Painkiller Addiction Hepatitis C

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (KFSN) -- Millions of Americans have it and a good number of them probably don't know it, yet. There's no vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C and now some experts are worried the number of infected could be on the rise.

Eleven pills a day, that's what Susan Fishler needs to keep her liver functioning as well as helping 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 thinks 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, now there's concern Hepatitis C cases may be rising. A CDC study says more people are using syringes to inject prescription painkillers, a 12.6% increase.

Helen Dahlhauser, a certified addiction professional, says, "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 is far removed from that kind of world now, she's still paying 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.

For more information, contact:

Helen Dahlhauser

Certified Addiction Professional/Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

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