Psychology Sample Essay on Addiction Treatment and Aids

Addiction Treatment and Aids


            Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease that is caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which destroys the body’s natural protection from illness. It is primarily transmitted through transfusion of contaminated blood from one individual to another and it causes adverse effects on the victim.  On the other hand, addiction is a condition that yields when an individual engages in an activity continuously which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities (Karen et al. 2000). Substance addiction refers to the biological state in which the body gets used to the presence of a drug and in case of an absentia of that drug, the body functioning is affected. Previously, substance abuse or drug addiction has been reported to catalyze the spread of AIDS in the society. This paper outlines the aspects of HIV/AIDS and its relation to substance abuse in the community. Additionally, this study intends to assess the relationship of HIV positive victims and drug and substance abuse in the society.


            A person’s immune system is designed to protect an individual from any infectious disease that may attack the body. However, a person who has been infected with the HIV / AIDS virus may lack the capability of body protection against a disease. AIDS is caused by reduction in CD4+ T cells and it is believed to have been introduced to humans from monkeys (Karen et al, 2000). It is an extremely dangerous disease that can cause death if not treated in its initial stages. The first case of HIV/AIDS was reported in the united states at around 1983 (Karen et al, 2000) According to UNAIDS, there were 35.3 million people living with HIV globally and around 1.6 million deaths occurred in 2012 and since the start of the AIDS epidemic, at least 36 million deaths have been reported to culminate from AIDS-related diseases (UNAIDS, 2013). The disease progression involves four stages before it matures to AIDS and they include initial infection, latency period, early symptomatic infection and finally AIDS (Karen et al., 2000).

            HIV is extremely fragile and cannot survive long outside body’s fluids or tissue; hence it cannot penetrate unbroken skin (Chowdhury, Huq, Roy, Talukder & Haque, 2014). Therefore, it is transmitted via the exchange of body fluid processes such as blood transfusion, sexual intercourse, breastfeeding, use of contaminated sharp objects, organ transplant, and mother-to-child transmission during pregnancies. Consequently, unprotected sexual intercourse is the major way of transmitting HIV/AIDS from an infected person to an uninfected person. It can be transmitted through anal, oral or vaginal sexual intercourse hence it puts people who are sexually active at a high risk of contracting the disease.

Drug abuse and addiction

            Substance abuse is the consumption of a drug or substance in an outlined manner until the consumption rate is high enough to harm the consumer (Karen et al., 2000). Addiction is the brain disorder that causes compulsive substance quest despite the resultant effects. A human being can be addicted to various things such as food and not necessarily drugs (Lowinson, 2005). Mostly, people assume that addiction is brought about by lack of morality and the willpower to control an individual consumption, but in reality addiction can be a brain disorder. Nevertheless, substance abuse is the hazardous use of drugs, including alcohol and illicit drugs in a prolonged period leading to addiction (Lowinson, 2005). The risks of being addicted to anything are brought by a combination of factors which include individual biology, social environment, cultural beliefs, age and the stage of development (Karen et al., 2000). A social environment is the most significant reason that influences people get addicted. The environment may include family and friends, social status, level of education, and psychological status.

 According to NIDA, approximate 23.9 million Americans who have attained the age of 12 years were consumed illicit drugs in 2012. The report indicated that there was a tremendous 8.1% increase from the year 2008 and marijuana was ranked the most consumed illicit drugs. Youths aged 18 to 25 years were the most affected, followed by teenagers aged 12 to 17 years (Chowdhury et al, 2014). It is quite evident that illicit drug consumption is a global menace, especially among the young adults. Therefore, drug addiction and abuse is a severe problem not only in the United States, but also in the entire globe. 

Relationship between HIV/AIDS and substance abuse

            According to Varela and colleagues (1997), drug addicts are at a high risk of HIV infection due to their behavioral risk factors and their rampant immune deficiencies. Chowdhury et al (2014) concurs with Varela because they state that the largest number of AIDS case in the developed countries is associated with drug abusers. Similarly, developing countries encounter the same menace because a study conducted in Bangladesh shown that among the drug addicts, especially sex commercial workers 62% were HIV positive and 85% of the participant had full HIV/AIDS awareness (Chowdhury et al, 2014). In this case, people are aware of the HIV dangers and the following are the paramount concepts about HIV/AIDS and substance abuse relationship.

  1. Substance abuse increases the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.

One of the ways of contracting HIV is by the body coming into contact with contaminated sharp objects. Hard drugs such as heroin are associated with direct injection using a syringe that is shared among many people. In the process of exchanging that needle, an infected person’s body fluid remains on the needle and the next person to inject him or herself automatically acquires the disease. According to Gibson (1998), injecting drug users (IDU) amount to more than one third of AIDS cases in the United States. Consequently, if a man is an IDU victim then there are higher chances he will transmit it to the wife. 70% of women who were reported to suffer from HIV disease in 1990s were infected during sex with a male drug user (Gibson, 1998). Other drug users may share inhalers, which have blood content and if the person who uses that inhaler has wounds on the tongue, he or she risks contracting the disease (Ball et al., 1998). Also, drugs might impact the consumer with an impaired judgment while sharing sex toys, handling of body fluids and waste hence contracting the disease.

  • Substance abusers are at risk for HIV infection through sexual behaviors.

Usually, intoxication is associated with reckless behavior and impaired judgment. In regard to this, when a person is high, he or she is vulnerable to indulging in risky sexual behavior without observing the protective measures. Trisha and others (2009) conducted a research on the reasons that lead to high teenage pregnancies among the youths. Among the findings, drugs and alcohol consumption were a major cause that led to sexual escapades. Most of the respondents argued that when they attended house parties they usually drunk alcohol and ended up having sex (Trisha et al., 2009). Surprisingly, some usually have sex and do not remember due to the level of intoxication until they are told by their friends (Monti, 2012). When Trisha and the others sought to know whether they use protective measures the answer was negative since the activity is usually rushed into (2009). Consequently, when they attend different parties they may end up having sex with a series of partners. Tefera and Mulatie (2014) found out that adolescents who consumed drugs in Ethiopia were at a higher risk of teenage pregnancies than those who do not take drugs. This is because most of the drug addicts among the teenagers had already experimented on how to have sex. Defer and Mulatie referred to this stage as a personal identification stage where adolescents want to experiment everything where consumption of drugs increases their self esteem in engaging in risky behaviors (2014). In their discussion, Tefera and Mulatie (2014) found out that these teenagers were likely to end up as commercial sex workers despite the risk involved.

            In addition, drug addicts may use sex as a way of earning money to sustain their drug addiction. According to Chowdhury et al (2014), Bangladesh’s sex workers were always on duty to look for money to buy drugs. Unfortunately, there is an increased number of sex workers and low number of condom use in the brothels. Similarly, young girls exchange sex for material favors such as money. Basically, that money is used for fraudulent and fun activities which involve going out to drinking sprees. Continued engagement in such risky sexual behaviors increases the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS due to intoxication (Tefera & Mulatie, 2014).

  • Biological effects of drugs abuse on HIV/AIDS scourge

A person who suffers from HIV/AIDS and he or she is a drug addict; there is a high probability of each problem becoming a hindrance to the treatment of the other to such an individual (Lowinson, 2005).  Usually, a drug addict concentration is relatively low and when he or she is given medication to treat HIV/AIDS, the high chances are the patient will not follow the medication specification (Gibson, 1998). Drug addicts are less likely to adhere to their prescribed drug dose because they will be taking medication off schedule. On the either way, a person diagnosed with HIV will be relentless to stop substance consumption since they find it as a way of seeking solace and calming depression. As a result, the intoxication will fuel their zeal to engage in sexual behaviors and the disease will continue to spread. In simpler terms, substance abuse can negatively impinge on adherence to HIV/AIDS treatment regimens (Karen et al., 2000).

            On the other hand, drug abuse and addiction can adversely affect a person’s health resulting in a chain distribution of AIDS due to the alteration of HIV propensity. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), AIDS virus increases the vulnerability of the body’s immune system, and then drug abuse increases the chances of the body suffering from chronic diseases such as cancer (Gibson, 1998). For example, alcohol causes liver cirrhosis and early treatment aids the body to fight the disease and remain healthy. On the contrary, when the body has HIV virus, it will be impossible to fight the cancer and it will cause death to the patient. Additionally, researchers have indicated that HIV causes injuries to the brain cells affecting the cognitive impairment among drug addicts more than victims who do not use drugs (Karen et al., 2000). The laboratory test done on animals confirmed that methamphetamine, which is a hard drug, increases the amount of HIV in the brain cells which results in high damages.

  • LGBIT drug addicts and their role in spreading  HIV/AIDS

Some people argue that sexual behavior between two people of the same gender do not contract the HIV virus. However, Fernandez, Warren, Jacobs and Bowen (2009) conducted a study on Hispanic men who have sex with men (MSM) and 43% of the participants were drug addicts. According to Fernandez et al (2009), 45% had unprotected sex with at least 4 different partners with a span of 6 months. Apparently, the most common consumed drugs by the respondent were cocaine, poppers, ecstasy and Viagra. Viagra is a drug that arouses sexual feelings and the consumer is relieved only by engaging in a sexual activity. The study unearthed the intertwined risks of drug consumption, unprotected sex and gay attachment among the victims. As Fernandez and others found out, the gay attachment led to intense drug use, which resulted in sexual activities increasing the probability of HIV infection (2009). Unfortunately, most of the lesbians and gay people have unprotected sex since they think same gender sex does not transmit STIs. However, Karen et al (2000) differs with that belief, citing that HIV is transmitted when there is an exchange between body fluids in spite of partners’ gender.

  • Efficiency of substance treatment on HIV

One of the most effective ways of preventing the spreading of HIV/AIDS is by countering the level of substance abuse. Chowdhury et al delineates that since the early 1980s, studies have concluded places that have low concentrations of drug addicts exhibit lower risk of HIV/AIDS scourge. Karen and colleagues (2000) states that treating a substance abuse patient with a continuum of care helps in reduction of continuous spread of HIV/AIDS. It helps them to concentrate on one thing and gives them comfiture emotionally. When they are in a secluded place, they can adhere to HIV medication and heal quickly. Similarly, they lack the time to go and engage in sexual behaviors since they are being catered for both psychologically and physically.

HIV/AIDS prevention

            HIV prevention involves primary or secondary prevention measures. Primary prevention reduces the incidence of transmission, hence fewer people contract the disease while secondary prevention involves reduction of severity of the disease by arresting the problem in the early stages (Karen et al, 2000). According to Karen et al (2000), HIV/AIDS prevention is basically the reduction of risks involved with spreading the disease. This is because primary prevention revolves around sensitizing the community and creating awareness of the existence of the disease so that uninfected people do not acquire the disease. As a result, the World Health Organization formulated a program of creating global awareness about the disease which is known as voluntary counseling services (Chowdhury et al, 2014). Also, this service eradicates the myths and unscientific beliefs about HIV such as it can be spread through the shaking of hands or kissing. Secondary prevention on the other hand, aims at halting the consequences caused by HIV/AIDS (Karen et al, 2000). If a victim has been diagnosed with the disease, secondary prevention involves discovering the disease early and employing the relevant treatment measures to curb the severity associated with it. In addition, secondary prevention helps in influencing the victim to be of benefit to the family and the society since some of them loose hope in life the moment they learn they have HIV. Consequently, they deliberately start infecting others, hence comprehensive counseling is required on such a victim.

Secondary prevention also involves availing HIV/AIDS drugs to the public to allow treatment during the initial stages of the disease. The inception of ARV drugs has proved that infected people can live longer and lead a healthier life (Karen et al. 2000). Similarly, personal identification occurs as individual set personal interests and objectives; however, when they discover that they are ailing from a chronic disease their self esteem becomes low (Chowdhury et al, 2014). Therefore, patients or HIV/AIDS victims should be guided in personal identification to relieve their psychological pressure and concentrate on abolishing the spread of HIV/AIDS. Tefara and Mulatie (2014) also identified youth’s failure to conform to the cultural norms and values as one of the causes of HIV/AIDS. The Ethiopian collectivist culture bans adolescents from engaging into sexual escapades, but according to the study most of the respondents had experimented with having sex (Tefera & Mulatie, 2014). As a result, adolescent fear seeking advice from their parents about sex since religion and cultural beliefs prohibits such activities. Due to the lack of guidance they will indulge in sexual behaviors unaware of the risks and consequences. Conversely, sexual development is appreciated in the western world and parents will take time counseling their children and advice them to use protective measures rather than avoiding them (Monti, 2012). This happens to drug abuse and the adolescents’ ends up being outcasts because they are dimmed as an embarrassment to the society. In summary, Tefara and Mulatie (2014) suggest that parent participation is vital in preventing the HIV and AIDS scourge.

Drugs/substance abuse and addiction prevention

            Drugs contain chemicals that induce into the brain communicating system and disrupt the usual way of conveying information by the nerve cells (Lowinson, 2005). In this case, the body functions are completely altered and it can be hazardous to the body system. Therefore, drug addiction is unfortunate occurrence which is a preventable disease. Drug abuse prevention entails the contribution of the whole society since this menace affects the entire community (Monti, 2012). Public awareness is the most preferred ways of curbing drug and substance extensive consumption. Families and relatives should be encouraged to educate their loved ones against consuming illicit drugs. The media still has a role to play in sensitizing people against drug abuse. Awareness also encompasses ensuring that proper education systems about drug abuse are in place. Other than awareness, the government has a responsibility of installing adequate rehabilitation and treatment centers to reduce substance abuse (Lowinson, 2005).


            The wide spread drug usage is directly proportionate to the wide scope of HIV/AIDS coverage. Most of the scholars have included substance abuse among the reasons that influence the spreading hazardous and chronic STIs such as HIV/AIDS (Tefera & Mulatie, 2014). Drug use is common among populations with human immunodeficiency virus and poses a high risk of the disease infection. Despite the chronic consequences associated with drug use, HIV patients are still consuming these drugs.  Most epidemiological data support the role of substance abuse in increasing sexual risk behaviors. Although the direct influence of substance abuse on HIV development has not been fully determined, the substance abuse can interact with the retroviral medications and hinder the exertion of the medication (Chowdhury et al, 2014). Drugs that are consumed in clubs and circuit parties, especially alcohol are referred to as “club drugs”.  A combination of “club drugs “with ART may produce serious and even fatal interactions. According to Karen et al (2000), substance abusers report suboptimal adherence to antiretroviral drugs. Such intermittent treatment interruptions could pilot the development of drug resistant HIV and treatment failure.  Due to the frequent use of “club drugs”, the population is at high risk of contracting the HIV virus because of the impaired judgment associated with intoxication. Unfortunately, youths below the age of 30 years are mostly affected due to their regular use of “club drugs” (Monti, 2012).

Injecting drug use (IDU) has resulted in major international public health problems and the increase in the consumption contributes to increasing transmission of blood borne diseases, particularly HIV (Ball et al., 1998). A report by the national institute on drug abuse (NIDA) in 2007 estimated the global number of people who inject drugs and are HIV positive to 6.8 million people (Tefera & Mulatie, 2014). Additionally, 21 million people were reported to be using injection drugs worldwide; therefore, there is a great probability of spreading the virus to the uninfected via the injection. Injecting drugs use occurs in most countries and HIV infection is very common among many populations presenting a global challenge. In the undeveloped countries IDU is associated with poverty and psychological imbalance among the victims. In the western world IDU victims are usually introduced into injecting drugs by the social environment, corrupted morality and psychological imbalance (Ball et al., 1998). Another problem that has been noted in this study is the rise of commercial sex workers in the entire world. Since illicit drugs are quite expensive, most of the users lack the capability of sustaining their addiction. As a result, they indulge in commercial sex as a way of looking for a fortune. Others, especially young girls, use sex in exchange of favors to sustain them. Minimal protection is used in these escapades hence the victims are at a very high risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS. On the other hand, LGBIT group as also contributed to spreading of HIV virus especially the gay people. Gays are reported to dispute the use of protection since they engage in anal sex increasing the risk of getting infected with HIV (Fernandez, 2009). Also, they are associated with the consumption of drugs which alters their brain system, putting them at a risk of indulging in sexual behaviors (Fernandez, 2009).


Human beings are surrounded by a lot of perils and risks which can harm their body functions both physically and emotionally. Some of these perils can be avoided if an individual has the will power to control his or her behavior. Consequently, others are unavoidable and when they occur a person has to face them and look for a relevant cure. In regard to this, the HIV virus is a peril which in most cases can be avoided by controlling an individual’s behavior.  Similarly, addiction can be a brain disorder which is uncontrollable, but at the same time it can be influenced by the social environment (Gibson, 1998). As noted in this study, there is a correlation between drug abuse and addiction with infection of HIV/AIDS. Firstly, drug abuse corrupts people’s morality and they are vulnerable to unfortunate behaviors that are associated with adverse consequences. Secondly, drug abusers form a cocoon like family which believes that they share a lot in common; hence they end up sharing their substances. They share things like needles and inhalers increasing the chances of HIV progression (Fernandez, 2009).

 Thirdly, due to the unending appetite of illicit drugs, illegal businesses such as prostitution and human trafficking crop up. Cases of sex assault and rape are usually associated with human trafficking hence there is increased development of AIDS among drug users (Fernandez, 2009). Finally, it is quite evident that drugs affect the curing process of HIV medication prescribed to the patient. The government must step up in creating a public awareness about the intertwined risks of HIV/AIDS. Parents still have a huge role to play in ensuring that all the adolescents and young adults have reduced substance abuse. In addition, they should be guided on sexual development to avoid misconceived decisions that end up ruining their lives (Tefera & Mulatie, 2014). Therefore, there is an evidential correlation between drug users and hindrance of HIV prevention in the society.


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