Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a mostly unthought-of part of addiction and recovery. Those with an active addiction don’t practice safe sex. Meanwhile, addicts in early-sobriety are also likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. Those in recovery and their families need to educate themselves about STD facts and statistics that shed some light on these diseases.
What are STDs?
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that spread during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. These extremely common and lots of people have them without showing symptoms. Without treatment, STDs can lead to serious health problems.
Luckily, most of them are easy to treat. While STDs affect people of all walks of life, those struggling with addiction or in recovery are among the most vulnerable. Drugs and alcohol lower inhibitions, which leads to people to engage in risky or unprotected sexual behavior that increases their chance of infection. Not to mention, substance abusers often maintain multiple sex partners.
Types of STDs
Not all STDs are solely spread through sexual encounters. Active addicts also expose themselves to syringes and other artifacts that can transfer fluids from one person to another. The use of infected syringes, risky behaviors, and other aspects are what place addicts at such high risk for developing STDs. The most common ones include:
- Genital warts
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- HIV & AIDS
- HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
- Pubic Lice
5 Interesting STD Facts You Should Know
Even though we learn some STD facts in high school, we still don’t know the whole picture. Most people don’t pay attention to the dangers of STDs or are only focused on big names like HIV and AIDS. However, people still don’t know that there are over 25 different kinds of STDs, for example. The more we read STD facts and statistics, the more we’ll be able to teach prevention skills.
1. The United States Leads in STDs
It’s not surprising that the US has one of the highest STD infections among industrialized countries. Despite investing more money in health care and prevention, there are more than 20 million new STDs every year. People estimate that these new cases cost the US healthcare system almost $16 billion a year.
2. HIV Isn’t the Most Contagious STD
Most people believe HIV is one of the most contagious sexually transmitted diseases. However, hepatitis B, which can lead to chronic liver disease and even liver cancer. In fact, hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than HIV. Around 2.2 million Americans have hepatitis B due to exposure to bodily fluids. About one out of 20 people in the United States will get hepatitis B during their lives.
3. Most People with STDs Don’t Know
Here’s the scary thing about STDs, most people are asymptomatic. Sometimes symptoms are mild, and people don’t seek treatment. Other times people don’t believe these are dangerous diseases and label them as a skin rash or a widespread infection. Most of the time, people don’t get tested for STDs until it’s too late.
Even more shockingly, most doctors don’t even routinely check for STDs, which results in more people likely spreading the disease without noticing. For the addict population, STD check-ups are also less likely as their addiction symptoms, or withdrawal signs are often their top priority and concern.
4. STDs Aren’t Curable
Perhaps the biggest misconception about STDs is that they’re curable. Only bacterial STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis respond to antibiotics cures. Pubic lice and scabies respond to insecticides.
However, viral STDs, including hepatitis B, herpes, genital warts, and HIV are incurable; these can only be managed. Living with a sexually transmitted disease is possible but it takes a toll on your physical and emotional health. Nowadays, sexually active people have access to HPV vaccinations to reduce their risks.
5. Untreated STDs Can Be Dangerous
Similar to other conditions, untreated STDs bring life-long consequences. Women experience these more frequently than men. Women can struggle with pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and even cervical cancer. Both men and women have a higher risk of developing liver disease, heart and blood vessel damage, and other chronic illnesses.
Pregnant women can experience premature delivery and miscarriages if they have an untreated sexually transmitted disease they might not be aware of. Not to mention, they risk passing the STD onto their children.
Surprising STD Statistics
Unfortunately, STD statistics show that these are not slowing down. It’s not surprising, given that STD facts show most people don’t get tested or even know they have the disease. Despite efforts from federal and local governments, along with healthcare organizations, STD cases continue to rise.
- In 2018, a total of 1,758,668 cases of chlamydia, a 19% increase since 2014. Gonorrhea cases saw a 63% increase since 2014.
- In 2018, STD cases surged for the fifth consecutive time, reaching an all-time high.
- In 2018, 115,045 cases of all stages of syphilis were reported, including 35,063 cases of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis, the most infectious stages of the disease.
- Women are four times more likely to become infected with an STD than they are to get pregnant.
- There are about 20 million new sexually transmitted infections in the United States each year.
- More than half of Americans will get an STD in their lifetime.
- One out of 20 people in the United States will get hepatitis B during their lives.
- About one in six people ages 14 to 49 has genital herpes.
- Experts think up to 90% of people who have herpes don’t even know they have it.
- Young people, between the ages of 15 to 24, account for 50% of all new STDs.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are more than 110 million STIs among men and women in the US.
Treatment Options for STD
Treatment options for STDs vary widely and are specific to the condition. It’s essential to seek medical attention to receive supervised treatment that helps control and manage the symptoms. Most treatment options include antibiotics, ointments, and other solutions that fight the infection. For viral STDs, most of them have medical protocols that can help manage the disease.
Treating the Addiction
When we talk about STDs among the addiction community, we have to cater to both problems simultaneously. It’s paramount that addicts receive the medical attention they need to manage their STDs. However, at the same time, they need to start working on their recovery process to control their addictive behaviors and risky patterns.
Speaking with an addiction treatment specialist as soon as possible is the best way to start seeking help for addiction. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our drug addiction recovery programs include:
- Medical Detox: In this clinically supervised detox process at treatment centers, we ensure the patient’s safety and make the withdrawal phase as comfortable as possible by minimizing withdrawal symptoms and using medication-assisted treatment services to guarantee a complete detoxification process.
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Since many long-term addicts often struggle with mental health disorders, a dual diagnosis program can get them the help needed to treat both conditions simultaneously.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Most of the time, these sorts of addictions develop due to compulsive behaviors that must be treated at the source, with CBT being one of the most popular evidence-based treatments to treat addiction.
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs: When patients are looking to seek addiction treatment while maintaining daily obligations like work, school, or caregiving, IOPs are a more flexible option that still gives people access to the help they need.
- Long-term Recovery Programs: With long-term recovery assistance, patients can have the ongoing support they need to maintain long-lasting sobriety. Recovery programs are crucial to relapse prevention.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, seek help immediately. Contact Lighthouse Recovery Institute today and speak with our addiction specialists to learn more about our comprehensive and personalized addiction treatment programs.
We believe in treating each patient in a case-by-case scenario because no two addiction stories are alike. Start walking towards your recovery, and we’ll be here supporting you and your family every step of the way. Please don’t wait another day to start addiction treatment, primarily when your life depends on it.