A person receiving antiretroviral therapy for human immunodeficiency viral (HIV) infection may abuse drugs or alcohol. Abuse of drugs or alcohol can seriously impact the effectiveness and success of the therapy that the person is receiving.

Problems with antiretroviral regimens:

(1) usually complex

(2) often lifelong

(3) may be associated with unpleasant side effects


Problem drugs include:

(1) alcohol

(2) methamphetamine

(3) cocaine

(4) heroin or other injection drugs


Problems that can occur during periods of drug or alcohol abuse:

(1) decreased compliance, especially during binge use, with disease progression

(2) episodic medication use results in an increased risk for developing a resistant strain

(3) feelings of invincibility with increased risk taking behavior and decreased personal protection, with exposure to sexually transmitted diseases and other infectious agents

(4) vomiting or diarrhea, which affects absorption of oral agents

(5) malnutrition

(6) risk for drug interactions

(7) worsening of anxiety, depression or paranoia

(8) risk for physical dependence with problems of withdrawal

(9) exposure to chemical toxins or impurities in drugs


All of these problems can seriously impact any attempt to treat the patient.

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