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Safe Using and COVID-19

Using drugs or alcohol? Harm reduction advice and Covid 19

As we all prepare for huge changes in social contact and behaviours, the Matthew Project felt it was important to ensure everyone who uses substances or drinks alcohol has some proper advice to help reduce the risks associated with Coronavirus.

First and foremost please follow the NHS guidance in the link below.

  • Self-isolate for 7 days if you have any of the symptoms – a new persistent cough and/or a fever and call NHS 111.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus

  • Only travel on public transport if you need to

  • Avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, and cinemas etc.

General health

Sleep, good nutrition and drinking water all help to boost the immune system.

Drugs and alcohol actually suppresses your immune system. You may have noticed that you get more colds or are unwell when you’ve used drugs or over indulged in drinking.

This is particularly important at the moment as your immune system is integral to fighting infection and disease.

Our advice is to consider cutting back or stopping. We can support young people with this – contact us at [email protected] or call the advice line 0800 970 4866 for phone support.

Over 19’s should contact CGL for support on 01603 514096

If you do decide to use substances please consider the following measures to reduce the risks, and keep you, your friends, and other vulnerable people safe.


  • Covid-19 is spread through saliva, touching hard surfaces with droplets from coughing/sneezing and touching your face. We advise you to avoid sharing joints, bongs, cigarettes etc.

  • Smoking affects your lungs, and both tobacco and cannabis contain tar and other carcinogens. As Covid-19 affects breathing and lung function, we advise you to limit use to essential or abstain completely.

  • Social distancing means staying at least two metres away from other people to reduce infection. This will affect the way you socialise when smoking cannabis. We suggest this is the time to consider cutting back rather than smoking it alone, especially if you do not do that already.

  • Remember to cough into a tissue or elbow and discard the tissue safely into a bin. Avoid coughing into your hands.


  • Covid -19 is spread through saliva, touching hard surfaces with droplets from coughing/sneezing and touching your face. We advise you to avoid sharing bottles, cups and glasses.

  • Alcohol inhibits behaviour due to feeling more relaxed. You may make decisions that are unsafe with regard to infection risk. These include unsafe sex, lack of social distancing or use of other drugs.

  • If you drink alcohol, consider if you are in the safest place to do so, if there are vulnerable people around you, and what measure you can take to ensure social distancing.

  • Alcohol poisoning happens when the drinkers’ body cannot cope with the amount of alcohol in the system. We recommend sticking to guidelines of 2 units a day or 14 units a week.

  • Drinking alcohol does not kill Coronavirus. The alcohol in hand sanitiser is not for drinking – it is harmful to ingest this.


  • Normal harm reduction advice is to never share snorting equipment. This is to reduce the chance of contracting other viruses such as Hepatitis B and C, and to avoid passing flu or colds between users. It is even more important to follow this advice now. See above for help with stopping use.

  • Cocaine or any other drugs do not Kill Coronavirus.


People who use opioids or inject drugs are at greater risk.

  • Please follow the usual harm reduction advice if you choose to inject substances. This includes keeping all preparation areas clean and do not share preparation equipment or injecting equipment.

Stay safe.


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