The Connection Between Addiction and HIV

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Individuals with substance use disorder face many challenges and health risks. Addiction can cause many adverse effects on the physical and mental health of affected individuals. What’s worse is that substance use can also affect the lives of family members and loved ones. Since addiction is a progressive disease, individuals will often spiral out of control and engage in increasingly risky behavior. Some of those behaviors can leave lasting repercussions and cause further health complications. One of the most feared outcomes of high-risk behavior for addicts is contracting HIV. However, there are also many myths and disinformation surrounding drug use and HIV. Join us as we explore the connection between addiction and HIV.

The Bright Futures Treatment Center is a specialized rehabilitation facility providing addiction solutions Florida. We frequently treat patients that have substance use disorder and other co-occurring symptoms and diseases. Some of the patients who came to us for treatment had both addiction and HIV. Our licensed clinicians have experience in successfully treating substance use disorder and helping patients stabilize their immunity and manage HIV. If you are in need of treatment, do not hesitate to contact us. The sooner you enter rehab, the higher your chances are for a successful and complete recovery. Additionally, by getting treatment early, you will be able to prevent many health complications that result from long-term drug use.

The Connection Between Addiction and HIV

There is a stigma surrounding drug use, and the public has an idea that addiction and HIV are inseparably connected. However, is there any truth to these beliefs? Unfortunately, studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between substance use and HIV.

The first cases of AIDS in the United States were recorded in 1981 among drug users and gay men. There was an immediate negative reaction from the public, believing that the immune deficiency was caused by promiscuous behavior. However, scientists were baffled since there was initially no known cause for the impaired immunity for individuals with Pneumocystis pneumonia. Over time, more cases were discovered the scientific community had theories regarding the origins and transmission of the virus. Thankfully, modern medicine relies on health risk reduction through educational and aftercare programs allowing us to combat addiction and HIV.

One of the working theories was that HIV emerged through unsafe or unsterile injections. There are several instances of post-World War II mass vaccination campaigns in Africa that reused single-use syringes. Although AIDS denialists believe that the immunodeficiency is caused by lifestyle choices, scientific consensus contradicts those claims. Studies from the late eighties already realized that intravenous drug users were the second largest group to develop immunodeficiency symptoms. These individuals were also considered to be the main source of HIV transmission in the US.

Various drugs and needles.
Drug injection is one of the primary forms of HIV transmission.

How HIV is Transmitted

HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, is a retrovirus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). If left untreated, AIDS can progressively erode the immune system and lead to life-threatening infections and cancers. Nowadays, HIV is primarily considered a sexually transmitted disease since infection can occur through blood or sexual fluids. However, there are also non-sexual forms of transmission, such as from mother to child. These can occur during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

Of course, HIV is also commonly transmitted by sharing needles, syringes or other drug injection paraphernalia. When sharing drug injection equipment, you are also at a risk of contracting other sexually-transmitted diseases such as hepatitis. Needle and syringe sharing is considered to be the second-riskiest behavior in regards to contracting HIV. Drug and alcohol use are also linked to high-risk sexual behavior, which is considered the primary method of transmitting HIV.

Woman holding a condom to prevent HIV.
HIV can be transmitted through unsafe sex practices.

Can Addiction Cause HIV

We cannot discuss the connection between addiction and HIV without addressing the elephant in the room. Therefore, we must examine can addiction cause HIV, and how this happens. In short, drugs and alcohol don’t cause HIV, but many behaviors associated with addiction can cause users to contract HIV.

One of the most common behaviors that puts drug users at risk of contracting HIV is sharing drug paraphernalia. Sharing needles to shoot up can directly lead to contracting HIV from other infected individuals. Drug users who are addicted to substances that are consumed intravenously should regularly get tested. Unfortunately, testing for HIV won’t prevent infection, so it’s highly recommended to cease any risky behavior. However, due to the hold addiction has on people’s lives, abstinence is sometimes difficult to achieve. To stop using hard drugs, individuals should look for meth rehab Florida and seek professional help.

Even when addiction doesn’t directly put users at risk of contracting HIV, substance use disorder can lower a person’s immunity. An immune system that is struggling might not be able to fight off HIV. This puts drug users at an increased risk of contracting the immune-deficiency virus. Even individuals with an addiction to prescription medication without injection can be prone to sexual risk behavior. Regardless if drugs aren’t injected, high-risk behaviors can still be present among drug users.

For example, when high, Oxycodone addicts can engage in unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors put opioid users at high risk of contracting HIV, and it’s recommended to seek Oxycodone rehab for treatment. Continuing to use drugs will put individuals in high-risk situations where they are likely to contract HIV.

How Addiction Affects Individuals With HIV

Individuals with HIV primarily manage their health and immune system through multiple antiretroviral drugs. Fortunately, for most people living in developed countries it is possible to manage HIV as a chronic condition. When detected early and properly treated, the expected outcomes for patients with HIV are optimistic. Additionally, with the help of treatment and medical advances, progression to AIDS is becoming rare. Even transmission through sex with a HIV-positive individual can be practically eliminated if the individual is undergoing antiretroviral treatment.

However, this is where drug use can complicate the matter. Drug use can lower a person’s immune system, making them more prone to infection when in contact with HIV-infected individuals. Additionally, drug use can reduce the efficiency of the antiretroviral medication and increase the viral load, making infection more likely.

Stimulants, such as Adderall can affect viral suppression medication. This means that individuals with HIV who take drugs risk worsening their condition and enabling faster disease progression. The consequences of HIV are much worse for drug users, especially in the brain and lymph nodes. For these reasons it’s crucial to attend Adderall addiction rehab Boynton Beach before substance use permanently damages your health.

AIDS mortality rates are much higher for addicts even if they follow their prescribed antiretroviral regimen. Sadly, drug users are also less likely to adhere to their ART treatments, directly influencing their projected disease outcomes. Patients who are successfully managing their HIV should also stay away from drugs and alcohol. Drug use is linked to neuroinflammations and cognitive disorders for HIV-infected individuals. Substance use disorder speeds up aging of the brain, which is exacerbated for people with HIV.

Pills spelling out HIV.
Drug use can affect your HIV therapy.

Rehab for Individuals With Addiction and HIV

Addiction is a disease that doesn’t discriminate. People can develop a substance use disorder regardless of their age, sexual orientation or religion. However, one thing they all have in common is that they can be helped and taught to manage their addiction.

At Bright Futures, we believe that every patient should be seen, heard and respected. Moreover, this has proven to be a key component of recovery. After meeting and talking to our patients, we can develop a personalized treatment plan, specifically suited to their needs.

When you first contact us, you can describe your condition and type of addiction over the phone. We can then suggest a recommended form of treatment, adjusted for patients with addiction and HIV. Upon your arrival at our facility, our clinicians can give you an accurate diagnosis and set out a treatment plan.

Therapy usually consists of attending individual and group sessions as part of your residential drug treatment Florida. Residential stay lasts between 30 and 90 days based on the patient’s needs and the severity of their addiction. Afterwards, patients can progress to less demanding forms of treatment.

Bright Futures also offers clients outpatient treatment programs which are less intensive. They are intended for those who have completed their inpatient programs, or who require less demanding treatment. Outpatient programs can allow you to visit our facility for treatment, yet spend nights at home. We are sure we can find the perfect form of treatment for you, whatever your specific needs may be. Help is available, you just need to reach out and ask for it. With our assistance, you can lead a sober and care-free life, without having to worry about your addiction and HIV.

Dangerous drug behaviors link addiction and HIV.
Sharing needles can cause drug users to contract HIV.

Entering Rehab When You Have Addiction and HIV

Asking for help is always difficult, but it’s a necessary step if you want to get better. The longer you leave addiction untreated, the higher your chances for HIV to cause serious medical complications. Therefore, we suggest you reach out to professionals with experience in treating patients with addiction and HIV. If you want to get treatment for addiction, there are a few simple steps you can take.

First, we strongly suggest that you contact us immediately. The sooner you begin treatment, the better your expected HIV outcome will be. When you call us, our admission coordinators can explain everything over the phone and answer all of your questions. They can explain how rehab in our facility functions and help you prepare for you admission to Bright Futures.

As part of those preparations, we suggest that you make arrangements at work. Many people don’t know if they will get fired for entering rehab or is drug rehab covered under FMLA. Thankfully, there are laws and regulations in place that protect your rights and allow you to get treatment for addiction. We suggest contacting your HR department at work and making arrangements with them.

Additionally, you should consider all the things you will need to bring when you enter rehab. We have licensed clinicians on staff, who can provide 24/7 care. However, you will still need to bring a list of all your required medications and dosages from your primary physician.

Person filling out HIV consent form.
Drug users often partake in risky sexual behavior.

Paying for Rehab

Covering the cost of rehab is a common point of confusion for many individuals who need treatment. You’ll be happy to hear insurance can cover up to 100% of your treatment costs at Bright Futures. Keep in mind that the exact level of coverage can depend on several factors. Namely, coverage can vary based on your insurance provider, the policy you have, or the type and length of treatment. It would be best to ask your insurance provider for details or contact our admissions to verify your insurance.

If your insurance doesn’t fully cover the cost of rehab, you can pay for the difference out of pocked. Of course, Bright Futures also accepts patients who don’t have health insurance. There are several ways to pay for your costs of treatment. Bright Futures accepts credit cards, bank transfers and cash payments. We can also organize a flexible payment plan that suits your needs. Patients are given the option to pay in monthly or weekly installments, or you can even pay per visit.

Which Insurance Providers are Accepted in Bright Futures

If we don’t mention our insurance provider here, you can contact us and inquire about details. We accept most major health insurance providers, and we can verify your insurance. Simply contact our admissions coordinators, and they will explain which benefits and services you are eligible for. To make things convenient, here is a list of the most commonly accepted insurance providers in Bright Futures:

Tricare. Military service members often call us asking does Tricare cover alcohol rehab and what they can expect from treatment. Tricare can be used to cover treatment of those in the US military service and their family members.

Aetna. Millions of Americans rely on Aetna for health insurance, but we still get asked does Aetna cover drug rehab. If you are wondering the same, contact us for more information.

Cigna. Originally from Bloomfield, Connecticut, Cigna offers managed healthcare and Medicare in the US and internationally. If you want to know does Cigna cover drug rehab for your situation, reach out to us.

Aflac. The American Family Life Assurance Company is the largest provider of supplemental insurance in the US. If you have their policy and are wondering does Aflac cover alcohol rehab you can ask us to verify your insurance.

Blue Cross Blue Shield. BCBS is one of the largest and most popular health insurance providers in the United States. Naturally, we get many inquiries regarding does Blue Cross Blue Shield cover alcohol rehab.

Humana. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Humana is one of the nation’s largest health insurance providers offering PPO and HMO plans. If you are confused regarding does Humana cover alcohol rehab, feel free to contact us for clarification and insurance information.

Closing Thoughts

In this article we have explained the main causes for transmission of HIV. We have also examined how addiction can put drug users at a higher risk of contracting the immune-virus, and how drug use can accelerate the progression of HIV in already infected individuals. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the connection between addiction and HIV. If you are suffering from addiction, we strongly urge you to get treatment. With the proper care, you can learn to manage your substance use, and halt the progression of other co-occurring illnesses.

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