Recreational drugs

The liver is the organ that processes most recreational drugs. 

Some are more toxic than others, but all will stress your liver to some extent. 

Street drugs are also likely to contain impurities and other ingredients that can be toxic. In general, injecting drugs is more dangerous than snorting or swallowing them, because injecting goes directly into the bloodstream, bypasses the filtering system of the stomach.

If you are injecting drugs, using sterile equipment (syringe, cooker, filter, water, tie and measuring syringe) will protect you from HCV and other infections.

You may want to consider reducing your intake of recreational drugs, or stopping. If so, there are places where you can get help.

Some recreational drugs may have interactions with HIV drugs.

For more information see: and

And the report Delivering HIV care and treatment for people who use drugs.

Support organisations

National Drugs Helpline 0800 776600 (24 hrs)

Narcotics Anonymous 0845 3733366 (24 hrs)

Cocaine Anonymous 0800 6120225 (10am-10pm)

Drugscope 0870 7743 682 (10am – 1pm, Mon-Fri)

Antidote is a drug and alcohol service for lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people, based in London with a national phoneline. 020 7833 1674 (10am-6pm, Monday to Friday). London Friend websiteAntidote on FaceBook.

Other sources of direct help or information for other organisations include your GP, your local Drug and Alcohol Service, your HIV specialist and your HCV specialist.

Last updated: 17 August 2017.