Hepatitis C: What You Need to Know in Recovery

The World Health Organization defines the word “hepatitis” as “inflammation of the liver” and reports that hepatitis C is the kind of hepatitis that is caused by the hepatitis C virus. Other varieties of hepatitis are hepatitis A and hepatitis B. While vaccines exist for hepatitis A and B, there are no preventative measures yet available for hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is spread only through contact with an infected person’s blood. This may be through direct contact with the person or by coming into contact with their blood on an object, such as a needle. It is possible for hepatitis C to be spread through sexual intercourse, if blood is present.

For Addicts Not Infected

Because the disease is often spread through the sharing of needles, many addicts who use IV drugs have or will have hepatitis C. Intravenous opiate addicts should seriously consider a treatment program to avoid the dangers inherent in chronic IV drug abuse. Treatment programs such as those employing methadone, Suboxone, and naltrexone (for example, Vivitrol) reduce the risk of contracting hepatitis C because they reduce the risk of injection drug use. Those drug treatments can, in general, also be used by addicts already being treated for hepatitis C.

For Infected Addicts in Recovery

An addict in recovery who has been diagnosed as having hepatitis C should discuss a treatment plan for the disease with his or her physician. Some people with the disease never have any symptoms. Postponing treatment may be an option, therefore, but there is always the risk that the disease will get worse suddenly. At that point, drug treatment might not be as effective as it would have been previously.

The two main drugs used until recently in the treatment of hepatitis C were pegylated interferon and ribavirin. These drugs are effective with many patients. Some people emerge from treatment with no virus remaining in their bodies. The drugs are not 100 percent effective with all patients, however, and they are not guaranteed to remove the entire virus. In addition, the drugs can cause nausea and depression, which can be triggers for relapse.

New drugs are being tested, however, and two recently approved drugs – telaprevir and boceprevir – are showing promise in the disease’s treatment. Ongoing research will no doubt see more new drugs over time.

Addiction Treatment Should Be Comprehensive

All too often, IV drug use and hepatitis C go hand in hand. It should be noted that, when treated properly, they can both be successfully managed. At Axis, we offer a comprehensive treatment program that addresses all of the issues that are obstacles to a balanced and healthy life in recovery. Call us now to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one begin the healing process from addiction.