When you take a close look at the situation with drug abuse and addiction in our society, you will begin to understand how much damage this degenerative, chronic disease has inflicted on innocent human beings around the world. However, one of the most dangerous illnesses infecting our world (in a cruel and ironic twist) also happens to be one of the easiest problems we can prevent. After all, it should be easy to hold up your hand and “just say no,” right? If only it was that easy all the time.
Unfortunately, due to the flow of prescription opioids (potentially addictive and dangerous drugs) and other dangerous drugs, addiction has continued to plague countries across the globe. Besides obvious health risks like lung cancer or nerve cell damage, though, addictive substances can also contribute to the transmission of deadly infections and viruses (some of which cannot be cured). Sometimes, a drug addict will use an infected needle or unclean equipment. In another case, these individuals (already high on drugs) will engage in risky behavior that may include unprotected intimate acts with an infected individual. As a result, as we have seen in many cases around the world, these victims will contract one of the deadliest viruses known today: HIV.
Sadly, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a very tragic and very real aspect of our world and, through many circumstances, is transmitted through risky drug activity or sexual acts. Unlike other viruses or infections that affect our bodies, HIV does not have a cure and ultimately strikes with a vengeance. Over time, victims of this sickness will begin to break down physically and mentally, with no promise of management for their dual-illness (HIV and addiction). So how do we help them?
Fortunately, one doctor and his research team at the Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) may have discovered a potentially life-saving series of treatment programs for drug addicts suffering from HIV/AIDS. While he might not have found a cure, this physician has found a way to help addicts live longer. Let’s take a closer look and find out more information.
A Closer Look at HIV
Scientifically identified as the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV is a deadly illness that can be contracted through sexual activity, fluid exchange (transfusion), or dirty/infected equipment (in the case of drug addicts/abusers). Simply put, this virus directly assaults the immune system and specifically targets CD4 cells (T cells), a powerful “defense force” that defends our bodies from infections. Left untreated, HIV will eventually destroy so many CD4 cells that victims’ bodies can no longer protect them from foreign elements, allowing additional viruses or diseases like cancer to develop much easier than before.
Overall, HIV progresses in three stages:
- 1st stage: acute HIV infection
- 2nd stage: clinical latency
- 3rd stage: acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
Sadly, doctors will officially diagnose HIV as a full-scale progression to AIDS when the victim’s CD4+ count is less than 200. (Victims have described the progression from Stage 1 as the worst case of influenza ever experienced.)
Fortunately, victims of HIV can prevent the onset of Stage 2 through antiretroviral therapy (ART), an immensely beneficial medication (a miracle drug, of sorts) that can ensure a victim’s lifespan is equivalent to a person who is not suffering from HIV.
However, one question remains- how do you ensure drug addicts stay clean and endure this valuable treatment?
Full-Scale Integration Intervention Therapy
Addicts who inject potent drugs and simultaneously suffer from HIV can often experience a dangerously high death rate and will have to break through many tough barriers (in comparison to an addict who is not suffering from AIDS). However, Dr. William Miller, a member of the Ohio State University (in Columbus, Ohio) may have found a way to help these people cope with HIV and break away from addictive substances.
As part of a recent experiment, Dr. Miller and his team of researchers created an integrated intervention strategy designed to reduce the impact of addiction and HIV on the physical health and survival of these victims. Overall, the program includes:
- Instant referral to options for anti-HIV therapy
- A systems navigator who helped test subjects continue their treatment programs for HIV therapy and drug rehabilitation
- Psychosocial counseling to help patients stay in their treatment programs
Results of the Ohio State University Study
For the study, Dr. Miller gathered an international team of researchers (partnered with the HIV Prevention Trials Network) studied participants from three countries that suffer from the highest rates of addiction and HIV (comorbid rates). In total, Miller and his team recruited 502 people (men and women) who injected addictive drugs and also suffered from HIV in Ukraine, Indonesia, and Vietnam. So what were the results of this experiment?
After 1 year of performance, 72% of people who took part in the integrated intervention therapy were completing antiretroviral therapy (ART). Even more fascinating, 41% of the subjects had no trace of the virus in their bloodstreams, in contrast to individuals who completed standard care (43% to 24%). Likewise, the test subjects of Miller’s study were more likely to partake in medication-assisted therapy for their drug addiction. Ultimately, only 7% of the subjects died, in contrast to the 15% rate among standard-care patients.
What could be better news than that? According to Miller and his team, after the year-long study had been finished, no new outbursts of HIV had occurred among the 187 patients they had studied.
Seeking Treatment for Drug Addiction
At The Recover, we fully understand how difficult the treatment process can be for addicts through our daily work to help these individuals overcome this terrible, painful disease. Although many people believe they can overcome their problems without help, residential drug treatment programs are still an essential step on the road to recovery. Although the path to health and happiness might not be an easy one to take, you can finally enter the threshold to freedom with the help of a loving, supporting team. Additional aspects like counseling and psychological care can ensure you address underlying psychological issues that ultimately led you to become an addict. From here, you can build an infrastructure that will help you live your life with entering relapse, all with the help of a solid residential drug treatment program.
An unbiased and substance abuse and mental health news provider, The Recover works hard to help victims of drug abuse or addiction discover the right residential drug treatment programs in their local areas. We also provide detailed information concerning West Virginia Centers for addiction recovery. For more information, contact us today at (888) 510-3898 to learn more about our comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment program.