Protect Yourself From Hepatitis While Injecting Drugs
What Is Hepatitis?
The increase is attributed mainly to white adults in their 20s and 30s who live in non-urban areas. In many cases, these people were addicted to prescription drugs but then switched to intravenous opioid abuse, which has a much higher risk of infection.5
Transmission From Drug Use
In addition, if you have hepatitis and inject drugs, you should consider addiction treatment. You can minimize the risks of additional hepatitis contraction (and other health problems) from continued IV drug use.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is effective for treating opioid addiction. You can even undergo MAT if you take antiviral medication. MAT combines counseling and the use of medications, such as buprenorphine and methadone, to address opioid withdrawal symptoms and treat opioid addiction. Medications help normalize your brain chemistry, block the euphoric sensations associated with opioid abuse so you are less likely to use, and alleviate cravings. Counseling helps to address the underlying issues that may have led to or contributed to your addiction and provides you with the tools you’ll need to live a healthier, drug-free life.9
Tips for Preventing Hepatitis
Testing and Vaccinations
If you use intravenous drugs, you should think about getting tested for hepatitis. Testing involves providing a small blood sample. This sample is tested for the presence of foreign substances known as antigens and antibodies that indicate you have (or had) the virus that causes hepatitis.12
You should also consider having a vaccination for hepatitis A and B. The combination hep A and B vaccine is effective for at least 10 years, and if you complete the full series of vaccinations will likely be effective for the rest of your life. You receive 3 injections: the initial dose, another dose one month later, and another dose at 6 months. It can also be given in a series of 4 injections: the initial dose, and then doses that occur after 7 days, 21 to 30 days, and one year.13
What if I Have Hepatitis?
If you have hepatitis (or suspect that you might), you should see your doctor to determine whether you need treatment.
If you or someone you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol, consider seeking help at a drug rehabilitation program. You can get treatment for drug use as well as get tested for hepatitis and other health conditions.