Risks and Long-Term Effects of Party Drug Use

Substance use and abuse is inherently dangerous, regardless of sexual orientation and practice. It can negatively affect physical health and compromise social and economical well-being. Drug use, itself, is considered a significant risk factor for the transmission of STDs, though it is not always regarded as such. Awareness to the effects of party drugs is necessary to reducing the prevalence of these diseases, which can cause lifelong effects and death.

Lifestyle factors common to many gay men may exacerbate the inherently dangerous use of street drugs. For example, bars are prominent in the social landscape of many LGBT communities, and alcohol is equally common at circuit parties. Mixing party drugs with alcohol can not only cast aside discretion, it can be deadly.

Furthermore, while drugs like "poppers" increase heart rate and relax muscles, they also dilate blood vessels and cause the heart to pump blood vigorously. When used prior to anal sex (as they often are) they increase the risk for anal bleeding and STDs if an anal tear or sore is present.

The following is a list of primary and secondary risk factors associated with drug use:

  • Abundance of dangerous homemade synthetics on the street (made from paint thinner, cyanide, etc.)
  • Dependency (need for more in light of the withdrawal effects of many party drugs, which include lethargy and depression)
  • Heart attack, stroke, respiratory failure (dangerous effects of drugs combined with the rigors of physical exertion and sex)
  • Heat stroke, exhaustion, severe dehydration (with dancing, especially in venues with inadequate climate control)
  • Hepatitis and other STDs (through unsafe sex and sharing contaminated needles)
  • HIV and AIDS (through unsafe sex and sharing contaminated needles)
  • Incarceration (illegal possession of controlled substances)
  • Increased risk for anal bleeding
  • Long-term neurotoxicity (permanent nerve damage, psychosis)
  • Unconsciousness, seizures, death (resulting from mixing drugs or mixing drugs and alcohol)

Party Drug Abuse Treatment and Prevention

The following organizations provide substance-abuse treatment information and mental health advocacy:

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 04 Dec 2001

Last Modified: 06 Oct 2015