Sharing Drugs: What is my Risk of Developing Hepatitis? 

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Hepatitis is a devastating disease that directly affects the liver, which is caused by an infection with the Hepatitis virus.  A person cannot contract the hepatitis virus from casual contact, such as handshaking, coughing, sneezing, or hugging.  Rather, the hepatitis virus is spread through more invasive mechanisms, such as blood transfusions or organ transplants or coming in contact with the blood or feces of an infected person.  However, the most common way for a person to contract Hepatitis C is by needle sharing, or using others needles for the injection of illegal drugs.

Hepatitis is Becoming More Common

doctor and teenUnfortunately, in many drug using circles,  needle sharing is a common experience and behavior that is done in attempt to save money or get many uses out of a drug vile.  Understanding the potential consequences that may arise from sharing needles with a person who is infected with the hepatitis virus is important for awareness and prevention.

The most common types of Hepatitis are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.  While each of these diseases are caused by different strains of the Hepatitis virus, the resulting symptoms are similar.  Many individuals who contract Hepatitis will experience yellowing of the skin and eyes, joint pain, gastrointestinal distress (such as nausea, stomach pain, or vomiting), fatigue, weakness, fever, loss of appetite and more.  There are not currently any cures for Hepatitis, though there are medications that can help treat many of the symptoms associated with Hepatitis.

juvenile addictionReducing your risk of contracting Hepatitis can happen by avoiding the injection of drug needles.  Hepatitis are serious illnesses that can severely impact your health for the rest of your life if contracted.  If you are using drugs, never share needles, syringes, or any other type of devices that may have potentially come in contact with another person’s blood.  This is a crucial step towards preventing contamination with Hepatitis.  Another important step is seeking out professional help for drug seeking behavior.  By addressing the root of the problem, you can live a drug free life and reduce your risks of many associated consequences.


Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Sharing drugs can be a common behavior among users.  If you are offered drugs from other individuals, what are appropriate and effective ways to protect yourself from potential negative consequences?


Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 20, 2015. Published on