PnP (Party and Play)

PnP With Sex and Drugs — Popularity and Risks

Well dressed men hugging and drinking beer and cocktail
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PnP or party and play — also called "chemsex" in Great Britain — is a subculture of drug use that occurs while having sex. PnP has been widely associated with gay men and with men who have sex with other men, although it spans sexual preferences. The practice dates back to the seventies, but It has peaked since 2010 or so. Words spreads of various parties, or of interest in such parties or meet-ups, often through gay chat rooms and websites. PnP is more common in urban areas. It's been the subject of several documentaries, including one on Vice, and it played a role in London Spy, a BBC movie starring Ben Whishaw. 

How Does It Work? 

Users pick one or more "party drugs," most typically crystal meth. The "party" in the phrase means the drugs, and the "play" means sex. 

What's the Point?

Anyone who enjoys using drugs and who also enjoys sex — either with same-sex partners or heterosexually — will probably tell you that combining the two is a great experience. The addition of drugs often leads to prolonged sex, and it can prompts group sex. PnP provides a break from conventional sex and it's often be anonymous. Under the influence of some drugs, ejaculations are more powerful and sensation is dramatically heightened.

What Drugs Are Used?

Although crystal meth is the most common drug involved in PnP, Viagra has been used as well because of its effect on sexual stamina. Mephedrone, which goes by the street name "Meow Meow," is more common in the U.K. and is often used there, although it's not readily available in the U.S. Similar to meth, it's a stimulant that can bring on feelings of euphoria, and it can be purchased cheaply. Liquid ecstasy or GHB is also used. Stimulants keep a user alert, which partly contributes to prolonged sexual encounters. 

The Dangers of PnP  

The introduction of drug use to gay sex has been shown to increase the incidence of barebacking — having unprotected anal sex. Drugs can provide courage and the physical relaxation that's required for successful and enjoyable anal sex. But barebacking, particularly among strangers with unknown pasts and health histories, increases the risk for HIV infection. In fact, an increase in HIV rates among men has been correlated with a rise in meth use over the same period. There's no surefire proof that this is related to PnP, although PnP often combines meth and barebacking.

Of course, there's no rule that you can't wear a condom during a PnP experience, but safety might not be first and foremost in your mind when you're under the influence of drugs, even if you stashed some in your back pocket with the intention of absolutely no-matter-what using them.

Some drugs commonly used in PnP situations are highly addictive. What might begin as a one-time great sexual experience could evolve into a long-term issue if it leads to more and more experimentation and partying.