If you do not have drugs in your body, your treatment should be able to proceed smoothly. However, it is important to tell your doctor about any past drug use—even if it was just for a short period of time. Those who have used drugs in the past may be at an increased risk to abuse drugs related to cancer treatment and your doctor will want to monitor you to make sure that doesn’t happen.
All drugs have the potential to interfere with your cancer treatment. This includes but is not limited to marijuana, hallucinogens, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, anabolic steroids, inhalants, methamphetamine, and tobacco. If you have taken any drugs in the past or currently take drugs—even if it’s only every now and then—it is important that you tell your doctor or nurse. Not telling them is very risky. The drugs can change the chemistry of the cancer treatment and make it less effective or too toxic.
In addition to illegal drugs, you should not take prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicines (medicines you can buy at the store) during your treatment unless your doctor has approved the medication and the dosage. Using unapproved drugs or medications can decrease the success of your treatment and make it more difficult for you to beat cancer. Plus, when you take illegal or prescription drugs purchased “off the streets” you never really know what you are putting into your body.
Using illegal drugs, consuming alcohol or taking legal drugs not recommended by your oncologist can interfere with your cancer treatment and further damage your health. Drug use prevents even cancer-free bodies from being healthy and once you add cancer to your life, your body is really fighting to get healthy. Using drugs makes your body’s job of getting healthy even harder. For your cancer treatment to be the most effective, your body needs to be as strong as possible.
It has been shown that misusing illegal drug and alcohol can also interfere with the actual anticancer therapy drugs. This can result in you not being able to receive your cancer treatments or cause you to become even sicker.
Getting the news that you have cancer can be really hard. You probably feel confused, angry, and overwhelmed with questions. Your emotional and physical pain may cause you to want to turn to a drug you’ve never taken before, return to a drug you used to take or cause you to continue using a drug that you’ve been taking. While you may want to give in to drugs for relief or escape, it’s important that you stay as healthy as possible during this time and avoid drug use. Below are some of the most common questions our patients ask about using drugs while undergoing cancer treatment.