The Truth about HIV Transmission among Addicts and Alcoholics: Charlie Sheen’s HIV Announcement on the Today Show
After watching the Today Show[i] interview with Charlie Sheen, I felt a profound sense of sadness. I should be desensitized to this by now, witnessing firsthand the wreckage that comes with drug addiction and alcoholism, but I’m not. I wish I was, but I am not.
What’s important to take away from this is that you don’t have to be a drug addict or an alcoholic to create wreckage; you merely have to be intoxicated. Being under the influence affects your decision making. It’s like getting a bad idea in the middle of a bad idea, and that’s fertile ground for creating wreckage in our lives. Having high-risk, unprotected sex when intoxicated doesn’t seem like a bad idea at the time, but neither does getting behind the wheel of a car. The important take away here is that you don’t have to be a low bottom drug addict or alcoholic in order to create this type of wreckage in your life, after all, there are plenty non-alcoholics that get DUIs every day. It’s bad judgment through intoxication. It doesn’t have to be full blown addiction or alcoholism.
Having said that, I think it is important to distinguish between the cultures of different drugs of choice, specifically cocaine versus heroin, in full-blown addiction. First it’s important to note that snorting cocaine is euphoric. Smoking it is roughly 10 times more euphoric and shooting it is roughly 10 times more euphoric than smoking it. The same is true of heroin. These are the delivery systems, or how you introduce these drugs into your body.
But the cultures of cocaine and heroin addiction couldn’t be more different. A heroin addict is nodding out and constipated, so basically, they’re passed out and a little uncomfortable, and that is not very conducive to sexual activity. The cocaine addict’s drug culture or experience is the polar opposite. The minute the cocaine addict takes that first hit of crack cocaine, s/he’s peeling clothes off and needs physical stimulation. This person is highly sexualized. So if you’re smoking crack with a room full of porn stars and prostitutes, sex is inevitable, and it’s usually only a matter of time before someone’s sticking a needle in your arm.
Even though there are far more cases of intravenous heroin than cocaine use resulting in contracting the HIV virus, due to the sexualized nature of the crack cocaine lifestyle, high risk unprotected sex, is typically the way the HIV virus is attained when smoking crack.