Hepatitis and Heroin Abuse
If you or a loved one is addicted to heroin, you may not necessarily consider hepatitis as a potential risk or the need to prevent hepatitis as important. After all, there is much more attention given to the dangers of heroin use and HIV contraction risks. The reality is that the risk of getting hepatitis from heroin use should not be ignored. The dangers of hepatitis can be severe and potentially life threatening.
How Heroin Use Increases the Chances of Getting Hepatitis
Even if you have never considered the increased risk of getting hepatitis as one of the many dangers of heroin use, it should still come as no surprise that the connection between this illness and heroin is in the needles that are used to shoot up. The use of heroin and HIV risks are, of course, also linked to the needles used.
Hepatitis is a blood-borne illness, which means that it can be readily transmitted through the sharing of needles and other drug-related paraphernalia, as well as through unprotected sexual contact to a limited degree. While you may think that your chances of getting hepatitis are low because you don’t share needles with other addicts, the reality is that addicts are not in full control of their faculties when they are in the throes of an addiction.
The connection between hepatitis and needles should be enough of a fear to encourage any addict to seek help. The unfortunate reality is that entirely too many addicts and their loved ones aren’t aware of the alarming statistics surrounding hepatitis and needle use. While the connection between heroin and HIV is certainly more widely known, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 70 to 80 percent of all new hepatitis C patients are known intravenous drug users.
Complications of Hepatitis C and Heroin Addiction
Whether you have contracted hepatitis from heroin use or not, the combination of the two can certainly have an adverse and even life-threatening impact on your body. Perhaps the most severe impact on your health is related to your liver and your other vital internal organs. Heroin abuse can result in direct damage to the liver, as well as damage to the blood vessels that keep your liver functioning correctly. Damage to a healthy supply of blood can result in an infection or even patches of dead cells in your liver or other vital organs. Hepatitis also directly impacts the liver, often being responsible for cirrhosis of the liver. Liver cancer and complete liver failure are very possible dangers for those who are living with hepatitis.
If you are living with hepatitis, putting heroin into your body will simply accelerate the damage that hepatitis alone can cause. There is no cure for hepatitis, and most liver damage cannot be remedied with time or medication. What you can do, however, is seek out medical treatment to overcome your heroin addiction and treat the symptoms of hepatitis.
Some addicts may continue to use heroin because they feel that having contracted hepatitis from heroin is essentially a death sentence. This can certainly complicate recovery. However, it is important to remember that while you should take steps to prevent hepatitis, it is not the death sentence today that it might have been 20 years ago.
Getting Heroin Help
If you are interested in learning more about hepatitis, preventing hepatitis or addiction treatment, please call our toll-free helpline. Our counselors can help you find the right treatment program for you and your unique situation.