ or ‘party and play’.

Devised and led by peers with experience of sexualised drug use, M3THOD is a free and confidential service for gay and bisexual cis and trans men, trans women, and non-binary people who use crystal methamphetamine or GHB in combination with sex.

Australian research shows that nearly 10% of gay and bi men report using crystal methamphetamine or GHB in the previous 6 months, with about 85% using these drugs for sex. 

A 2018 study led by the Kirby Institute found that 15.8% of trans people reported sexualised drug use in the previous 12 months.

“It is important to point out that many people who use drugs in sexual settings are able do so with little to no harm,” said ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill. 

“However, some do [experience harm], and [they deserve] tailored support.”

Parkhill said that many in the community encounter barriers to health services. 

“Our M3THOD service intends to break down some of those barriers by providing timely and effective peer-led support,” he said.

“People who have utilised M3THOD so far have told us that they felt comfortable to share parts of their experience with a peer, feeling safe in the knowledge that peers come with their own lived experiences and are relatable and non-judgmental.” 

M3THOD appointments are in-person or by telehealth and booked online

Appointments with peers usually go for about 45 minutes and provide people with an opportunity to explore their relationship with party and play, learn about how they can manage their drug use, and get support if they want to change their use.

“M3THOD aims to empower people to use more safely, to make informed decisions and stay in control of their health and wellbeing,” said Parkhill.

Accompanying the M3THOD service is a multi-year research project, the M3THOD Study, led by Associate Professor Garrett Prestage from HIV and Epidemiology Program at the Kirby Institute.

 “The M3THOD Study follows in the footsteps of the Flux Study, a research project investigating drug and alcohol use among gay and bisexual men that has engaged more than 3,000 participants since 2014,” said Professor Prestage. 

Funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the M3THOD Study is a collaboration between ACON, The Kirby Institute UNSW, Sydney Sexual Health Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, NADA, and Positive Life NSW.

If you or someone you know needs support, you can also refer to our list of community services and resources.

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