The results of a study into chemsex in the UK illustrate the need for improved public education on the risks of gamma-hydoxybutyrate (GHB) use.

Chemsex involves people - primarily men who have sex with men – having sex while under the influence of psychoactive drugs. Public health experts state that the most prevalent drugs used during chemsex are GHB, mephedrone, and crystal methamphetamine. Among these, the study states, the most significant driver of acute harm is GHB - as overdosing on it can lead to respiratory depression, apnoea, entering a coma, and even death.

The study, published by Forensic Science International on December 5, was carried out by Imperial College London in response to a dearth of systematic analyses into the potential harms of chemsex and associated GHB use. Its main recommendations are that authorities should provide clearer information to the public on how to reduce the harms of GHB use, and for all cases of unexplained sudden death to involve routine testing for GHB.

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