Is Drug Use to Blame for NC’s Hepatitis Surge?

Affordable Drug Rehab in Wilmington NCHepatitis B and C are on the rise in North Carolina. The State Communicable Disease Center has seen a sharp increase in the number of North Carolinians who are now testing positive for these diseases. In 2016, 172 new cases of hepatitis B (HBV) and 186 new cases of hepatitis C (HCV) were reported. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) there are between 2.7 and 3.9 million people living with hepatitis C in the United States, while the number of individuals who have hepatitis B is estimated at 800,000 to 1.4 million.

This severe and life-threatening inflammation of the liver can be treated and managed, but knowing the risk factors and the symptoms of infection are key. NIDA estimates that in the next 40 to 50 years nearly 1 million people with hepatitis C will die from complications related to their untreated chronic disorder. Is the surge due to drug use? Let's find out. If you need drug rehab in Wilmington NC, please call Legacy Freedom for help, today!

How do you get HBV?

  • Sharing syringes or needles
  • Contact with another person's open sores
  • Blood contact
  • Unprotected sex

What puts you at risk for HCV?

  • A history of incarceration
  • Illicit drug injection
  • HIV positive status
  • Unsterile tattoos or piercings
  • Organ transplant or blood transfusion before 1992
  • Born to a mother who was HCV positive
  • In the age group with the highest occurrence of hepatitis C infections - those born between 1945-1965
  • Have worked in healthcare and were exposed to infected blood

The surge of new hepatitis B and C cases in North Carolina leads public health officials to believe that it is directly tied to the state's rising number of opioid addicts who inject their drug of choice. For affordable outpatient drug rehab in Wilmington NC, call Legacy Freedom. State officials are encouraging safe injection practices and offering free testing clinics across the state if certain criteria are met. Needles and other equipment used to inject drugs can pass the infection from one person to another. Those who are addicted are also less likely to practice safe sex. Intercourse with an infected partner can also transfer the virus.

Vaccines exist for hepatitis A and B but not for hepatitis C. Those who are at risk should consider getting vaccinated against HBV. Diagnosing and treating a hepatitis infection is critical for both short term and long term health. Knowing the symptoms of an infection are crucial to getting the medical attention you need right away. The initial onset symptoms for an HBV infection are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Weeks or months of fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Brown or orange discoloration of urine
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Fever
  • Light-colored stool

Almost one-third of people who are hepatitis B positive don't have any symptoms and have no indication that they have the disease. In these cases, the diagnosis usually comes from routine bloodwork. After initial exposure, symptoms can take anywhere from one to six months to develop.

The symptoms of an acute onset of hepatitis C are often overlooked. Much like the symptoms of HBV, hepatitis C often goes undiagnosed in its acute stage due to the lack of symptoms most people experience. However, once the infection exists in the body for several years, the virus does enough damage to the liver to trigger the signs and symptoms of liver disease. The signs and symptoms of chronic hepatitis are:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Easily bruised or bleed easily
  • Jaundice
  • Swelling in lower extremities
  • Spider angiomas
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Bouts of confusion
  • Discolored urine
  • Abdominal fluid buildup

Drug Rehab in Wilmington NCIt is important to note that an acute infection of hepatitis C does not always become chronic and lead to liver disease. In some people, the body performs what is known as a spontaneous viral clearance and removes the HVC from the body after the acute phase. This happens in anywhere from 14 to 50 percent of people, however there is no substitute for safe sex practices or safe injection procedures. Antiviral therapy has been shown to inhibit hepatitis C, but not everyone responds to antiviral treatment or can benefit from it. Many antiviral medications have serious psychological side effects like suicidal thoughts and severe depression that may make them unsafe for some people to use.

Hepatitis C infections which are left untreated or undiagnosed can cause significant damage to the liver. In many cases, cirrhosis or scarring of the liver occurs. After 20 to 30 years of untreated hepatitis C, the liver becomes heavily scarred, and the function of the liver decreases dramatically. Cirrhosis may advance to the point of complete liver failure. HCV has also been linked to the development of liver cancer.

The North Carolina Division of Public Health, in conjunction with the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, is providing free HCV testing at the Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency for those who are uninsured or who are Medicaid eligible. In order to qualify for the free testing service you must meet the following criteria:

  • HIV positive status
  • History of injected drug abuse
  • Current injected drug users
  • Those born between 1945 and 1965

If you are concerned about your risks for hepatitis B or C you should speak to your primary care physician and get tested.

The concern among public health officials in North Carolina has been on the rise since 2009. Since that time the population that has seen the most new hepatitis infections has been the white male population ranging in age from 21 to 40 years old. The western border counties have also seen significant increases. Officials say that injected drug use is the primary risk factor.

Are you an injection drug user? If so, Legacy Freedom of Wilmington can help. Our holistic approach to alcohol and drug rehab is unlike anything else you have tried before. We are not a twelve step program. We believe in treating the whole person not just your drug addiction. No matter how many times you have tried to stop and failed, our proven treatment methods can get you sober and help you learn to live a purpose filled and healthy lifestyle.

What makes Legacy Freedom different? Affordable drug rehab in Wilmington NC!

We put you at the center of your treatment program, not your addiction. Your Life-Purpose coach and your care team will help you get to the root of your addiction through one-on-one talk therapy and group therapy. Helping you understand why you need to use is crucial to recovery. Whether you use to cope with the pain of childhood abuse, trauma, PTSD, depression or anxiety, our staff will help you identify and treat the co-occurring disorders that feed your addiction.

Healing your addiction includes healing your body and spirit as well. Together with our on-staff dietician and physical therapist, you will learn to nourish your body through diet and proper exercise. Repairing the ravages of addiction in your body opens your spirit up for renewal and learning new coping mechanisms through our extensive alternative therapy offerings. Together with your Life-Purpose coach you can choose from more than ten life changing therapies that include inner child work, adventure therapy, aromatherapy, tai chi and more.

The help you or your loved one need is just a phone call or a click away. Connect with Legacy freedom today and begin your journey to sobriety with drug rehab in Wilmington NC you can trust!

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