Addiction and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)  ultimately lead to AIDS. Although there have been great medical advances in suppressing HIV, having the virus requires chronic, intensive treatment, and there is currently no cure.  Those with addiction have a higher rate of becoming infected with HIV, and a lower rate of successful suppressive treatment and treatment of opportunistic infections.

If you suffer from HIV/AIDS and alcohol or drug addiction you need an addiction treatment program able to handle your special needs. A medically based addiction treatment facility with medical staff can handle your medical, psychiatric and addiction needs. Call Recovery Connection now at 866-812-8231 and speak with a trained coordinator. You can stabilize your health and overcome your addiction. All calls are confidential and free of charge. Our helpline is open 24/7.

What is HIV and AIDS?


AIDS Awareness Ribbon

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks and destroys certain white blood cells, which are part of the body’s immune system needed to fight infections. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the end result of HIV. AIDS occurs when the majority of white blood cells have been destroyed by HIV and the immune system no longer functions. Today, there are medications that help manage opportunistic infections such as HIV/AIDS as well as drugs to slow the progression of HIV. With these new medications, a person can live a long time before the onset of AIDS. Currently, there is no cure for HIV or AIDS.

HIV is spread through the transmission of body fluids such as semen, blood, or vaginal secretions. The fluid can be transferred through broken skin, mucous membranes, or sexual intercourse. The infection can also be transferred through surgical procedures or dirty needles through tainted blood.

Pregnant women can spread HIV to their babies through the blood exchange between the mother and the fetus during delivery, or through breast milk.

It is important to understand that the use of drugs and alcohol tends to promote risky behaviors, such as promiscuous and unprotected sex, the sharing of needles, or the use of unsterilized needles. Active addiction also decreases the function of the immune system.

Nutritional deficiencies and other infections, which are both symptoms of AIDS, as well as the direct effects of the virus, can cause problems in the brain’s ability to function. These deficiencies may produce a condition known as AIDS Dementia Complex. Some symptoms of this complex are:

  • Slurred speech
  • Change in speech patterns
  • Slowed thinking
  • Difficulty in finding words
  • Muscle weakness
  • Confusion and forgetfulness
  • Loss of concentration

Many of the symptoms of addiction are also common with the symptoms related to AIDS Dementia Complex. This can make it difficult to help those that suffer with both addiction and HIV. The negative impact drugs and alcohol on the brain exacerbates HIV infections.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction and HIV

Drug and alcohol addicts are not generally focused upon health. Because of this lack of focus, personal hygiene, good eating habits, sleep and exercise patterns, and medical care all go by the wayside. Further, while actively using, a person with drug addiction or alcoholism may not exercise proper judgment. This is exactly why the HIV infection rate is higher in alcoholics and in those suffering from drug addiction. For example, sharing straws to snort drugs can transmit HIV and Hepatitis C, in the same manner that sharing needles transmits these viruses. Poor judgment from frontal lobe inhibition while using, and an abnormal increase in sexual desire leads those who are in active alcohol or drug addiction to participate in risky, unprotected sexual behavior that they would not engage in if sober.

Drugs and alcohol complicate the body’s ability to function properly and fight infections of all kinds. Alcohol and marijuana suppress the immune system’s response, by both suppressing the number of infection fighting cells in the body and decreasing the actual function of each cell.

Of important note, once HIV has been contracted, it is important to seek immediate medical attention in order to suppress the replication of the virus in the body in an attempt to prevent the progress of the HIV disease state to full-blown AIDS. However, if one is actively using drugs or alcohol, the medications used to treat an HIV infection are less effective. This is due to several factors, such as increased or decreased metabolism of the drug, and simply forgetting to adhere to a regimented schedule of medication administration. In fact, many infectious disease doctors will not start a patient on a medication regimen to treat HIV or Hepatitis C when the patient is actively in alcoholism or drug addiction, due to the patient’s likely inability to adhere to a regimen.

Testing positive for HIV can be scary, causing a great deal of stress for someone. Emotional swings can include feelings of anger, fear, and confusion. Once diagnosed, many people go through denial, guilt, and/or depression. As a result of these intense feelings, some people turn to drugs or alcohol to “numb out”, or avoid dealing with their reality. This behavior can worsen the situation with the onset of drug addiction or alcoholism.

You have HIV/AIDS and you are addicted. You are throwing away your life. The right treatment program can help you break the cycle of addiction and stabilize your health. Call 866-812-8231 now and let a Recovery Connection staff member help you find the best treatment program for your needs.

HIV and Drug Rehab

The combination of drug addiction and alcoholism with HIV/AIDS requires specialized addiction treatment program that addresses the medical issues, psychiatric issues, as well as the addiction issues.

An addict who has HIV/AIDS that also needs detox should seek a facility that will be familiar with his or her medical needs. A medical staff should be available to assist the addict 24//7 while they are going through the detox process. This is to ensure the safety of the addict who’s physical health is already compromised.

Once detox is complete the addict should transfer to a drug rehab where he or she will be able to begin learning how to eliminate unhealthy coping patterns and learn how to manage uncomfortable emotions in a healthy way. In certain addictions, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and crack addiction, there is oftentimes an underlying sexual addiction or pornography addiction which played a role in the patient becoming infected with the HIV virus. The pornography addiction and/or sexual addiction will need to be addressed simultaneously.

A comprehensive approach to medication management is needed for those who suffer from alcohol and drug addiction and HIV/AIDS. This is due to the interaction of various medical medications, anti-HIV virus medications, and psychiatric medications. Thus, the best treatment occurs in by a multidisciplinary team in an inpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment facility. A quality drug rehab will be able to refer you to an infectious disease specialist and teach you how to manage your HIV medication regimen.

HIV and AIDS are treatable conditions. Ongoing medical breakthroughs are encouraging. If you are engaging in high risk behaviors, make sure you get tested. If you have tested positive or feel you might be ill, see your physician immediately.

Please keep in mind that someone cannot get HIV through casual contact, sharing a meal, holding hands, or hugging. Prevention, education, drug and alcohol abstinence, and the practice of safe sex are the keys to remaining abstinent of HIV.

Looking For Treatment?

If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol and are battling HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular problems or cirrhosis, please call Recovery Connection® at 866-812-8231 and we will assist you in locating an addiction treatment center that specializes in substance abuse treatment and a wide range of medical protocols. Don’t let shame, fear or self-pity keep you from achieving recovery. There are thousands of people with HIV and AIDS and other contagious diseases living life clean and sober.

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