Chemical sex (chemsex) in a population of French university students

Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2022 Jun 1;23(1):39-43. doi: 10.1080/19585969.2022.2042163. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: Chemsex is defined by the use of psychoactive substances to facilitate or improve sexual relations. Our objectives were to assess the prevalence of the practice of 'chemsex' in a population of French university students and to identify socio-demographic and clinical factors associated with this practice.

Material and methods: We have used an anonymous online questionnaire comprising 15 questions on socio-demographic characteristics, chemsex use, sexual satisfaction, the type of substances used in this sexual context and their route of administration.

Results: A total of 680 people were included in our study. Among them, 22.5% reported chemsex behaviour in the past year. Using a multivariate analysis, factors associated with chemsex were dating application use (p = 0.049) and pornography use [viewing more than once per month (p = 0.002)]. Having a sexual partner involved in chemsex (p < 0.0001), celibacy (p = 0.007), sexual orientations other than heterosexual (p = 0.0013) and especially bisexuality (p = 0.0002) were also significantly associated with chemsex.

Conclusion: This is the first study reporting a high prevalence of chemsex in a university student population. Further larger studies should be conducted to confirm these results showing a high prevalence of this at-risk behaviour.

Keywords: Chemsex; addiction; chemical sex; party and play; sexualised drugs; university students.

MeSH terms

  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Prevalence
  • Psychotropic Drugs* / administration & dosage
  • Sexual Behavior* / drug effects
  • Sexuality / drug effects
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Universities / statistics & numerical data


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Psychotropic Drugs