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From the Opioid Addiction Crises to Infectious Disease Epidemics

Home » Blog » Drug Addiction » From the Opioid Addiction Crises to Infectious Disease Epidemics

Every year, in the U.S., opioid addiction takes thousands of lives. Specialists talk about an opioid addiction crisis, and there are no signs of it going away. Apparently, this crisis is not the only one we should be worried about. The number of viral and bacterial infections associated with opioid abuse has skyrocketed as well. From the opioid addiction crises to infectious disease epidemics.

Healthcare centers report an increase in the number of HIVG, hepatitis, and infections with Staphylococcus aureus. Any progresses made in preventing and treating these infections tend to become useless in the case of patients addicted to opioids.

Addiction prevents the infected to seek treatment. Some do not acknowledge the symptoms and delay seeking treatment. Others are so stigmatized by their addiction and society’s view on it that they feel unworthy to live.

Opioid addiction is not a lifestyle choice but disease and should be treated as such. Opioid addicts are people who need adequate treatment and support to recover. Without these, they are at risk of developing infectious diseases and passing them on to others.

Staphylococcus Aureus Infection and Opioid Addiction

Opioid addicts often share needles and do not clean their skin when injecting themselves. This makes them easy prey for bacteria like S. aureus.  Once it enters the bloodstream, the bacteria can easily reach the heart and damage its valves. In severe cases, only a heart transplant can save the patient.

A recent study focusing on drug use–associated infective endocarditis (DUA-IE) reports a nearly 13-fold increase in related hospitalizations and surgeries. This infectious disease is not only threatening lives but also depleting budgets.

HIV and Opioid Addiction

Common practices among opioid addicts, needle sharing and unprotected sex facilitate the transmission of infectious diseases like HIV. While a definitive cure for HIV has yet to be found, opioid addiction often prevents the patient’s access to treatment and reduces treatment options.

While the HIV virus itself is known to affect the immune system, research suggests that some opioids have this effect as well. The immunosuppressive effects of opioids were recently confirmed by a comprehensive review.  By suppressing the immune system, opioids make the person consuming them more vulnerable to the infections whose spreading they already facilitate.

Hepatitis C and Opioid Addiction

Hepatitis C is the infectious disease causing the most deaths in the U.S. The number of infections has been rising at an alarming rate since 2010. The opioid epidemic seems to be the main culprit, and research confirms it.

According to a study published in February 2019, found a link between OxyContin reformulation and the spike in hepatitis C infections. Apparently, the reformulation determined many OxyContin addicts to switch to heroin and, thus, increased the risk of infection.

In states with a high incidence of OxyContin misuse, hepatitis infection rates grew by 222%. The increase was of only 75% in states with below-median misuse incidence. These findings suggest that opioid addiction prevention and treatment could prevent and reduce the incidence of hepatitis C infections.

Acknowledging and Treating Opioid Addiction as a Main Step to Preventing Infectious Disease

Addiction to opioids is a disease in itself. The drugs harm the body and mind of the person consuming them. Infectious diseases can only make things worse. The sad part is that, oftentimes, the addict unknowingly infects their loved ones as well.

In recovery centers, both patients addicted to opioids and their loved ones can receive the guidance they need to diagnose and treat infectious diseases. In fact, patients seeking addiction treatment are tested for infectious diseases during the screening process.

If the infection is confirmed, their families will receive a recommendation for testing as well. The treatment the patient receives will be adjusted to their particular case, taking into account any other diagnoses.

If the tests come out negative, the patient will receive information and advice on preventing infection. In many cases, a simple consultation with recovery specialists can save lives. Patients who realize the risks they are exposing themselves and their loved ones to agree to receive treatment. Those who have already been infected receive timely treatment and avoid transmitting the infection to others.

Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones from Infectious Disease by Treating Opioid Addiction

Now you know the risks and how to diminish them. All you have to do is seek help. The team at Asheville Recovery Center can help you get tested for infectious disease and overcome opioid addiction. To prove our support, we provide free preliminary consultations. Schedule yours now and take the first step towards protecting yourself and your loved ones against the infectious diseases linked to opioid use!