"HARNESS" column - February 2005
"Social" Drugs and SM
"You've mentioned several times that you don't think people should do SM play if they've taken social/ party drugs. But many people combine the two and claim to have a lot of fun without bad side effects. Aren't you being unrealistic?"
Aside from the usual reasons why it's a bad idea to take drugs, (they're illegal, can be highly addictive and research shows people who take drugs are more likely to have unsafe sex), here are some other general points to consider about acquiring drugs for social occasions:
- No party drug will have the same reaction twice. You may have taken a particular drug before and know what effect you are looking for, but the result is not guaranteed to be the same since the mixture that has gone in to make that drug is never constant. Nor can you assume the potency (the strength of the drug) will ever be the same.
- Your experience of a particular drug will not be the same as everyone else's. Do not assume that because YOU experience certain effects from a particular party drug, other people taking that drug will experience the same effect. There are many well documented cases of two people sharing a drug at a party and having totally opposite effects. (One flying off the wall having a great time, the other flying off to hospital in a drug induced crisis.)
- Market forces have a lot to do with drug manufacture, and thus a lot to do with the strength of the mixture. You never know what a drug has been cut with in order to make it marketable.
Having said that, there are particular combinations of drugs and SM scenes which can have very serious consequences indeed. Here are just three examples, although there are many more:
- Ecstasy and Mummification
Ecstasy (also known as "E" or "X") increases heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure. It also inhibits the brain's ability to monitor serotonin levels in the body, so the brain has no way of knowing how hot the body is. If someone is in a mummification scene they will be wrapped in something like plastic film, latex, bandages or plaster of paris. The body will sweat, since it cannot naturally cool down. Since the brain is unable to monitor correctly know how hot the body is getting, dehydration can set in quite quickly. Because your state of mind is altered through the use of ecstasy, you do not notice that you are getting hot and losing water. Significant dehydration is very possible and must be corrected in a controlled environment - if you ingest water too quickly you will cause the body to flood and you can die. There have been several high profile documented cases of this occurring both in the UK and in Australia.
- Ketamine and Fisting
Ketamine's (or "K") only legitimate use is as a veterinary aesthetic or animal tranquilliser. Small doses block the body's pain response, leaving the bottom unaware if injury has been caused. It is possible for someone to take "K", enjoy a fisting scene as the bottom and receive great internal damage without being aware that anything is wrong. At larger doses ketamine can cause a dissociation of the mind from the body (sometimes called a "K-Hole"). The person may hallucinate and feel as through they have entered another reality. The drug blocks all sensory input to the brain, so the brain fills in the spaces. If something has gone wrong during the scene the injured party may suffer from amnesia and hallucinations, making recollection of what went on almost impossible.
- Viagra or Poppers and Breath Control
Viagra and poppers (also known as "Amyl") both lower your blood pressure, and if taken together can cause dangerous hypotension (low blood pressure). However, any breath control scenes which cause pressure on the neck can stimulate the carotid sinus - also leading to a fall in arterial blood pressure. Combining any kind of breath control with viagra or poppers can be a deadly combination.
Regarding the second part of the question about many people taking drugs without bad side effects: it is something of a lottery. Some people can smoke 60 cigarettes a day and live to 100 years old, but someone else may only smoke a few cigarettes a day and get lung cancer at 30. How much of a risk do you want to take? Remember that the particular circumstances of SM play make the odds worse.
You need to be extra careful as an SM Top to check what the bottom may have taken before you start playing. Be aware that they may lie about what drugs they've consumed, especially if they think you would disappove. However, it's in your interest to find out the truth. If they have a bad reaction during the scene and end up needing hospital treatment YOU will be the one that has to answer charges of assault if the police get involved.
My thanks to Dominic Herne, who worked with the Sydney Mardi Gras Medical Unit for 18 years, for his help with this answer.
Have fun, and look after yourselves and the people you play with.
International Mr Leather 2003