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Drug Use ?

What is drug use?

Cocaine in powder  and liquid form with a syringe

People take drugs illegally for the pleasurable effects. Illegal drug use includes use of street drugs like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine, and nonmedical use of prescription drugs. This website describes the common and street names of many abused drugs, how they're taken, and their potentially harmful health effects.

What we know about drug use:

Using drugs can cause you to do things that increase your risk of getting or transmitting HIV. Drugs like methamphetamine, poppers, and ecstasy, for example, are linked to having more sexual partners or sex without a condom, both of which increase your chances of getting or transmitting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). And someone who injects drugs is at risk for getting or transmitting HIV and hepatitis B and C if they share needles or equipment (or "works") used to prepare drugs, like cotton, cookers, and water, because they may contain blood that is infected with HIV. + +

About 1 out of every 10 HIV infections (or 10%) in the United States is from injection drug use. The chance that an HIV-negative person will get HIV each time that person injects drugs and shares injection equipment, such as needles, with an HIV-positive person is 63 out of 10,000 exposures.

Hepatitis C is a virus that infects the liver. Many people with hepatitis C don't know they have it because they don't feel sick. Even if you don't feel sick, you can transmit the virus to others. The only way to know for sure if you have hepatitis C is to get tested. Your health care provider will recommend getting tested if you inject drugs or have other risk factors. If you don't have a health care provider, click here to find contact information for your local health department.

There are medicines to treat hepatitis C, but they aren't right for everyone. There's no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. Talk to your health care provider to learn more about hepatitis C.

Some people think that using prescription drugs to get high is safer and less addictive than street drugs, but that's not true. Any form of illegal drug use can lead to abuse and dependence and cause serious and potentially life-threatening side effects or even death.

What you can do

Therapy, medicines, and other methods are available to help you stop or cut down on using drugs. Talk with a counselor, doctor, or other health care provider about options that might be right for you. +

To find a substance abuse treatment center near you, check out the locator tools on SAMHSA.gov or AIDS.gov. Through the AIDS.gov locator, you can also find mental health service providers, HIV testing sites, housing assistance, family planning services, and health centers near you.

If you're going to a party or another place where you know you'll use drugs, you can bring a condom with you to reduce your risk if you have vaginal or anal sex. + Here are some tips on how to use a condom. Or you can consider having other types of sex that are lower risk for HIV such as oral sex. +

Learn how to talk to your partner about using condoms. Here are some tips to help start the conversation.

If you inject drugs, talk to a health care provider to see if taking medicines daily to help prevent HIV infection (pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP) is right for you.