HIV and Partying

Many recreational drugs can become complicated or even dangerous when combined with HIV medications, or other medications that affect blood pressure, or help regulate mood, such as antidepressants. Each of the various drug pages on this site provides a section on which HIV medications are known to interact with that specific party drug.

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Hep C can be transmitted by sharing injection drug gear, which can cause a lot of trouble if you are HIV positive. To learn more about reducing Hep C transmission, check out:

Be careful if you are take protease inhibitor (PIs) medications. PIs often affect the levels of other drugs in the bloodstream and body, which can make you have more of a substance in your system than you.

When you begin treatment, you may find you need less of a party drug, or even alcohol, to achieve the same effect as you did before starting treatment. On the plus side, you may need to spend less money to get high or drunk. Be careful and start low and go slow, when you start using substances after beginning HIV treatment.

Some specific drug interactions that we know about include:

  • MDMA and crystal meth may reach dangerous levels in the body in combination with PIs. They may also cause lasting damage to important chemicals in the brain, causing hard-to-treat depression.
  • Erectile Drugs in combination with PIs can cause heart problems. Adding Poppers to this mixed puts even more strain on your heart.
  • Opiates: older HIV meds like nevirapine (Viramune) and efavirenz (Sustiva) when using heroin, oxy or other opiates, can lower the amount of opiate in your blood, possibly causing involuntary withdrawal.
  • Cocaine has almost no interactions with HIV meds. However it can make you forget to take your HIV meds which may cause viral load to fluctuate.
  • Crystal meth also can affect whether or not you remember to take your HIV meds. When partying on stimulants, make sure you have a plan to help you remember to take your meds, including plans for eating for meds which need to be taken with food. The toxic ingredients in meth, combined with lack of sleeping, have an impact on viral load and can cause it to increase.
  • Alcohol in heavy doses, over a longer term of use can damage the liver and pancreas. HIV meds can also be hard on the liver and pancreas. Heavy alcohol use can contribute to liver damage, cirrhosis and pancreatitis.
  • Cannabis can be medicinal and prescribed if you are HIV positive. Regular smoking causes lung damage and can, over the long term, cause cancer. Get a vaporiser or eating cannabis, especially if you are use it regularly.

For more information on helping you take your HIV meds regularly, check out CATIEs’ FAQ on “Adherance“.