Real Teens Ask: Can Drugs Give You Viruses?

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A girl and a boy sitting on a couch. The girl is holding a red cup.

Image Courtesy of Kenneth B. Moore

At NIDA's last Drug Facts Chat Day, Razorfang asked this question:

"can you get viruses from drugs?"

The answer to this might surprise you. Although you can't get viruses directly from drugs, using drugs can increase your chances of catching a virus like HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). In fact, behaviors associated with drug abuse are one of the biggest factors in the spread of HIV across the US.

That's because drugs can mess up your judgment and lead to bad decisions—bad decisions like unsafe sex. And risky sex can lead to more than pregnancy. It can also lead to becoming infected with HIV or other sexually transmitted viruses.

The bottom line is that avoiding drugs and alcohol can help keep teens safe from HIV. Learn more about the link between drug abuse and HIV. You can also find out more about youth and HIV at

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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