A Surge in Hepatitis C Cases as a Result of Increased Use of Heroin
As the battle to control drug abuse continues, public health officials are concerned about the surge in hepatitis C cases that appear to be linked to the increased use of heroin. Problematic in rural areas, the issue is forcing officials in states across the country to consider many ways to combat the problem, such as needle exchanges and funding for additional treatment programs.
The Startling Statistics
From Maine to California, there appears to be no end in sight for this problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the national rate for hepatitis C cases is 0.7 per 100,000 residents. However, in states such as Maine that rate has skyrocketed to 6 cases per every 100,000 residents, almost 900 percent above the national average. Other states that are having tremendous problems with hepatitis C cases linked to heroin use include:
In Massachusetts, the number of hepatitis C cases has risen from 10 in 2009 up to 174 as recently as 2013. In certain counties within Indiana, the number of cases has risen from 70 cases in 2013 to 130 in 2014, with that number expected to be exceeded in 2015. And in Kentucky, the rate of acute hepatitis C cases averages 5.1 for every 100,000 residents, narrowly trailing Maine.
Increased Heroin Usage
What has made this problem so difficult to combat has been the large increases in the number of drug addicts using heroin as their drug of choice. According to the CDC, the number of heroin users in the United States increased more than 150 percent between 2007-2013, and the number of acute hepatitis C cases grew 273 percent over that same period. With more than 19,000 people dying from hepatitis C in 2013, which is up from just over 16,000 in 2009, the CDC has noted that the increase in heroin users has been a direct link to the increased number of hepatitis C cases within that same period of time.
For those who find themselves addicted to heroin and at risk for or already having developed hepatitis C, the best course of treatment involves spending time in an inpatient drug treatment program. Trying to kick the heroin habit by one’s self is virtually impossible, along with being extremely dangerous. There are many benefits to seeking inpatient treatment for heroin addiction, which include:
- Medical supervision during the withdrawal process
- Ability to get treatment for hepatitis C
- Working with other addicts going through similar circumstances
- Individualized treatment plans
- Staying within a controlled and safe environment
If you or someone you know is dealing with heroin addiction as well as the effects of hepatitis C, it is imperative they get the help they need as soon as possible. While taking that first step of asking for help can be extremely tough, it is necessary in order to let the healing begin. By doing so today, tomorrow and the days ahead can begin to be healthier and happier.