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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.