Painkiller Addiction Increases Cases Of Hepatitis C

Posted at 4:12 PM, Aug 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-08 04:40:33-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Millions of Americans have contracted Hepatitis C, and a good number of them probably haven’t been diagnosed. No vaccine has been created to prevent Hepatitis C and some experts said they’re worried the number of infected could be on the rise.

Eleven pills a day, that was what Susan Fishler needed to keep her liver functioning as well as help fend off itchy rashes, skin lesions, jumbled thoughts and extreme fatigue, all the result of Hepatitis C.

Fishler told Ivanhoe, “Friends of mine would say my skin color was yellow and my eyes were red.”

She used drugs with shared needles years ago and that’s how Susan thought she got Hep C. “When you're in that moment, you're sharing needles. Maybe you don't hit the vein right, or maybe there's a drop of blood that gets transmitted,” Fishler explained.

With millions already infected, the concern was that Hepatitis C cases could have been rising. A CDC study said more people used syringes to inject prescription painkillers, a 12.6% increase.

Helen Dahlhauser, a certified addiction professional, said, “When you’re dealing with needles, you’re much more likely to get Hep C.

When you ingest a drug orally, it takes longer to take effect so, addicts in particular, have found if you grind it up and shoot it up it works faster and the high is greater.”

And even though Susan was far removed from that kind of world, she paid a heavy price.

Hepatitis C can lay dormant in your body for decades before causing liver damage. The CDC says the Southwest and Central Appalachian regions have the nation's highest rates of fatal overdoses by prescription drugs.

Helen Dahlhauser
Certified Addiction Professional/Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist