Hepatitis is not talked about often enough when it comes to drug addiction. The disease which complicates liver function is a reality for drug users, specifically those who turn to intravenous drug use. Sharing needles is one of the main contributors to Hepatitis A, B, or C in those who are addicted to injecting drugs. Even sharing a bottle of liquor with someone who has hepatitis can put you at risk for contracting the viral infection.
Hepatitis is a disease of the liver which can be caused by toxicity or a viral infection. There are five kinds of hepatitis which are the most common types of viral hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E. Each type varies slightly and requires a variety in treatment.
- Hepatitis A: This hepatitis is picked up through contaminated substances like food and water. There’s a reason bathrooms at restaurants have signs for employers to wash their hands. If fecal matter gets into food or water and is consumed, it can lead to hepatitis A. Hepatitis A is also transmitted through intravenous drug use. Unlike the other kinds of viral hepatitis, Hepatitis A doesn’t develop any further than an immediate infection.
- Hepatitis B: Someone who has Hepatitis B got it from someone else and will transmit it to the next person through the spread of bodily fluids which includes blood and sexual excrement.
- Hepatitis C: Spread through blood, this form of Hepatitis does develop into a bigger problem, developing a severe infection which can cause liver damage. Most often, this is the kind of hepatitis contracted by intravenous drug users who share needles.
- Hepatitis D: There is a requirement for contracting Hepatitis D and that is contracting Hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis E: Similar to hepatitis A, this form of hepatitis is spread through contamination where fecal matter is in consumed substances like water and food. Otherwise, it can be contracted through the consumption of undercooked meats.
Hepatitis is not one of the many kinds of disease or disorder which makes itself immediately obvious. Many millions of people live with hepatitis for many years without ever experiencing a symptom. For intravenous drug users, this makes sharing needles especially dangerous. Someone with hepatitis could be transmitting the disease without knowing it, putting other peoples’ lives at risk. Though life-taking complications aren’t common, they can take place. Symptoms will mirror the symptoms of liver complications which can range anywhere from a disturbed appetite to jaundice, exhaustion, and more.
Thanks to modern medicine, there are vaccines to prevent hepatitis from being contracted in the first place. Even for the more severe cases of hepatitis, there are medications and medical treatments which can reduce symptoms or eliminate the disorder entirely.
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