More men using cocktail of drugs to get sexual high

SINGAPORE - Ice to get high.  Then Viagra or any other erectile dysfunction drug for a boost.

And finally poppers or amyl nitrite to relax muscles involved in gay sex.

It makes for a deadly cocktail, but some gay men are downing these to enhance their sexual experience.

Mr Wong Teck Siong, 28, was the latest death from drug-fuelled sex that went awry. His partner faces court later this month for failing to report his death.

Counsellors and an Aids advocacy group The New Paper spoke to are concerned about such drug abuse among gay men.

According to Fridae's international MSM (men who have sex with men) Sex Survey, the numbers are rising.

In its 2009 report, 13 per cent of respondents said they consumed drugs (including Viagra, Ecstasy, poppers, methamphetamines) before or during sex, which went up to 15 per cent the following year.

That translates to about one in seven respondents, which is relatively high, given that Singapore has one of the lowest drug abuse rates in the world.

Mr Bryan Choong, centre manager of Oogachaga, said the gay community "cannot afford to pretend that this does not happen when people are losing their lives and health to this issue".

Oogachaga provides counselling and support for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning) individuals.

One gay man said he had experimented with drugs for sex, but has since woken up to its dangers.

Leo (not his real name) said that he had in the past smoked methamphetamines or Ice before having sex with his then-boyfriend.

The slim 40-year-old salesman said that his Malaysian ex-partner introduced him to the drug.

Sex drive

"My sexual drive increased after taking Ice. Ice was not the only drug that we took. We also used other stuff like Ecstasy and ketamine," he said.

Leo said that his then-boyfriend is back in Malaysia and still hooked on drugs.

"I last saw him about a year ago and was shocked by what I saw. He was a very good-looking man who used to work in a top boutique in Kuala Lumpur.

"When I last met him, he was haggard, skinny and was jobless. Friends told me that he takes Ice every day," said Leo.

His former lover had also revealed to him that he had been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Said Leo: "I tried to advise him to seek treatment but he refused to listen. I don't know where he is now."

Leo only got his wake-up call when he was arrested several years ago for drug consumption and spent a year behind bars.

"I had enough time to reflect on my actions when I was in jail and decided that enough was enough," said Leo.

As his partner's case shows, drug use for sex can also lead to other problems, such as risky behaviour that results in sexually transmitted diseases, and addiction to the drugs.

Oogachaga's Mr Choong said drug use can affect a person's ability to make good judgment and control behaviour.

"This contributes to highly risky sexual behaviours when a drug is used during sex. A person's ability to make decisions can be affected."

Aids advocacy group, Action for Aids (AFA) said research has associated certain forms of recreational drug use with reduced and incorrect use of condoms during sexual intercourse.

Its spokesman said: "AFA has for several years included information on recreational drug use in the materials targeting the MSM community."

Difficult to tackle

Butthe problem is difficult to tackle because both drug use and gay sex are illegal.

The AFA spokesman said: "The criminalisation of both drug use and gay sex has made it difficult and tricky to launch high profile programmes that address this problem.

"This prevents MSM who may be infected with HIV from seeking medical consultation and counselling that can help prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infection and drug dependency issues."

As for addictions, Reverend Miak Siew of the Free Community Church, which accepts same-sex and transgender relationships, said his organisation also provides counselling and help to those seeking to break out of their addictions.

He felt that one of the main reasons why people abuse drugs is that they think they can control their drug use and would not get addicted. Oogachaga had conducted community talks titled "Understanding Substance Addictions" in 2010 and 2012.

The Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (Sana) was invited to the Oogachaga talk in 2010.

Sana's executive director, Mr Lim Poh Quee, however, said that it does not have any rehabilitation and counselling programmes specifically for drug addicts in the gay community.

The Central Narcotics Bureau said that it takes action against all drug offenders, regardless of age, gender, occupation and sexual orientation.

2010: 15 per cent (of 13,882 respondents)

*Drugs (for example Viagra, Ecstasy, poppers and methamphetamines) before or during sex for men who have sex with men (MSM).

Source: Fridae's international MSM Sex Survey

2009: 13 per cent (of 7,993 respondents)

Case 1

He asked his partner to administer him a cocktail of "Ice" and ketamine to "reduce the pain" during sex on April 2, 2011.

Teo Boon Leng, 45, complied and they fell asleep after having sex. But Mr Wong Teck Siong, 28, was found dead later that day.

Teo stuffed his body into a trolley bag and it was dumped in the sea 13 days later.

He pleaded guilty on Feb 21 to the offences, including failing to report the death and being in possession of drug paraphernalia.

Teo's lawyers Quek Mong Hua and Julian Tay will give their mitigation plea on March 22.

Case 2

They were a homosexual pair who would often combine several sexual enhancement drugs with ketamine and Ecstasy.

But the deadly cocktail of drugs cost Mr Francis Wee Chin Wah, 43, his life.

On Sept 15, 2009, Mr Wee's elderly mother found him dead on his bed in his River Valley Road shophouse, where he lived and sold art, bags, ceramics and vases. His then 36-year-old partner, who survived, was lying under the bed, unconscious.

About a year later, State Coroner Victor Yeo returned a verdict of misadventure in an inquiry into Mr Wee's death.

The cause of death was determined to be consistent with fatal brain damage and a low blood sugar level, compounded by methamphetamine and amphetamine intoxication.

Drugs and their dangers

Ecstasy

People take the tablets to dance all night, and sometimes die from exhaustion and dehydration. Other controlled drugs, such as ketamine and methamphetamine, and chemicals such as paracetamol and calcium carbonate are often taken with Ecstasy.

Effects and dangers

Increased heart rate and blood pressure; jaw clenching, teeth grinding and uncontrollable shaking; kidney, liver and brain damage; long-term memory loss; chills, sweating and vomiting; inability to think, see and co-ordinate properly and hallucinations.

Ketamine (K, Special K, Vitamin K)

Ketamine, an anaesthetic for veterinary as well as human use, comes as a white crystalline powder, liquid or tablet.

Effects and dangers

It produces a progression of effects, from a state of dreamy intoxication to delirium accompanied by the inability to move, feel pain or remember what has occurred under the drug's influence. Its effects last an hour or less but can affect the senses and co-ordination for up to 24 hours.

Inability to move; distorted judgement, perception, hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste; confusion and hallucinations; nose problems (bleeding, inability to smell properly); gastric pains; urinary and bladder problems.

Methamphetamine (Ice, Glass, Crystal, Speed, Ya ba)

Methamphetamine, which usually comes in a crystallised form known as methamphetamine hydrochloride, is known as Ice in Singapore. It also comes as tablets known as ya ba.

Effects and dangers

Has a strong effect on the central nervous system and is highly addictive. The abuser feels anxious and restless.

It increases the heart rate and body temperature; fits, stroke and death; damage to heart and nerves; liver and kidney diseases; abnormal behaviour with mood swings, confusion, delusion and hallucination; anxiety and irritability

Viagra (Sildenafil)

Viagra, which is used to treat erectile dysfunction in men, relaxes muscles and increases blood flow to particular areas.

Effects and dangers

Taking Viagra with a nitrate medicine can cause a sudden and serious decrease in blood pressure. Nitrate drugs include recreational pills such as amyl nitrite.

Amyl nitrite (Poppers)

Poppers are a nitrite-based drug. Amyl nitrite is used medically to ease chest pain caused by angina.

Effects and dangers

The effects, which are instantaneous and brief, but intense, are caused by a sudden surge of blood to the heart and brain.

Regular use can cause skin problems around the mouth and nose.

As poppers reduce blood pressure, they are dangerous for people with anaemia, glaucoma, breathing or heart problems, and may lead to heart attacks.

Poppers are inhaled and can be fatal if swallowed.

Sources: Central Narcotics Bureau, drugs.com, TheSite.org


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