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Meth vs. Meds: A Tale of Self-Preservation

September 1, 2011

Richard Cordova III

Richard Cordova III

Self-preservation: The protection of oneself from harm or death, esp. regarded as a basic instinct in human beings and animals.

Self-preservation.

Honestly, that's exactly why I always took my HIV meds, no matter how high I was. Even though, in the beginning, I had no idea how my HIV medications worked, deep down I knew they were the only things that were going to keep me alive.

At the time, I had no stability in my life -- I was using crystal meth daily, my housing situation was tenuous at best, and I had no job. Not exactly a recipe for medication adherence!

My disease was, in the beginning, my shame. No one knew about my positive status and I was happy to keep it that way. The only people in my life on a regular basis were other crystal meth users; even if they had known about my disease, I don't think they would have been the ones to make sure I was taking my medication.

To make sure that I remembered to take my pills, I would set my alarm on my phone and slyly take my medication at my allotted time when no one was looking. I didn't think twice about it, I just took them, without question.

While the instability of daily drug use and being unemployed are now in the rearview mirror, I still like to have that daily reminder, so I don't forget to take my pills! I use an online birth control reminder service, of all things, to send me a text message reminder. It's kinda funny and it's free, so why not! I think it sends out only one reminder a day, so if you have to take your pills more than once a day, it won't work for you, but you can check it out if you like.

If I had to offer one piece of advice for someone who is struggling with adherence, it would be to set reminders! Take your medication when prescribed NO MATTER WHAT. It saved my life and it can save yours!

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See Also
6 Reasons Why People Skip Their HIV Meds
Word on the Street: Advice on Adhering to HIV Treatment
More Personal Accounts of Staying Adherent to HIV/AIDS Medications
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Brent (Calgary) Tue., Oct. 22, 2013 at 11:53 pm EDT
I can echo your story - I was a crackhead for 7 years and somehow managed to take my meds 2 a day and remain undetectable. Everything else in my life went to hell but I kept up with the meds. Now 8 clean I thank my higher power.
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Comment by: Mark S. King (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Mon., Sep. 12, 2011 at 11:37 am EDT
When I was being admitted into drug rehab, they asked me "why are you here?" My answer was "self preservation." If only I had concentrated more on that when I was an active addict.

My drug regimen wasn't followed at all when I was using; they just weren't the drugs I was interested in and self-care was beyond me. I admire your commitment to your HIV treatment even in your most trying times.
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