The combination of negative attitudes toward drug use & gay sex and limited education about partying for healthcare providers creates a tricky dynamic for discussing PnP with your doctor. Below we’ll review some important points for having conversations about PnP with your doctor, and how to ideally have these conversations lead to meaningful support.
Remember, your doctor’s there to support YOU.
You have the right to access healthcare that’s meaningful and useful for you, regardless of what that might look like. The bottom line is, using drugs doesn’t make you any less deserving of affirming care, and you deserve the same level of support as someone who doesn’t use drugs. Remind yourself that using drugs is normal, and nothing to be ashamed of. Carry this energy into your appointments with your doctor, and keep your head held high – you’re gonna rock it.
It sucks, but the reality is, you might need to be the one doing the educating.
Doctors hold a ton of general knowledge about mental health, sexual health, and drug use. But the truth is, most doctors aren’t super educated about the specifics around PnP. Unfortunately, until things shift, you’ll likely need to be the one educating your doctor about what partying looks like, and how partying fits into your life.
Check out these tips for covering the basics with your doctor during your first couple of appointments:
On drugs: think about the drugs you tend to take when you’re partying, and about any challenges that come up with setting boundaries or when using these drugs.
Setting Boundaries & Managing Cravings
If you’re finding it challenging to set limits on how often you’re partying or how much you’re taking when you party, talk to your doctor about setting boundaries around how often and with which drugs you’re partying with. Check-in with them about any suggestions they might have about making changes to your partying, or managing cravings.
Discuss tips and tricks for partying safer – your doctor should have a good amount of knowledge about harm reduction, and how to use drugs as safely as possible. Ask questions about how certain drugs might impact your mood, and how to manage comedowns, for example. This might also represent an opportunity to chat about accessing harm reduction tools, such as pipes, needles, and outlets for safe drug supplies. Your doctor might not have these tools on hand, but they should have resources available for where to access partying supplies.
On sex: think about what your sex tends to look like, and how your doctor could best support the sex you want.
If you feel like you’d benefit from more regular testing, don’t be afraid to ask for monthly testing, for example. Also, let your doctor know which types of testing would be useful for you – some doctors often don’t order rectal or throat swabs, so if you’re bottoming/getting rimmed and giving head/rimming, be sure to have a chat with your doctor, and let them know that you’d benefit from rectal and throat swabbing alongside the usuals.
PrEP: Info & Access
If you’re not sure about whether PrEP could be a useful addition to your toolkit, have the conversation with your doctor, and ask them about what getting started on PrEP might look like. Your doctor should also have some knowledge about options for accessing funding support, and should have some ideas about where to access low-cost PrEP.
High, Horny, and Hard
If you find that getting and staying hard can be an issue, have a chat with your doctor about how other factors (e.g., your diet, alcohol, smoking, other medications) might be interfering. Remember, it’s normal to not always be rock hard, or to have issues with getting hard after a long day/night of partying. This can also be a chance for you to chat with your doctor about whether Viagra, and other boner pills are safe, and useful for you.
Remember, your doctor doesn’t only represent someone you can talk to about your partying when things go wrong.
Being open and honest about your partying from the get-go can enhance the care you receive, and help your doctor better understand your experiences. To best meet your needs, your doctor needs to understand your day-to-day life, and if partying is a part of that, don’t be afraid to share that with them. Remember, doing drugs doesn’t make you a bad person, or any less worthy of receiving care. It’s against ethical conduct for a doctor to report you, or to shame you for using drugs. Establishing that you use drugs from the get-go can help you receive meaningful care along the way, and have your doctor prepared to meet you where you’re at if your partying begins to change in any way.