The opioid epidemic has resulted in another public health scourge – Hepatitis C.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed new Hepatitis C infections nearly tripled, 2010-2015, and the biggest single contributor was opioid abuse via injection. By the numbers:
- 2010 – 850 confirmed Hepatitis C Infections
- 2015-2436 confirmed cases
- Because testing is limited and symptoms are few, the CDC estimates that the true numbers are much higher – 34,000 Americans may have had the disease in 2015.
- 2015 Hepatitis C deaths – Almost 20,000
- The 20-29 age group has the highest overall number of new infections.
Hepatitis causes liver inflammation. Untreated, it leads to scarring, liver cancer, or even liver failure. Since many opioid addicts also abuse alcohol, the risk of severe liver damage is magnified.
Step-By-Step into Disease
Not coincidentally, the average heroin abuser is also in his/her mid-20s.
And, more than likely, their drug habit started earlier, with prescription opioids. Approximately 80% of new heroin users begin by misusing prescription painkillers.
Then, as prescription pain pills become more expensive and harder to obtain, opioid-dependent people switch to cheap, easier-to-find heroin. Heroin is considered to be the most-addictive substance in the world, and most addicts get high intravenously.
If you are abusing heroin, prescription pain pills, or any other substance, the best thing you can do to protect your health is get professional treatment.
Lasting Recovery outpatient drug and alcohol rehab in San Diego can help.
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