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Substance Abuse and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

It is not uncommon for individuals who struggle with substance abuse to let one’s hygiene, sense of self, and practice of safe sex to fall by the wayside.

Additionally, in order to feed one’s addiction, when desperate, an individual may even turn to prostitution. Part of the definition of addiction is literally no regard for anything, other than curbing one’s substance abuse craving. This does not preclude the possible life-threatening and long-term consequences derived from one’s actions he or she may take to obtain his or her next high.

The fact that people are in a treatment program for being consistently inebriated or intoxicated, no matter the cost to oneself or others, implies that the individual has not been entirely present in his or her life for some length of time. Not having one’s full faculties intact to be able to assert his or her physical limits, in regards to sexual encounters or bad decisions, can be the impetus for procuring a Sexually Transmitted Infection. A lack of personal accountability and not being present can leave a person in a precarious situation.


According to many studies, there are a number of types of Sexually Transmitted Infections that people who struggle with substance abuse or addiction are more likely to encounter or contract. These can include but are not limited to the following: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Chlamydia, Genital Herpes, Syphilis, Genital Warts, Gonorrhea, and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). One of the reasons that people who are in the substance abuse and addiction population are more susceptible to Sexually Transmitted Infections, is due to the fact that they often ignore, or do not notice the symptoms. This, in turn, perpetuates the transmission of Sexually Transmitted Infections, whether it be via sexual encounter or passed through blood or other bodily fluids.

It has been noted, that people who suffer from substance abuse and addiction are at a higher risk for contracting both life-changing diseases, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV, in addition to other Sexually Transmitted Infections, as listed above.

Some the Sexually Transmitted Infections transmissions occur from injecting drugs. For example, ten percent of the new HIV diagnoses each year is due to injection drug use. Furthermore, forty percent of injection drug users will contract Hepatitis C within the first two years of injection, and between fifty to eighty percent will contract Hepatitis C within the first five years of injection.

People who do not engage in injection drug use are also at a much higher risk of contracting a Sexually Transmitted Infection, than those who do not abuse drugs or alcohol. The higher possibility of exchange of bodily fluids or blood that occurs in people who participate in injection drug use is slightly mitigated for those that do not inject drugs, but the abuse of a substance still puts them at high risk for exposure to a Sexually Transmitted Infection. This is due to a lack of inhibition in individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, as studies have shown that they are much more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior.


People who go through a treatment program will most likely begin the process with detox. Part of the initial stages of detox is for a medical professional to obtain a detailed health history from the individual in need of treatment. If a person undergoes detox in a medical setting, it is highly possible that he or she will be tested for any Sexually Transmitted Infections. If a person decides to detox without the help of a medical professional, there will most likely be a detailed intake process at the subsequent treatment center. The treatment facility will also request an extensive health history of the patient, upon admittance. Depending on the findings for each person, testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections will typically be offered to the individual. It is important for a person who has a dual diagnosis (substance abuse and a Sexually Transmitted Infection) to seek treatment in a facility that is able to properly accommodate.

Substance abuse and many sexually transmitted infections can be extremely serious. It is imperative for a person suffering from addiction or substance abuse to get help immediately. If a person finds him or herself in a situation where he or she has engaged in promiscuous sexual encounters (either in relation to his or her substance abuse problem or not) it is also essential for him or her to seek medical attention. Sexually Transmitted Infections have the propensity to spread exponentially, harming an exorbitant number of individuals if left untreated.


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