In additional to the direct damage that drugs and alcohol inflict on the body and mind; the behaviors of drug abuse often place addicts at a greatly increased risk for a number of serous and sometimes fatal conditions.
HIV and AIDS
Injection drug users are at a very high risk for the transmission of the HIV virus. HIV may be transmitted through the use of shared needles, but the virus can also be transmitted through shared spoons for cooking, cotton swabs or rinse water. Using a personal and disposable needle does not necessarily prevent against HIV infection.
In additional to the direct risk of injection administration of the virus, people abusing heroin and other drugs are at a greatly increased risk for HIV simply through the behaviors of intoxication. Drug users exhibit riskier sexual behaviors, and are more likely to contract the virus through unsafe sex practices, and through sexual contact within members of a very at risk group for HIV and AIDS.
An extremely contagious disease, Hep C can be contracted through shared needles or shared drug paraphernalia, and as well through unsafe sexual practices. A virus far more contagious than HIV, a survey of injection drug users found that most intravenous drug administration users contracted the virus during the first three years of injection administration drug use.
Hep C is a dangerous and possibly fatal viral infection, and can lead to liver damage, including cirrhosis of the liver and an increased risk for liver cancer. Hep C is the leading cause of liver disease.
Hep C is treatable if detected in the early stages, but chronic Hep C re infection is a significant predictor of liver disease and liver failure (fatal).
Completely intertwined with HIV infection and drug use and abuse, tuberculosis remains a significant threat to injection drug users. Tuberculosis is a very infections lung disease, and it is estimated that a significant percentage of intravenous drug users are latent carriers of the disease. Tuberculosis often emerges during a period of immune system weakness, as exhibited during AIDS infections and other chronic diseases.
Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases
For the same reasons that IV drug users at an increased risk for HIV, they also suffer from greatly elevated rates of all other STD infections. STD's can be transmitted through shared drug injection paraphernalia, and also through unsafe sexual practices, particularly within a community of very at risk people.
Skin and Other Infections
Through infected sites of administration, injection drug users often suffer from serious and painful skin infections. Due to decreased health and a weakened immune system, injection drug users are also more susceptible to diseases such as bacterial and viral pneumonia.
Decreasing the Risks
Injection drug users can decrease their risks of contracting serious infectious diseases by maintain a vigilant cleanliness during injection procedures, and by always maintain safe sexual practices. The best way to minimize the risks of disease however is to stop unsafe injection and drug taking practices altogether.
Drug abuse damages the body, the mind and the soul, and the damage is not limited to the effects of the drugs in the body. The behaviors of administration and even the behaviors of intoxication place drug users at a greatly increased risk for serious and sometimes fatal and incurable diseases.
Effective professional intervention and treatments are available for any drug users wanting to make a change to sobriety.
Page last updated Aug 05, 2010