Addiction and Hepatitis
Alcohol and drug abuse are linked closely with hepatitis. This is in the sense that excessive drinking and drug use are some of the common risk factors for the spread of various forms of hepatitis. They can also cause various types of this condition.
Hepatitis refers to a number of bacterial, viral, and metabolically and chemically-induced conditions that lead to the inflammation of liver tissue. Today, there are several types of metabolic hepatitis and 5 major types of viral versions of this condition.
1. Viral Hepatitis
In terms of hepatitis and addiction, there are 3 primary types of viral hepatitis that are associated with drug and alcohol use. They include:
a) Hepatitis B
Also known as HBV, hepatitis B is contracted as a result of coming into contact with bodily fluids that are infected - including vaginal fluids, semen, and blood. In the United States, this condition is most commonly spread through needle sharing and sexual contact.
According to the CDC - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - about 1.2 million Americans currently live with this condition. Of this number, a large percentage is comprised of intravenous drug users.
About 95 to 99 percent of all cases of hepatitis B will resolve without any long lasting effects. However, a small percentage of these cases will become chronic infections that last in the long term.
b) Hepatitis C
Also known as HCV, hepatitis is typically spread in the same way as hepatitis B - through coming into contact with such infected bodily fluids as vaginal fluids, semen, and blood. In the United States, this condition is most commonly spread through needle sharing and sexual contact.
Hepatitis is also considered to be among the most common of all blood borne infections across the globe. In the United States, it affects anywhere between 2 and 4 million people - most of whom are injection drug users.
This problem is so common that anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of all intravenous drug users are currently infected with the condition. It is also important to keep in mind that over 80 percent of all the people who contract hepatitis C will end up developing a chronic infection that lasts for the rest of life.
Luckily, there are modern medications that have made it possible to reduce the virus to almost undetectable levels inside the blood 3 months after you stop treatment. This treatment works for about 50 to 95 percent of all patients irrespective of the duration of their infection.
c) Hepatitis D
Also known as Delta Hepatitis or HDV, hepatitis D is also spread in the same way as hepatitis B and C. Even so, it is a defective virus that only spreads among people who have already contracted hepatitis B. At the time of writing, the condition is rare in the country and only affects a small population of those who have hepatitis B.
2. Metabolic Hepatitis
Metabolic hepatitis refers to a wide variety of liver conditions and diseases that are not spread as a result of infectious organisms. Exposure to some chemicals might cause this condition - particularly if this exposure occurs in the long term. The most common types of metabolic hepatitis include:
a) Alcoholic Hepatitis
If you consume alcohol in the long term, it could cause hepatitis. Alcoholic hepatitis is now the single most common cause of liver cirrhosis in the US with between 10 and 20 percent of long term alcoholics developing the condition.
b) Drug-Induced and Toxic Hepatitis
Some of the chemicals that are commonly found in some substances of abuse could lead to the development of hepatitis. These chemicals are typically found in illicit drugs, prescription medications, and certain inhalants.
The amount and duration of the substance abuse that causes hepatitis will vary widely. However, some of these drugs can cause liver damage only after a couple of years of use while others will be due to a brief exposure.
The Development of Hepatitis
When hepatitis worsens, it will inflame the liver tissue. However, not every infected individual will show symptoms. Even so, it is possible to experience symptoms like yellowing of the eyes and the skin, diarrhea, abdominal pain, constant tiredness, and reduced appetite. This discoloration is known and jaundice and it is among the most easily recognizable and well-known signs of hepatitis.
In the same way, hepatitis can either be chronic or acute. Acute hepatitis will occur in three distinct phases. Over the first phase - the prodromal phase - you will experience flu-like symptoms.
Over the next phase, you will suffer liver specific symptoms like yellowing of the eyes and the skin and dark urine. During this phase, it is also common to suffer from enlarged spleens and livers.
After that, you will move into the recovery phase. In many cases, hepatitis will improve about 3 to 4 months after infection. However, less than 20 percent of all cases will resolve completely.
In case the condition persists longer than 6 months, it could be said to be chronic. It causes the same symptoms as acute hepatitis - although they will typically take much longer to develop.
If you have chronic hepatitis, it will severely impact the functioning of your liver as well as cause severe scarring and damage - a condition that is commonly referred to as cirrhosis. This condition will impede the liver function and potentially lead to fatal conditions.
The symptoms of hepatitis will vary widely based on the type of the condition that you have as well as the stage in which it is at. Some of the symptoms that could point out that you have this health problem include:
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Enlarged liver
- Enlarged pancreas
- Flu-like symptoms
- Pale or Dark stool
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
- Yellow eyes
- Yellowed skin
Since hepatitis is typically associated with sexual activity, alcoholism, and drug abuse, it is recommended that you seek help from an addiction treatment program if you suspect or know that you might have contracted this condition and you are struggling with substance abuse and addiction.
We can help you find the right treatment facility that best fits your overall needs and financial requirements.
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