Co-occurring addiction and HIV/AIDs is a tragically common phenomenon and a pervasive public health issue. Data from the Rand Corporation, among multiple other sources, indicates that people with HIV are much more likely to experience mental health or substance abuse problems than individuals in the general population.
In addition to the immediate medical issues associated with this dual-diagnosis condition, lifestyle factors such as unsafe sexual practices and needle-exchange behaviors can dramatically increase the risk of the spread of infection and deadly disease.
Although co-occurring HIV/AIDS and addiction sufferers need specialized and unique care, overlapping treatment needs can often get in the way of positive outcomes. It’s critical that individuals who are suffering from simultaneous HIV/AIDS and addiction get help at a rehab center that is equipped to effectively deal with both conditions for maximum success.
The risk of developing HIV/AIDS is particularly high among intravenous drug users.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports:
In addition to intravenous drug use, alcohol use disorder is also a common factor in the development of HIV/AIDS. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that more than a third of all those currently living with HIV/AIDS engage in binge drinking. Excessive drinking can impair judgment and lead to behaviors that can significantly increase factors that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS, including unsafe sexual practices like less frequent use of condoms and more random sexual partners.
Effective and proactive management of HIV/AIDS is critical to prolonging and maximizing the quality of life. Nevertheless, many alcohol and drug rehab centers fall short of providing the necessary resources that this population requires to prevent progression of the disease and keep them healthy. Substance use disorders (SUD) and HIV/AIDS patients very often fail to maintain a medication regimen and medical visits to monitor their health and their condition. The psychological conditions associated with substance use disorder combined with the behavioral fallout of daily active drug and alcohol abuse can be, and very often are direct impediments to proper monitoring and management of HIV/AIDS.
Patients with HIV/AIDS seeking treatment for substance use disorder need to find a treatment program that offers a non-negotiable set of treatment criteria, including:
Patients with HIV/AIDS will require comprehensive, clear, and realistic aftercare plans that provide access to HIV/AIDS specialists and addiction-trained therapists in their area. They should also be connected with support groups to whom they can turn throughout the course of their recovery.
Patients looking for treatment are encouraged to lean on their loved ones for emotional and logistical support during their search. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s treatment locator can help you find the ideal program for you. You can also find out from your prospective facility’s intake department if they’re equipped to deal with the medical needs of HIV/AIDS patients, and make your decision accordingly. One more resource that might be particularly helpful is your state’s department of health website. There are more resources than ever to help this vulnerable population find the care they need to successfully address both conditions.
No matter how desperate or hopeless things may seem, there is always a path out of addiction. Effective and comprehensive treatment can help you reclaim your life from drugs and alcohol and get you on the road to healthy living. It’s important to realize, however, that time is of the essence and the longer you wait, the more vulnerable you become to the prospect of declining health and subsequent overdose. Get the help you need now.
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