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The Treatment of Patients with Alcoholism or Other Drug Dependencies, and Who have or are at Risk for AIDS

Adoption Date:
October 1, 1985

Public Policy Statement on the Treatment of Patients with Alcoholism or Other Drug Dependencies and Who Have or Are at Risk For Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)


**Note: This historical policy statement is available as part of ASAM's Policy Archives, but it is no longer considered current ASAM policy. Please contact ASAM's advocacy staff at advocacy@asam.org for questions related to ASAM's position on this topic.

The American Society on Addiction Medicine (ASAM) recognizes that some patients in need of treatment for alcoholism and/or other drug dependencies may have Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), AIDS Related Complex (ARC), or may have a positive test for HTLV-III antibodies. Intravenous drug users are a high-risk group for AIDS. The use of mood altering drugs (i.e. alcohol, marijuana and perhaps others) may depress the immune system and affect prevention and treatment of AIDS.

• ASAM strongly recommends that physicians, other health professionals, and programs for the treatment of alcoholism and other drug dependencies provide treatment for these patients.

• Case by case assessment of the medical status of each patient should be made to determine physical capacity to undergo treatment for alcoholism and other drug dependencies. Continuing medical follow-up by a physician familiar with AIDS is recommended.

• Currently there is anxiety among staffs and other patients about associating with AIDS patients. All personnel, including clinical, dietary, maintenance and housekeeping, should be educated with the latest medical data.

• Patients with AIDS do not require isolation techniques any different from patients with active Hepatitis B. Guidelines for the protection of staff and other patients from Hepatitis B should be followed. Caps, masks, gloves and other kinds of protective wear are not necessary in routine contact, e.g., blood pressure checks and group therapy.

• Continued medical monitoring after detoxification period is recommended for these patients.

• The principle of confidentiality, critical to all aspects of alcoholism and other drug dependencies treatment is particularly important with these patients.


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  1. jack fleming Sep 25, 2015 - 11:07 PM
    what is the required amount of hours or treatment for level 3.5 residential treatment
  2. Michelle Holcomb Nov 04, 2012 - 11:09 PM
    Our county in Michigan suffers greatly with the disease of addiction/ alcoholism. After doing research in our county - having had an experience with a family member along with myself - the population (over crowded) in our county jail has 75% drug / alcohol related charges. Most of these people get out of jail and come to our NA meetings in our county because they are required by court to do so. We have a large problem with Meth users and Meth labs in our county. We have programs such as Meth Diversion program - (no longer funding available), and drug court which helps. But it's not treating the problem or the individual - and after 4 years of watching this happen - they all relapse, or die or end up back in jail. I also did some research on our county - and there is no recovery house in or around our area. They have a few sober houses - but not enough to house the numerous individuals in need. I know this because my daughter was in a recovery house for 3 months. These homes are not regulated - they are volunteer based. My daughter had access to drugs in this house. They also only had 10 beds and that was squeezing it tight. One bathroom, which was a problem. How in the world - I asked myself, are we going to help these people with so little resources? I have been fighting tooth and nail to help people in recovery and am involved heavily in the NA program in our county. Also in our area of South West Michigan. What I am writing you about is - I would like to know who it is I have to talk to about starting up a HOUSE OF RECOVERY in our area for addiction/alcoholism. I realize it would need funding, staff, and everything it requires to meet guidelines, and certifications. There are people dying like flies in our county - everyone is broke, there is no funding. Not sure where to start, but I have this burning in my gut to try to do something about this. It has become a passion. Every day I am grateful to be alive as I am in recovery myself. I sponsor many others, but there is only so much one person can do. I need help, and I am asking you for help. Thank you for your consideration, and please feel free to contact me anytime. hess.michelle@ymail.com. God bless you.
  3. Susan Awad Sep 24, 2012 - 01:15 PM

    Ms. Spano,


    Thank you for your comment and congratulations. You may contact the American Board of Addiction Medicine (http://www.abam.net/ or 301-656-3378) to discuss more about your work and the initiation of your school.


    Thank you for the work you are doing!

  4. Licda. Priscilla Spano Sep 07, 2012 - 10:49 PM

    Very interesting to find out that finally the addictive field is receiving the attention it should have. 


    We have a center and have being in the addictive field for the last 18 years under the Minnesota Model fundaments .


    I will appreciate if you could give me a phone number I can call in order to explain more about our work and interest in closer interaction with your Association, as we are initiating a School of Medicine for Addiction and Related Disorders,  in alliance with a prestigious university in our country, Costa Rica.


    My best regards and congratulations for your wonderful work,


    Licda.  Priscilla Spano


    Centro Paso a Paso


    Tel:  305 735 8265  (Miami, Costa Rica)















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