India: Sex, Drugs, And Illness: How Chemsex Is Harming India's Gay Men

It was a chilly December night. I was living on the outskirts of Delhi, away from my family and boyfriend. My friends had come over for a few drinks and we wrapped up the party at 2am.

I cleaned the apartment and finally went to bed. Just as I was about to fall asleep, a terrible loneliness overcame me. I longed to have someone by my side to see me through the night. I wanted to sleep next to a man and wake up in his arms the next morning.

I unlocked my phone and opened Grindr. I matched with someone and we hit it off instantly. We quickly exchanged pictures and agreed on where to meet. But right after I stepped outside and started hunting for my cab, I sensed that something was wrong. He called me several dozen times during my 15-minute cab ride, frantic and edgy. This behaviour was not new to me. I had been in those exact same shoes months before. He was high on drugs and had lost his grip on time.

Grindr – an app for gay men to find and meet like-minded people – was one of my ugly addictions. When I was younger and new to the app, I believed that it helps you get to know other gay men and gives you a shot at finding love; but after half a decade of using it, I know it’s more useful as a means to find hookup partners to get you through the night.

But I didn’t always meet people just for plain vanilla sex. There's been another trend booming on Grindr for the last few years: The app is increasingly being used by gay men looking to combine drugs and sex. Usernames such as "High Fun" and "Chem Sex" are gaining traction, and messages like "Into high fun? Do you slam? Let’s split the cost? Let’s play high!" are being shared more frequently.

The use of drugs to enhance pleasure is not new, but there is something different about the new drugs flooding Indian markets. Meth, meow-meow, M-cat, cat, crystal, glass, MD, white, powder, stuff – whatever you call them, all the names refer to the same class of drugs: amphetamines. These drugs can help elevate arousal levels while lowering inhibitions for several hours – sometimes days – at a stretch.

But not all amphetamines are made the same. Though MDMA and meth are both amphetamines, they have vastly different effects. While MDMA gives you euphoria, energy, and sexual urges, meth is more toxic and impure, and the high is fast, piercing, addictive, and usually accompanied by paranoia and hallucinations. But crucially, meth is also a whole lot cheaper. Standard rates for meth in Indian metros range from Rs 500–800 a gram, whereas MDMA will cost you Rs 2,000–3,000 a gram. Read more via Buzzfeed