SDF and Terrence Higgins Trust launch training course for frontline staff on chemsex in Scotland

27th October 2020

A new half-day training course on understanding chemsex is available to book for frontline staff working in services in Scotland.

Chemsex describes the behaviour of engaging in sexual activity while under the influence of drugs, such as methamphetamine or mephedrone, and typically involves several participants.

The free course, co-facilitated by Scottish Drugs Forum and Terrence Higgins Trust, aims to improve the knowledge of those who work with people who may engage in chemsex, particularly those who work in sexual health, drug, LGBTQ+ and mental health services.

Two sessions are currently scheduled for the 16th of November and 14th of December 2020.

Lesley Bon, SDF’s Sexual Health, Blood Borne Virus and Harm Reduction Training Officer, said:

“Chemsex is a growing issue in Scotland, particularly amongst communities of men who have sex with men, and services across the spectrum need to be equipped with the knowledge and understanding required to support those who seek help for any number of issues related to the activity.

“Although traditionally sexual health and substance use services have been viewed in isolation, supporting those who engage in chemsex requires knowledge of both fields to ensure the best possible outcomes for the individual.

“This new course, facilitated by SDF and Terrence Higgins Trust, provides an opportunity to bring these areas together in a succinct half-day session.”

Stephen Vargas, Terrence Higgins Trust, said:

“We have developed this new course as more service users have been mentioning chemsex in passing. There is now a need for front line workers to have the knowledge to ask a few questions and to find any issues.

“This course enables participants to look past what we think we know about taking drugs in regard to sex. Sexual health and substance use have been viewed separately but chemsex combines the two and sometimes needs a very different approach to engage with clients.

“With this half day course, we hope to open up the door to what chemsex is in Scotland and enable staff to support clients who are part of the chemsex environment.”

The content of the course has been informed by recently published research carried out by SDF, which sought to identify specific risks and information needs of particular ‘at-risk’ groups – including people who engage in chemsex –  and ascertain training needs of frontline staff.

By the end of the training, which will be delivered online, participants will be able to:

– Describe the context of chemsex in Scotland
– Reflect on how individual attitudes and beliefs can impact on clients and the services they receive.
– Explore ways of engaging clients in discussing chemsex
– Identify key strategies to reduce harm in those who participate in chemsex

Select a date to register a place: 16th of November / 14th of December 2020.

All SDF training courses can be booked through our training website at

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