Substance Abuse / Chemical Dependency

Substance Abuse / Chemical Dependency

A diagnosis of HIV can be overwhelming; fear is a reasonable and expected reaction. The infected individual fears the disease’s progression- and fears rejection from friends, co-workers, and family members.

No matter how or why an individual starts using drugs, over time, repeated drug use causes significant, long-lasting changes in brain structure and function that lead to addiction. Today, addiction* is defined as compulsive drug seeking and using, even in the face of terrible personal and social consequences. It’s a chronic, complex brain disease. For many people, addiction takes over their lives, destroying their ability to function in family, workplace, and community. Use of alcohol or other drugs can further suppress the HIV-positive individual’s immune system.

Treatment can help because it offers the medical, psychological, and behavioral support that individuals need to stop using drugs. Outpatient substance abuse treatment programs allow clients to maintain their daily routine while receiving substance abuse treatment. Treatment can also play a major role in helping individuals adhere to recommended services and medications.

Risk reductions: Due to decreased inhibitions while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, individuals may participate in unsafe sexual activities, use injection drugs, and put themselves and others at risk for HIV transmission.

*Addiction is not the result of character flaws or moral failings but of profound changes in the brain’s function.