Alcohol and drugs

Alcohol and most drugs help many people loosen up and feel more relaxed. They can increase your sex drive and make you less inhibited. You can feel much freer to surrender to your fantasies. Other people don’t need alcohol and drugs for that, and some may even find themselves inhibited by them. Most drugs will make it harder for a man to get an erection, so many men will also take an ‘erection pill’ (medication for erectile dysfunction) along with whatever else they take. With most drugs, if you use them with moderation, they can help stimulate you. If you use too much of one drug or if you use more than one drug at the same time, things can go wrong. For example some people end up having unprotected sex while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and afterwards they become terribly conflicted: do I need to tell him or her now about my HIV? For many people, alcohol and sex often go together. Gays in particular often use harder drugs in connection with sex. You can find information in Dutch about the use of alcohol and drugs – apart from HIV – on

Alcohol and drugs that are legally available have the least amount of risk when used moderately, because you can be fairly certain about what you are getting (for example how much alcohol there is in your drink) and because a lot is already known about possible interactions with medicines. There are also illegal versions of some otherwise legally available drugs. With those, however, you don’t know what you are actually getting. The third category consists of drugs that are not legally available in any form. Those are the most risky drugs, for example because they can vary in strength. You also don’t know what kinds of substances they might contain; having them checked for quality will not give you any certainty, since the test only measures how much of a particular substance is present in the drug, not anything else it might contain.

Things to think about

  • There are interactions between HIV medicines and certain drugs. Known interactions are listed on this website. But there are also many drugs of which it is not yet known whether or not they interact with HIV medicines.
  • Alcohol and drugs can lead you to behave differently from how you were planning to behave. They can influence your behaviour such that you might run even more of a risk of getting or passing on HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Alcohol and drugs can influence your experience of time, which could lead you to forget to take your HIV medications on time.

Here you can read about the experiences that people with HIV have had with drugs, as well as what two HIV nurses have to say about drugs.




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