Party and play

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Methamphetamine is the drug most associated with the term "party and play".

Party and play, party 'n' play (PNP or PnP), or chemsex is the consumption of drugs to facilitate sexual activity. Sociologically, both terms refer to a subculture of recreational drug users who engage in high-risk sexual activities under the influence of drugs within groups.[1]

The term PnP is commonly used by gay men[1][not in citation given] and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in North America, while chemsex is more associated with the gay scene in Europe.[2]

The drug of choice is typically methamphetamine, known as tina or T,[3] but other drugs are also used, such as mephedrone, GHB, GBL[4] and alkyl nitrites (known as poppers).[5]

Some studies have found that people participating in such sex parties have a higher probability of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases by having unprotected anal sex with large numbers of sexual partners. For this reason, "chemsex" has been described as "a public health priority".[4]


Methamphetamine is often used recreationally for its effects as a potent aphrodisiac, euphoriant, and stimulant.[6] It has been further described that "an entire subculture known as party and play is based around methamphetamine use."[6] Gay men belonging to this subculture will typically meet up through internet dating sites to have sex.[6] On such sites, men often include notations such as "chems" or "PNP".[6] Since stimulant drugs such as methamphetamine drastically delay the need for sleep, increase sexual arousal, and tend to inhibit ejaculation, PNP sexual encounters can continue for many hours.[6]

Methamphetamine taken in excess of amounts prescribed or recommended will prolong symptoms of intoxication for up to eight hours.[7] In some cases, these sexual encounters will sometimes occur continuously for several days along with repeated methamphetamine use.[6] The crash following the use of methamphetamine in this manner is very often severe, with marked hypersomnia.[6]

Internet posts by men seeking PNP experiences often resort to slang to identify what drug they are partying with.[8][9]

These drugs tend to inhibit penile erection,[6][7] a phenomenon known by the slang term crystal penis or pilly willy. Consequently, many men who engage in PNP use erectile dysfunction drugs such as sildenafil, vardenafil, and tadalafil.[10]

For some PNP participants, substance use may facilitate a process of "cognitive disengagement" from the fears and stipulations associated with sex in the time of HIV/AIDS. Popular discourses of "disinhibition" provide a commonly accepted alibi for activities engaged in when under the influence of substances.[10]

Medical risks

The same drug-induced loss of inhibitions makes PNP enthusiasts more vulnerable to more immediate threats, such as robbery, date rape, or assault, or murder, by someone whom they meet for sex.[11] The term party and play - and pay has emerged as a warning that partying and playing leads to bareback sex which increases the chances of contracting HIV and may result in other consequences such as neurological damage[12] and resistance to HIV drugs.[8]

Methamphetamine can cause sores and abrasions in the mouth which can turn typically low-HIV-risk sex acts such as oral sex into very-high-risk sexual activity.[13]


Men who PNP with methamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA, and ketamine are twice as likely to have unprotected sex (meaning sex without using a condom), according to British research from 2006. The study also found that up to 20% of gay men from central London gyms had tried methamphetamine, the drug most associated with PNPing.[14]

History and cultural significance

Subcultures of psychoactive drug use have long existed within urban gay communities, since the disco era and before. These substances have been used for dancing, socializing, communal celebration and other purposes.[15] The rise of online websites and hookup apps in the 1990s gave men new ways of cruising and meeting sexual partners, including the ability to arrange private sexual gatherings in their homes.[16]

From the early 2000s, historic venues of gay socialization such as bars, clubs, and dance events reduced in number in response to a range of factors, including gentrification, zoning laws, licensing restrictions, and the increased number of closeted or under the influence sexually labile men, and the increasing popularity of digital technologies for sexual and social purposes.[17]

In this context, PNP emerged as an alternative form of sexualized partying that enabled participants to avoid the public scrutiny and potentially judgmental and anxiety provoking nature of the "public space". Newly popular drugs such as methamphetamine and GHB/GBL replaced dance drugs such as ecstasy within this context.[citation needed]

While PNP sessions tend to be organized around sex, there is some evidence that they can serve a range of social purposes for their participants, including the opportunity to meet other gay men, become friends, and engage in erotic play and experimentation. In some instances, PNP sessions play a part in the formation of loose social networks that are valued and relied upon by participants.[16] For other men, increasing reliance on hookup apps and websites to arrange sex may result in a sense of isolation that may exacerbate the risk of drug dependence, especially in the context of a lack of other venues for gay socializing and sexual community-formation.[17]


It has been observed that reliable data and relevant research are generally lacking and this situation is generating a climate of moral panic. In an article published by The Guardian, it has been argued that an exaggerated reporting might give the public a distorted impression of the magnitude of this phenomenon – and that can only increase the level of collective anxiety.[18]

See also


  1. ^ a b "PSA tackles PNP: TV ad warns against crystal meth usage in the gay male community". 2007-09-21. Archived from the original on September 21, 2007. Retrieved 2015-12-11.
  2. ^ "What is ChemSex". 2018-06-02. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  3. ^ Brown, Ethan (April 29, 2002). "Crystal Ball". Retrieved 2015-12-11.
  4. ^ a b McCall, Hannah; Adams, Naomi; Mason, David; Willis, Jamie (2015-11-03). "What is chemsex and why does it matter?". BMJ. 351: h5790. doi:10.1136/bmj.h5790. ISSN 1756-1833. PMID 26537832.
  5. ^ "How gay culture bottled a formula that has broken down boundaries". The Independent. 2016-01-22. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h San Francisco Meth Zombies (TV documentary). National Geographic Channel. August 2013. ASIN B00EHAOBAO.
  7. ^ a b "Desoxyn Prescribing Information" (PDF). United States Food and Drug Administration. December 2013. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  8. ^ a b Frederick, B.J. (2012). Partying with a purpose: Finding meaning in an online "party 'n' play" subculture [Masters thesis]. California State University, Long Beach.
  9. ^ Frederick, Brian J.; Perrone, Dina (2014-11-02). ""Party N Play" on the Internet: Subcultural Formation, Craigslist, and Escaping from Stigma". Deviant Behavior. 35 (11): 859–884. doi:10.1080/01639625.2014.897116. ISSN 0163-9625.
  10. ^ a b Race K (2009): Pleasure Consuming Medicine: The queer politics of drugs Durham: Duke University Press.
  11. ^ Frederick, BJ (11 July 2013). Dangerous Liaisons: The Risks of Using Gay/MSM 'Hookup' Technologies [Conference presentation]. International Congress on Gender Violence, International Institute for the Sociology of Law, Onati, Spain.
  12. ^ Brecht, M.L.; O’brien, A.; Von Mayrhauser, C.; Anglin, M.D. (2004). "Methamphetamine use behaviors and gender differences". Addict Behav. 29 (1): 89–106. doi:10.1016/S0306-4603(03)00082-0. PMID 14667423. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  13. ^ Moore, Patrick (June 17, 2005). "The Queer Issue: The Crystal Crisis". Archived from the original on February 6, 2008. Retrieved 2015-12-11.
  14. ^ "Up to 20 per cent of gay men have tried crystal meth". PinkNews. 2006-07-14. Retrieved 2015-12-11.
  15. ^ Race, K. (2011). Party Animals: The significance of drug practices in the materialization of urban gay identity. In Suzanne Fraser and David Moore (Eds.), The Drug Effect: Health, Crime and Society, (pp. 35-56). Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press.
  16. ^ a b Race, Kane (2015-03-01). "'Party and Play': Online hook-up devices and the emergence of PNP practices among gay men". Sexualities. 18 (3): 253–275. doi:10.1177/1363460714550913. ISSN 1363-4607.
  17. ^ a b Race, Kane (2014-09-01). "Complex Events: Drug Effects and Emergent Causality". Contemporary Drug Problems. 41 (3): 301–334. doi:10.1177/009145091404100303. ISSN 0091-4509.
  18. ^ "Gay men need clear information about 'chemsex', not messages about morality". The Guardian. 2015-11-10. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-07-09.

Further reading

  • DANCE OF DEATH, First of three parts, CRYSTAL METH FUELS HIV Christopher Heredia, May 4, 2003, SF Gate
  • "Chemsex study: exploring sex and drugs among gay men in south London | Sigma Research". Retrieved 2015-12-11.
  • "Frederick, Brian Jay (2016) Exploring the (Sub)Cultural Dynamics of Gay, Bisexual and Queer Male Drug Use in Cyberspace. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent, University of Hamburg".
  • "Frederick, B.J. (2012). Partying with a purpose: Finding meaning in an online "party 'n' play" subculture [Masters thesis]. California State University, Long Beach". Retrieved 2015-12-11.
  • "The Internet and Drug Markets -Study" (PDF). Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  • "Duwe, Justin (2018) The Truth About Chemsex: Understanding and Overcoming Chemsex Addiction".

External links

  • Thanki, D. & Frederick, B. (2016). 'Social media and drug markets', The internet and drug markets (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction: Insights 21), Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
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