Risky Choices: Causes of Hepatitis
A diagnosis of hepatitis can cause a variety of feelings, maybe even shame, embarrassment or fear. Hepatitis is when the liver is inflamed, usually by a viral infection. High-risk behaviors like intravenous drug use or unprotected, non-monogamous sex can increase your risk of contracting this serious disease.
Types of Hepatitis
There are five different types of hepatitis. The most prevalent types in the United States are type A, type B and type C. Each class of hepatitis is caused by a virus. Type A and B have effective vaccines, while type C doesn’t have a vaccine. Each type of hepatitis can damage your immune system, but type B or C occurs more often in intravenous drug users.
Am I at Risk of Contracting Hepatitis?
Each type of hepatitis has a different mode of transmission. You might think you have little or no risk of becoming infected, but it is still essential to understand how a person can develop a diagnosis of hepatitis.
Fecal matter is the source of hepatitis Type A. Trace amounts can put you at risk. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after meals or in contact with objects.
You can become infected with hepatitis B if you come into contact with the blood, sperm or specific body fluids of a person infected with hepatitis B. Ways of infection are:
- Unprotected, non-monogamous sex
- Shared items like needles, medical equipment or glucose monitors after contamination with infected blood
Hepatitis C is transmitted by blood. For example, if you share infected needles or syringes, you could contract type C.
Vaccines for Hepatitis
Type A and type B have vaccines. You should ask for the vaccines if you have any of these risk factors (here is a complete list of the risks of getting type B). Those who should receive a vaccine include people with increased risk, including:
- Those who use substances like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines or opioids
- Anyone with chronic liver disease, hepatitis B or C, or HIV
- Those who are at risk of infection because of their sexual contacts, such as:
- Partners with hepatitis B
- Short-term, non-monogamous relationships
- Those exposed to blood through:
- Drug use
- Occupation, such as in the medical field
- People with hepatitis B
Type C doesn’t have a vaccine. However, there are medicines that you can take for the rest of your life while also being monitored to make sure your liver doesn’t fail or form cancer cells. Some people report they recovered from hepatitis C without treatment.
Substance Addiction and Hepatitis
Injection drug users are at a higher risk of contracting hepatitis C because they can share needles and syringes. The hepatitis C virus can lead to chronic infection of the liver, leading to a higher risk of death. However, some medicines can treat the viral response.
You are at a higher risk of contracting hepatitis if you are addicted to drugs that require needle injection like:
- Prescription drugs — stimulants or opioids
Addiction & Hepatitis Treatment
Treatment for hepatitis is essential. If you have type B or C you can need more than standard medical care. A combination of medical and mental health care is beneficial to your well-being. Doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and therapists trained in substance addiction can aid you in your treatment journey.
Addiction treatment can help you recognize and address your triggers for substance use. No matter where you are in life or what is in your past, addiction therapy is a safe, non-judgmental space where you can process your thoughts and feelings. Perhaps you need a center that provides privacy, security and luxury. Cliffside Malibu focuses on your unique needsWe keep our patients’ safety and desire for privacy in mind — we have a small number of people receiving care. We guide you through your journey to recovery with care and support.
High-risk behaviors such as an addiction to injectable substances can increase your chances of contracting one of the types of hepatitis because you are more likely to share needles, syringes or have unprotected sex. Your substance addiction doesn’t have to lead to being infected with hepatitis. Seeking addiction treatment can decrease your risk. Cliffside Malibu provides private, secure treatment for those who need and want discretion during their stay. Your safety and comfort are important to us because we know that you can build a strong foundation for recovery when you can focus on healing. Call (855) 403-5641.