Alcohol, Smoking, Drugs and Sexual Health

This site is intended for healthcare professionals as a useful source of information on the diagnosis, treatment and support of patients with lupus and related connective tissue diseases.


Alcohol makes your liver more sensitive to the effect of some medicines you may be taking and ideally you should not drink alcohol while taking them. If you are old enough, an occasional alcoholic drink is not harmful. Excessive regular alcohol and binge drinking should be avoided. And REMEMBER - 1 unit of alcohol is equivalent to a half pint of normal strength lager (approx 3.5%), or a small glass of wine. Most Alco-pops are 1.7 units per bottle!! For more information please check out:


As lupus can affect the blood vessels, if is even more important for young people with lupus not to smoke as tobacco also damages blood vessels - as well as staining your teeth, giving you bad breath, dry skin and making you short of breath! To find out more about smoking and/or help in stopping, talk to your GP or one of the hospital team or check out


Whether you are thinking about using drugs yourself or know someone else who is using them - it's a good idea to know the facts. Some drugs are more dangerous than others, are highly addictive and can cause serious health problems. You can also die from an overdose or the effects of drugs. Drugs are also illegal.

If you want to know more about drugs and their effects, or if you are worried about a friend or relative who may be using drugs, visit or ask one of the people looking after you for more information.

Sexual health

When any young person is considering becoming sexually active (male or female), it is important to know how to keep yourself and others safe. If you are having sex, it is important always to use a condom. As well as helping to prevent pregnancy, these can protect you and your partner against sexually transmitted infections including: Chlamydia, HIV, syphilis and gonorrhoea.

Some of the drugs used to treat lupus can possibly affect an unborn baby. It is therefore important for sexually active young people to use effective contraception (male and females) whilst taking some of these medicines and for up to 6 months after it has been stopped. Your lupus and/or medication can affect the choice of contraception suitable for you so you should discuss this with your doctor.

Your medical team are always willing to listen to any concerns you have relating to your sexual health, and give helpful advice. Don't be afraid to ask.

For further information about sexual health and young people check out some of the following websites:;