Interaction of chems and HIV medication

Interaction of chems and HIV medication

Chems seem to have relatively little negative impact on the effect of your HIV medication. There are a few exceptions to this. Using chems can also cause you to forget to take your daily medication.


here may be interactions between HIV inhibitors and drugs, including ecstasy, speed, amphetamines, methadone and opiates. The effect of this interaction can go two ways: the HIV inhibitor affects the effect or side effects of the chem(s), or the chem(s) affects the effect or side effects of the HIV inhibitor. Known so far:  


  • Some HIV inhibitors amplify the effect of specific chems, increasing the risk of overdose. For example, ritonavir can amplify the effects of ecstasy and MDMA. Some people with HIV have died from an MDMA overdose while using only an average dose.


  • Some HIV inhibitors reduce the effect of methadone.


  • Many HIV inhibitors increase the side effects of certain sleep aids and anxiety and panic disorder medication.


  • There appear to be no interactions between cannabis and HIV inhibitors.


  • There is an interaction between alcohol and abacavir. Alcohol increases the effect of abacavir. This interaction is not serious with moderate alcohol consumption.


  • HIV inhibitors known to amplify chems are Efavirenz (combination pill Atripla) and the “boosters” Norvir (ritonavir) and Cobicistat. Cobicistat is used in the combination pill Stribild. Reduce your dose of chems if you use these HIV inhibitors, or ask your HIV counsellor to switch because you use chems and want to avoid overdosing.


  • To avoid unwanted interactions, it is important to tell your HIV treatment provider what chems and medications you are taking in addition to the HIV inhibitors.