Clubbers addicted to £1 sex party drug that’s powerful enough to melt plastic
Clubbers are becoming addicted to an industrial solvent party drug which can be bought for £1 – even though it is powerful enough to melt plastic.
The substance known as 'G' is being mixed into drinks at clubs and bars, often at huge doses.
Some revellers take the drug four or five times a day and say it "increases horniness" and "makes you very rampant".
Patrick Ettenes, 36, who took the drug regularly told Manchester Evening News : "The feeling is quite euphoric to be honest.
"It’s also a sex drug. It increases your horniness. Some people can’t control themselves – they become very rampant."
A millilitre of 'G' costs just £1 – and is more than enough to knock some people out cold.
'G' could be GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid) which was outlawed in 2003, or it could be its more easily available, even more dangerous relative, GBL (Gamma-butyrolactone), which was banned in 2005.
But these two substances have been linked to the deaths of more than 90 people between 1993 and 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Typically a odourless, colourless drug, 'G' is said to be particularly prevalent in and around Manchester.
But Patrick, a campaigner and lecturer, woke after a 'chemsex' party in the city after his drink was spiked. He had lost consciousness.
"They gave me a high amount, I remember someone getting on top of me and that was it," he says.
"I woke up on the floor with people stepping over me like I was a piece of paper. I just went home.
"It was at a time in my life when I was experimenting. A lot of people would say 'take it with me, you can trust me' and then they prey on you.
"I never spoke about it. If you’re offered a drink make sure you ask questions, make sure you see everything that is happening. People relinquish that control."
The law puts GHB/GBL in the least category of seriousness – Class C – and their effects last around an hour, but doses are difficult to judge – making it particularly easy to accidentally overdose.
Patrick added: "I did sex parties for a while and it’s very toxic. It’s just a room full of people with a lot of problems.
"You would have GBL and Mcat (mephedrone) and viagra. Some sex parties they won’t give anything to anyone after an hour. You have to be responsible.
"But the younger generation don’t understand that. Some people will go out in the Village – they’re drunk and horny and they will have G. You see them pass out or become violent and thrash about the place.
"I’ve heard stories where people have taken G, put it in ice cubes and freeze it to put in drinks to take advantage of people."
The problem, Patrick says, started when GHB became illegal and GBL – its stronger analogue – became more widely available.
"When people started taking that and drinking at the same time they were wiped out,” he says.
"GHB gives you a fluffy feeling whereas GBL hits you straight away.
"GHB is odourless and tasteless. It’s just salty. But GBL you can smell it because it’s like a paint stripper.
"If it doesn’t hit you straight away people will take another hit. Some people become very violent on it. It can cause psychosis and you lose consciousness and don’t remember anything.
"Weaning myself off it was very difficult," he says.
"I knew I had run away from a lot of things and I needed to understand why.
"One day I threw everything down the toilet and that was it. Sometimes it takes a lot of shit in your life to say 'f*** it.'
"It was not actually the drug it was feeling the numbness that I was addicted to,” he says. My addiction was to block out a lot of stuff in my mind. It kept me in the zone of being horny and it would block out the world.
"I think it was self-medicating."
Now parents of one victim – Paddy Bloor, a Sheffield University student who died after taking GHB last year at a 'chemsex' party, are campaigning for it to be included in routine toxicology screening, and for it to be reclassified as a Class A drug.
The 'chemsex' scene is associated with some gay men who use substances like crystal meth, mephedrone and GHB to have lengthy sex sessions. Hedonism for some, but for others a way to blot out feelings of depression, low self-esteem and loneliness.
But 'G' has had terrible consequences for people from all walks of life, re-emerging in different scenes over the last three decades.
In 2009, a former user from Crumpsall revealed how she had been admitted to hospital dozens of times – sometimes unconscious – after taking GBL. She told how her looks were ravaged by the drug, which was at that time still legal.
And, back in 1997, Andrea Murphy, 25, was found dead at her Wigan, Greater Manchester, home having taken a cocktail of amphetamines and GHB.
More recently, Kyle Burton, 22, from Partington, died after taking Ketamine, Mephedrone, Ecstasy and GHB at a party in Manchester.
Cases like Andrea's and Kyle's – where multiple drugs are involved – mean the true numbers of 'G'-related deaths are unknown, as it can be difficult to determine which drugs killed a person who has GHB or GBL in their system.
Duncan Craig, the CEO of Survivors – a charity which supports male victims of rape and sexual assault – says clients started to mention the drug to him around 2015.
"The first time as an organisation we came across it was when we were working with men who were at chemsex parties and GHB, crystal meth and mephedrone were being used," he says.
"Three or four clients in a short space of time were coming to get some support because they had been in a situation where they had used various different drugs, G being one of them, and they had lost some sort of awareness.
"They were not out cold but they really didn’t know what was going on. They were not with it.
"They had realised something had been happening to them. They had been raped to use the legal term. It was not a consensual activity."
Around that time the so-called ‘Grindr killer’ Stephen Port was given a life sentence for raping and murdering four young men in London who he had met on the dating app. Port used 'G' to render his victims unconscious.
Duncan says bosses across Manchester’s night time economy need to wake up to the potential dangers of GHB.
"It’s not just a chemsex drug. It feels like GHB is now just quite mainstream and nobody talks about it.”
In spite of these fears and the anecdotal picture, prosecutions for possessing and dealing 'G' in Greater Manchester are rare.
But Salford University lecturer Karenza Moore hopes to conduct research into substance use in Manchester. She has already researched the use of 'G' in London gay clubs.
She says use of the drug has migrated north, and that it's wrong to stereotype it as a gay problem.
"There are so many misconceptions about it," she says.
"It’s got this reputation as a date rape drug and is seen as a ‘gay drug’ so it has a reputation of being involved in the chemsex scene.
"But I think it’s being used in some student clubs. And Scotland had a problem in some of the estates because it’s so cheap. There are other groups of users.
"I think there’s a very hidden after-party scene. That’s one of the reasons it’s quite hard to research."
If you are a victim of rape – or know someone who is – you can call police on 101. Always dial 999 where there is a threat to life or a crime in progress.
Alternatively you can call the charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Men who have been raped or sexually assaulted can visit http://www.survivorsmanchester.org.uk for more information about how to seek support.
The LGBT Foundation provides advice for anyone who wants to inform themselves further about Chemsex, or needs support or assistance. Details are on their website here: https://lgbt.foundation/chemsex
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