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Illicit and Recreational Drugs

There’s not a lot known about how HIV treatments interact with illicit or recreational drugs, though this is changing.

It is known that Ritonavir may cause dangerous, even fatal interactions with ecstasy, crystal/ice and other types of amphetamines. If you are taking ritonavir and intend to use recreational drugs, make sure you start with only a small amounts (e.g. a quarter of a typical dose.

Elvitegravir and Cobicistat may also increase amphetamine levels in the blood.

Although it is not recommended or advised that recreational drugs be consumed, if you do take recreational drugs, there are some common precautions you could follow:

  • Avoid taking HIV drugs and other drugs at exactly the same time: wait at least a couple of hours between doses
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Start with a smaller amount of any illicit drug and monitor any unusual responses
  • Seek emergency medical help if you experience dizziness, sudden drowsiness, blurred vision, heart palpitations, vomiting or any other severe or unexpected effect; and
  • Methamphetamines and ecstasy can often cause loss of appetite and even make eating difficult, which can be a problem for people who need to take their HIV medications with food

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This page was published on 19 September, 2011

This page was reviewed on 23 December 2015