For better or worse, these substances are very prevalent on the gay scene. Gay and bisexual men generally take substances more frequently and over a longer period of time than men in the general population. Illegal drugs are also present in multiple risks linked to the nature and quality of these products as well as the health of those taking them and the context where they are taken.
Tobacco consumption is the first avoidable cause of illness and death in Switzerland. Cardio-vascular disease, cancer, strokes, heart attacks and thrombosis are all caused by smoking. As we can see, gay men smoke more and are more often active smokers than men in the general population.
Approximately the same percentage of men in the general population and the gay male population do not drink alcohol or drink excessively. On the other hand, gay men were less common among those drinking less (low consumption) and more common among those drinking a lot (high consumption). Alcohol and drug usage is also frequently high among those suffering from mental disorders in order to relieve suffering and shake off a feeling of loneliness. Alcohol dependency was not studied in the Swiss Health Survey of the general population.
Young gay men take drugs at roughly the same rate as young people in the general population. Once they become adults, drug, alcohol and tobacco consumption among gay men is higher on average than for men in the general population. Poppers (alkyl nitrites) are mostly used (inhaled) for sex. The Federal Statistics Office does not publish data on the use of hallucinogens among the general population.
A research study published in 2016 on substance usage among Checkpoint Geneva patients gave more recent data and shows substance use is common among gay men.
Stimulant usage (amphetamine and derivatives such as crystal meth, meth, mephedrome) during sexual activity (known as “chemsex”) is on the rise in certain sub-sectors of the gay community, particularly those who practice group sex. Using this type of drug entails very high health risks.
If you take drugs, find out about their effects and quality before you get them from specialized sites such as “Nuit Blanche”. If you take medication, it is important to find out if any drugs you take are compatible with those medicines. If you have a drug and/or alcohol problem, schedule an appointment at Checkpoint or some other specialized service. A list of services is available on the Blues Out site.