On May 29, 2018, the lifeless body of Christophe Michel, 31, was found in a man's apartment in the Paris suburbs.
Around him: syringes, snorting equipment, bottles of alcohol and sex toys.
After months of investigation, the judicial police concluded that the husband of Jean-Luc Romero, the deputy mayor of Paris, had died of an overdose of drugs and alcohol following intense sexual intercourse .
A practice commonly called chemsex (from English
), stemming from Anglo-Saxon gay culture and increasingly widespread in France since the 2000s. “Christophe died in total indifference, learning of his death from this way was incredibly violent,
Chemsex is no longer a marginal phenomenon.
It is time for the public authorities to seize it.”
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If the elected Parisian, author of the book
More alive than ever, how to survive the unacceptable
, was until then among the few politicians to speak about it publicly, the Palmade affair is now relaunching the debates.
On February 11, the 54-year-old comedian was taken into custody after a serious road accident causing several injuries.
According to information from Le
, he was accompanied by two young men, coming out of a twenty-four hour party and still under the influence of narcotics.
If the word chemsex was not officially attached to the file, the context evoked brings to light the existence of this phenomenon and its dangerousness.
Boost of self-confidence
By definition, chemsex consists of taking psychoactive substances (
synthetic drugs of the 3-MMC type, methamphetamine or GHB, editor's note
) with the aim of facilitating, prolonging and intensifying sexual intercourse.
will combine several substances during these “sessions”, explains Anne Batisse, pharmacist at the Center for Evaluation and Information on Drug Dependence (CEIP-A) in Paris.
They will add alcohol, poppers or drugs to synthetic drugs, to help the descent or to prolong the erection.
All this gives an explosive cocktail, from which some never get up.
In 2018, the Drames
(1) initiated by the Regional Health Agency, identified since 2015 nearly ten deaths per year during these evenings.
A figure that would be false, as it is "complicated to make the link between a death, a context and a practice".
Falsely low also in view of his dazzling profession in urban areas.
In 2020, the
New York Times
even went so far as to compare chemsex to a new AIDS epidemic.
Last year, we thus investigated the drifts of this world, between pleasures and sufferings.
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“Relapses are frequent”
Like every Friday, Étienne* opens the doors of a church located in the 5th arrondissement of Paris.
For almost two years now, he has hosted meetings of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) dedicated to LGBT people inside the building.
A 38-year-old former "chemsexeur", having lived through hell for almost ten years, he now listens with an attentive ear to the tortuous journey of these newcomers "better and younger and more and more numerous."
Among them, Mathias*, a 21-year-old architecture student.
Landed in the capital at his majority, the young man fell into chemsex through a man twice his age met on the
dating application .
On their second date, with friends, 3-MMC had been passed from hand to hand under the table.
“It was unbelievable... I was a young homosexual who didn't assume himself at the time.
All of a sudden I could fulfill my fantasies, I felt alive.
So picking on each of my reports has become an obsession.
Every weekend, I found myself in apartments, with lots of men, for days on end.
I had totally lost control,” he recalls.
I was a young homosexual who did not assume himself.
All of a sudden I could fulfill my fantasies, I felt alive
If Mathias, who has not relapsed for four months, wears a broad smile that day, Gaël him, does not hide his rage and his dismay.
"The appeal of chemsex is too strong for me," says the 28-year-old practitioner, looking disillusioned.
Her last experience, which was less than a week ago, lasted four days this time.
Without sleeping or eating.
A year ago, Gaël had however become aware of the gravity of his situation, after waking up naked in a foreign apartment.
Like Christophe Michel, the husband of Jean-Luc Romero, he had been the victim of a G-Hole, a very frequent – and trivialized – GBL overdose, plunging the most “lucky” into ephemeral comas.
“I don't remember anything,” he explains.
I just know that they raped me several times while they were filming me.
I often thought about killing myself after that.
And yet, I go back there every time.”
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A multidisciplinary follow-up
For Dorian Cessa, psychiatrist and addictologist at the Lyon University Hospital and author of the
Sea, Sex and Chems
study (2020), the consequences of chemsex are dramatic for the victims as much as for the aggressors.
“I have patients who have done things during these evenings that they do not remember, he insists.
The fact of not sleeping, not drinking, not eating, and ingesting so many substances, makes them lose the notion of reality.
In fact, there are only victims in these parts.
There are only victims in these parts
Dorian Cessa, psychiatrist and addictologist
How to fight against chemsex?
Why get the youngest practitioners out of this scourge?
The doctor responds with an alarming observation: "The addiction centers do not understand that this is a co-addiction, both linked to the taking of products and to sexual behavior, almost always transferring patients to individual services.
However, he explains, it is necessary to have a multidisciplinary follow-up, with an addictologist, a sexologist and a psychiatrist, to heal.
“Understand: a patient will cure his addiction to drugs but not to sex.
So, when he wants sex, he will inevitably plunge back into drugs, since in his head the two are correlated.
In Paris, only the Fernand Widal hospital has recently offered complete care.
Opened in September 2020,
In video, this Youtuber demonstrates that it is easy to drug a girl without her knowledge
In an attempt to mitigate the damage, others then take the problem to the root.
Like Michel Mau, president of Playsafe, an association fighting to reduce risks in the festive environment.
He has decided to track down the sites and applications (Snapchat, Tinder, Grinder, etc.) where these illicit substances are sold.
In 2020, nearly 600 over-the-counter synthetic drugs were identified by the French Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFTD).
“It is the trivialization of this market that facilitates the emergence of chemsex.
Drugs have become accessible in one click and less and less expensive,” he warns.
Michel Mau has been urging the public authorities for several years to wake up, calling for awareness so as not to deplore a massacre of the gay community.
“There is a huge taboo around chemsex, as it is both related to minorities and to sexuality.
But the practice has spread, and affects everyone, he adds.
The associations must now be supported and helped”.
Thus, if Jean-Luc Romero deplored, a few years ago, that eyes dive into shoes when he raised the question of chemsex at the Ministry of Health, the Pierre Palmade affair could well remedy this.
"Chemsex has taken too many lives," he said.
I don't want any more Christophes to die."
The names have been changed
(1) Dramas, Deaths Related to Drug and Substance Abuse