July / August #83 : Habit Helpers - by Esther Kaplan

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Table of Contents

Once Upon A Time...

Young At Heartland

The Lying Game

Life vs. Meth

This Is Only a Test

Mbeki's 180

Spin Doctors

Soda Wars

Iran Runs

New Friend

Sex Crimes

Got Milk? Get Meds

Got His Goat

Monkey C

Mind Trip

Beach Reads

Memory Lane

Face the Music

Failure Is Sweet

Who Done It

Defensive Tackle

Under the Sun

Cave Kava

Relayed Reaction

Habit Helpers

Ticked & Stoned

Rated X5

Vax Populi

TB or Not TB

IV Leader

Flower Children


Drug Interactions

Dubya Trouble

Publisher's Letter


Reed Represents

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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July / August 2002

Habit Helpers

by Esther Kaplan

If you're a drug user with HIV, it's not easy to get the kind of care that you need-a doc whose aware of drug interactions, a support group that understands your adherence struggles, a hospital that will give you adequate pain meds.  Our northern neighbor's leading HIV agency, Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange, or CATIE, is about to publish pre+fix: harm reduction for positive users, a complete in-the-life guide to HIV drug users.  It will be available this fall www.catie.ca or by calling 416.203.7122 (free, but a small charge for shipping).  Check out this excerpt for a sense of that pre+fix flavor.


If you're using drugs, drinking alcohol regularly, or taking methadone while you're taking HIV meds, you need to know that sometimes there substances interact.  It can work both ways.  Drugs can make your HIV less effective.  Or your HIV meds can make you have a bad trip, on some drugs. Even worse, some HIV meds can increase the level of drugs or alcohol in your blood so much that you could overdose. This is why it's important to tell your doctor about all the drugs you are taking.  Here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of having a bad drug interaction:

  • Talk to your doctor or a pharmacist about the drugs you take, including methadone. He or she should be able to give you information about any potential drug interactions. Your doctor may recommend changing your HIV treatment.
  • Consider switching to drugs that appear to be safe with HIV treatment, such as marijuana.
  • If you use drugs after you begin HIV treatment, start slowly.  Just half of your usual hit may have the same effect that the full hit used to have. Take a small dose of your drug. Wait to see how you feel and how it affects you. Take more only if you need it.
  • Some HIV meds decrease the strength of methadone, which means you, could go into methadone withdrawal.  Check whether your methadone dose needs to be adjusted. Though not much is known about how HIV meds interact with drugs, alcohol, or methadone, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist about what is known so you can stay as healthy as possible.  Also, talk with other people with HIV who use drugs about their experiences and carefully monitor your

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