Active use

People who use street drugs usually don’t get enough nutrition(macronutrients or micronutrients). In HIV-positive users, problems with nutrition, such as wasting, may be driven more by drug use than HIV status. Some people who regularly use substances such as heroin,cocaine, crack and crystal methamphetamine don’t have a regular place to live and may find it hard to get food and to get the care they need for their health problems. And when it comes time to decide how to spend limited money, food is often a low priority. The downside is that malnutrition, HIV infection and addiction together place HIV-positive drug users at high risk of becoming sick and needing to go to the hospital. Eating better may help you stay healthier while you are using. 

Maintaining nutritional health while actively using

  1. Drink high-calorie fluids like meal replacement drinks, milkshakes, chocolate milk, fortified malted drinks or soy milk.
  2. Take a daily multivitamin-mineral supplement.
  3. Eat as well as you can when you’re not high.
  4. Find out about food programs in your neighbourhood.
  5. Try to purchase some groceries that last a long time. Stock up on peanut butter, oatmeal, powdered milk and canned stews and soups before spending money on drugs.


When people begin to detox from active use, they often feel sick to their stomach or throw up and can find it impossible to eat certain foods. During this time it is important to drink enough fluids and to eat bland, low-fat foods that are easy to digest. Remember that detoxification is just a phase. It may last from a few days to a few weeks, but it will pass. And it is an important first step.

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