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I moved to London when I was 21. It was 1998. I grew up in Albania. I came to London for a better life, a different life. I wanted to explore what gay life was all about – it was a part of me that I’d had to bury while I was growing up. I wanted to escape the restrictions of life in Albania, I wanted to escape the restrictions of my family. Drugs weren’t a part of my life during those early years in London. After about five years, I went back to Albania for a couple of months. When I returned to London, my friends here had discovered ecstasy.

I tried ecstasy for the first time in 2004. I was out with my friends in Brixton. Everyone was high. One of my friends gave me an ecstasy pill. I’d never experienced anything like it. As the pill hit, the song that was playing was ‘Put ‘Em High’ by Stonebridge. Whenever I hear that song, even today, I feel the memory of that first high – I feel the rush.

Drugs just became part of a night out – ecstasy and ketamine. They were party drugs. In 2006, I started taking GHB. It was a game-changer. GHB gave me an incredible sense of freedom – the freedom to be myself, with no inhibitions. I had boyfriends. My relationships were all centred around going out, partying, taking drugs – mostly G, and a lot of cocaine. In 2011, I was introduced to Mephedrone. The drug-use got more intense, it was darker. I couldn’t sleep. I wanted sex all of the time. That was the beginning of seven years of hell.

I was in a relationship. We were using a lot of drugs and it was fairly toxic. The relationship ended sometime in 2012, but I kept using drugs. Around that time, hook-up apps emerged. Everything started to change. I became obsessive. I wanted everything, all of the time. To party, we used to go out dancing. Now, it was all house parties. I was spending hours and hours on the hook-up apps. I would take drugs all weekend – then, instead of sleeping, I would go to work. Crystal meth became the main drug that I was using. By this point, I wasn’t able to have sex without drugs. I had a bit of a phobia about needles, but in 2015 I began injecting crystal meth. A guy that I was using with was a nurse. He showed me how to inject. Once I’d tried that, there was no turning back. I felt like I was in control, but I wasn’t.

Looking back, those years seem incredibly dark. You would end up at other people’s homes, surrounded by other users. You could see what people were going through. There were so many lonely souls, so many lost souls. We were all blaming others for our problems – hating everything, hating life, complaining about everything. Lots of gay men go through trauma in their lives – drugs can feel like a way to find freedom and lose your inhibitions. We see the drugs as a way to find intimacy, to find love, but it’s so damaging.

In 2017, I had something like a psychotic episode – I stabbed my arms with a needle and made myself bleed so much that I had to go to hospital. That kind of freaked me out – it resurfaced my phobia of needles. That episode helped me to stop injecting crystal meth but I was still using drugs.

I knew that I had to somehow break my dependence on the drugs. I was miserable. I couldn’t have sex without the drugs but I wasn’t getting any joy or pleasure from the sex that I was having. I was consumed by fear and shame. I started chatting to this guy on an app. We’ll call him Hamza. We chatted for a few months before we eventually met up – I knew that he used chems and I’d told him that I was trying to stay sober. We arranged to meet and hang out in a park – we were both sober. It felt like a really great connection. A few weeks later, I was having a birthday party – my 42nd birthday. I invited Hamza.

I wanted to have sex with Hamza, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it without the drugs. I got some crystal meth and arranged with him that he and I would go back to my place after the birthday party. We went home together but it was a disaster. The sex was bad and then he left. I was left alone and it was the most horrible few hours of my life. Everything shattered – I was overwhelmed with shame, everything felt exposed, I felt humiliated. I’d never felt as lonely and lost as at that moment. It’s taken a fair bit of therapy to try and process that moment of despair, but it seems clear that my shame and humiliation is rooted in my earlier trauma. When I was younger, there was a boy from school that I was in love with. Nothing happened for years, but one night he slept over at my house and we had sex – it was so beautiful and we had such great chemistry. The next morning, he got up – leaving me alone in the bed. He went to school and told everyone that I’d tried to have sex with him. I was humiliated. That’s the trauma that resurfaced when Hamza left me on my 42nd birthday.

Since then, I’ve tried a lot of different things to try and get my life back on track. I’ve tried an Ayahuasca retreat – that was interesting. A friend suggested that I go and see David Stuart at 56 Dean Street. David suggested that I give therapy a try. I probably wasn’t ready for it, I was still occasionally using crystal meth – it was the only way I could get any sort of intimacy.


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Around September 2020, I came into contact with Ignacio at Controlling Chemsex. Ignacio connected me with a psychotherapist who has helped me to identify and unlock some of the trauma I was struggling with. Ignacio also suggested a massage exchange website to me. That was very successful! I arranged to meet up with a guy for a massage exchange, and we ended up having sex. It was probably the first time that I’d had sober sex for nearly 10 years!

I’m in recovery. I’m recovering but I’m still struggling. My most recent relapse was a few months ago. I was chatting to this gorgeous Spanish guy on an app. He invited me to go to his place after work. I was looking forward to some sober sex – because I could do it now. When I got there, he was already high – I could see the drugs. The temptation was too much to resist. I was disappointed with myself but I knew that I couldn’t go back into the darkness that I’d worked so hard to leave behind. I got back in touch with Ignacio at Controlling Chemsex.

I’m continuing to do the work I need to do on myself in order to keep my recovery on track.

Free and confidential chemsex support is available to help you take back control – contact Controlling Chemsex for one-to-one advice and guidance.