The relationship between the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis C and other retroviruses with heroin use goes beyond just intravenous needle use, although that is an appropriate place to begin to take a look at the ancillary ramifications of the heroin plague. In today's post, our facility for drug rehab in Raleigh NC will be focusing on the HIV outbreak that hit Indiana and how drug abuse was a major factor.
In communities all across the United States, from small towns to major cities, these intertwined epidemics continue to spread in concert. Part of the reason for the transference of these diseases is the way heroin is typically introduced into the body. Although the spread of both of these diseases is normally thought to be associated with sexual contact, the threat that heroin poses in the dispersion of blood borne diseases is twofold; dirty needles and lowered inhibitions. The heroin scourge has reached nationwide, even to America’s heartland in states like Indiana and the spread of blood borne viruses like HIV has arrived with it.
The Indiana Epidemic
One population of focus over the past year has been the small Indiana community of Scott County and surrounding areas of Southeastern Indiana. Beginning in the early spring of 2015, the Indiana State Department of Health first issued warnings regarding the spread of HIV in this area of the Hoosier state. Among those warnings was a spotlight on the tiny Scott County area which had gone from averaging less than five new HIV cases per year to a dramatic rise to 150 HIV cases in a community of only 4200. That put Scott County’s HIV positive rate at 3.5% of its population, whereas the national average is approximately .03% (1.2 million out of a 319 million person population.)
Scott County is a small area. It lies only about 80 miles from Indianapolis. Their demographics and rampant drug use were the perfect storm for this HIV outbreak. In Scott County, only about 10% of its residents have a college degree and more than 20% live below the poverty level, a rate much worse than the remainder of the state of Indiana. The outbreak announced by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) in the spring of 2015 helped increase awareness and raise education about the spread of HIV and its corollary with intravenous drug use, but the trend continues.
Heroin use is often a communal entanglement. Folks addicted to heroin often engage in its use with those they are friends or lovers with, but are equally likely to partake in its ingestion with someone who is willing to contribute and share in their addiction. As a result of this, often there is a sharing of needles, which is how heroin is normally introduced into the body. On May 2nd of 2016, the Indiana State Department of Health issued an update regarding Scott County and Southeastern Indiana.
The ISDH noted that a total of 191 people had tested positive for HIV since the outbreak tied to the sharing of needles was identified in early 2015. Indiana law allows for counties to request to allow a syringe exchange program when it is deemed a public emergency and the Scott County took full advantage of this resource. Scott County Commissioners approved a request for this program and the Indiana State Health Commissioner approved the syringe exchange program resulting in tremendously positive impact in that county. The ISDH noted that although the threat was still very real and present, the work the county had put toward both education and making resources for safe drug use available did make significant strides in curbing the outbreak.
The May 2nd, 2016 update by the IDSH still extended the Health Emergency Declaration, allowing Scott County to continue its syringe exchange and clean needle program. The Indiana State Department of Health noted in June of 2015, nearly a year prior to the May, 2016 update, the number of resources allocated to Scott County’s needle exchange program finding that 189 individuals participated in the needle change, there were an estimated 27,878 needles brought in counting new and exchanged needles and 28,671 needles were provided. The IDSH noted in their public release the significant difference the program acheived. According to Dr. R. Kevin Rogers, Scott County’s health officer, it helped efforts to reduce the risks to the community as well as helped keep it under control. The program has reduced harm to the community and decreased new cases of HIV and hepatitis C. If you have a loved one battling heroin addiction, please call our facility for drug rehab in Raleigh NC. Legacy Freedom can and will help them beat addiction.
The “x” factor among drugs in general, and particularly heroin, that is difficult for any amount of education or syringe exchange services to thwart are lowered inhibitions. Like many controlled substances, part of the enjoyment among users is the separation from the real world and immersion into the drug use experience. Part of that experience is the loss of one's inhibitions. This becomes a problem in the usage of a drug like heroin because despite being educated on the ramifications of sharing needles and making resources available to avoid its pitfalls, often the lure of an immediate fix outweighs any rational thought and good decision making.
Individuals engaged in heavy drug use are more inclined to engage in risky behaviors that go beyond just the sharing of needles, such as having unsafe sex with an infected partner, which is a common way of contracting HIV. Many addicts who lack the resources to procure drugs like heroin through financial means may engage in transactional sex, trading their body for drugs or money.
Programs like those embraced by Scott County can certainly assist health professionals in addressing these concerns on the front end and there is a hope these benefits may trickle down over time, but the reckless nature that is inherent with drug abusers makes it an uphill battle to win. With a focus on substance abuse counseling, education and syringe programs like those made available by the IDSH, there is hope to substantially alleviate the spread of ancillary and dangerous effects of drug use like HIV.
Legacy Is the Best Choice for Alternative Drug Rehab in Raleigh NC!
If you’re turning to drugs or sharing needles, give us a call at Legacy Freedom Treatment Center. We are here to help you learn new ways to deal with your addiction. We offer alternative therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, meditation and more. We have flexible options for drug rehab in Raleigh NC that allow you to continue to work or go to school while you seek help. Call our Raleigh rehab facility today to speak with an admissions counselor and get on the path to a better life.