Substance use and HIV are caught in a destructive downward spiral. Drugs and alcohol lower inhibitions and impair judgment, often leading to risky behaviors that can promote the spread of HIV. And HIV-positive individuals frequently turn toward drugs and alcohol for comfort.
Breaking this vicious cycle is one of the most important things we can do to protect our community and lend our support to the individuals struggling with depression, low self-esteem, and other issues that help drive substance abuse.
Substance Abuse is a Real Concern
It’s estimated that drug and alcohol abuse within the LGBTQ community is two to three times higher than among the general population. Among the HIV-positive population, these numbers are even higher.
Addressing substance abuse problems is vital to the health of our community for several reasons:
- Substance use puts healthy people at risk of contracting HIV.
- There are health risks associated with drug and alcohol use, especially in HIV-positive individuals whose immune systems are already compromised.
- Some drugs can interfere with the efficacy of anti-HIV medication.
Substance abuse is a symptom of a larger problem. People who are suffering from depression or other emotional distress deserve compassionate help and healthy coping mechanisms, and these can be dealt with through counseling.
Judgment-Free Counseling Services
The outpatient counseling offered by UNM Truman Health Services is judgment-free and focuses on helping patients overcome their difficulties, not shaming them for their decision. We can help recovering users deal with triggers and make alternative, healthier choices. We can also provide guidance in building new relationships and having the courage to leave unhealthy substance-oriented friendships behind.
If you or someone you know is HIV-positive and struggling with substance use, you don’t need to deal with it alone. Contact UNM Truman Health Services to learn more about our counseling services.