Smoking, Drugs & Alcohol

Help with Smoking, Drugs & Alcohol

With modern HIV treatments, PLHIV are living long, healthy lives. The overuse of smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs can affect your long term quality of life.

Smoking Drugs Alcohol

Smoking & HIV

Even though smoking rates within the PLHIV are decreasing, they are still quite high when compared to the general population. There have been many campaigns that mention the harmful effects of smoking – some of which you have probably heard of. These range from lung cancer to emphysema and even heart attacks. 

Quitting smoking might not be easy, but it is a major step towards better physical and mental health. QPP offers support that may be helpful on your quitting journey.  Reach out for support and we can point in the right direction or talk to your doctor for help.

A helpful resource is QUIT HQ by Queensland Health. This campaign is a one-stop-shop for smoking cessation information and aims to support/empower Queenslanders to quit smoking for good. It includes quit smoking materials, resources, interactive tools, videos, programs and stakeholder information, all in one location.

Whether you quit, or not, you are still successful. 

Drug Use & HIV

For some people, drugs may bring pleasure and heightened experiences, but most of these substances can also interact negatively with your HIV treatments.

Whilst  drugs  may  impact  HIV,  they  can  also  negatively  impact  other  aspects  of  life.  For example, mental health, work, relationships, etc.  Reaching out for support is essential in minimising the negative impacts.

In Queensland, QuIHN provide a number of health services and support for people who use drugs.  We encourage you to contact them or us if you need a little help.

Alcohol & HIV

Alcohol is a part of life for many people, and in moderation, it is not a major risk to health and wellbeing. However, alcohol can be harmful when people drink in excess (binge drinking) or continuously over an extended period of time. For people with HIV, it is important to limit alcohol consumption as higher alcohol consumption can weaken parts of the immune system and can affect how regularly we take our HIV medications.

The Guidelines recommend:

  • No more than ten (10) standard drinks per week, to reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury; and
  • No more than four (4) standard drinks on any one day, to reduce the risk of alcohol -related injury arising from that occasion.
  • You shouldn’t drink if you are pregnant. Try to limit your intake when you are trying to fall pregnant or breastfeeding.

It is possible to drink at a level that is less risky, while still having fun and relaxing, such as:

  • Starting with non-alcoholic drinks and having these between alcoholic drinks (to quench your thirst, since alcohol can be dehydrating).
  • Drink alcohol slowly.
  • Do not mix alcohol with other drugs, as this can also cause heightened reactions you might not want. You should also avoid taking medicines with alcohol or other drugs (due to the risks of drug interactions).
  • Eat before and while you are drinking – especially before which helps lower your blood alcohol concentration.
  • It’s best not to drink every day. Having regular alcohol-free days further reduces the lifetime risk of alcohol related disease or injury.  Days off from alcohol also help reduce the negative effects of alcohol on your liver (alcohol is a poison to the liver) – this is additionally important if you have Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, so follow your doctor’s advice if he/she has given any additional advice about alcohol limits for your individual health situation.

Mental Health

It is not uncommon for people to experience unhappiness, distress, anxiety or depression at some point, but there are a lot of other things you can do to look after your mental health and wellbeing.

Sexual Health

Regular STI testing is the best way to identify if you have contracted an STI, and is particularly important if you are sexually active.

Social Connection

Spending time with friends and family, and spending time in group and community activities improves mental and general health. QPP even has social groups that you can join and meet new people.

Oral Health

Poor oral health can affect both physical and emotional well-being, and can also be a contributing factor to a number of secondary health conditions. 

Our trained team is here to help you should you have any questions or need support. You can contact QPP toll free from a Queensland land-line on 1800 636 241 or (07) 3013 5555 nationally, email us at or use our contact us form.

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