Opioid Addiction Crisis Fuels Another: Hep C

Addiction usually leaves a wake of chaos, and all kinds of casualties - marriages, jobs, health. Most tragically, the current crisis of opioid addiction (to prescription painkillers and heroin) in Rhode Island has cost too many lives. Well over 160 Rhode Islanders have died from accidental opioid overdoses so far this year. Hundreds more might have joined them had it not been for the rescue drug naloxone.

Unforeseen consequence
But here's another unforeseen consequence of this epidemic of opioid addiction: hepatitis C. There's been a surge in new users of injection drugs, mainly heroin. Along with it, the CDC reports a surge of new cases of hepatitis C. I spoke with the head of the CDC's division of viral hepatitis, Dr. John Ward, who told me that epidemiologists are still trying to get a handle on this surge. But he called it a new epidemic.


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