The Opioid, Hepatitis C domino effect

By Alexander Pan

Due to the prevalence of opioids and commonplace opioid prescriptions, many lose control and become addicted. Subsequently, opioid addicts switch to heroin due to its potency and cheaper price. Researchers from the Keck School of Medicine studied the correlation between increased opioid use and the increased incidence of hepatitis C. Needles are used to inject heroin into the blood, which leads to the spread of various blood-related diseases. Despite the health risks of injecting needles into the blood, many opioid addicts move from prescribed opioids to heroin. “Heroin is much less expensive and more efficient in doing the job”, a subject said in justification of injecting needles. From a study of 776 subjects in Los Angeles, drug addicts injected various drugs into themselves such as heroin, methamphetamine, and crack cocaine. From that subject group, there was an incidence of 35% of subjects that developed hepatitis C over 5 years. To prevent the rampant opioid epidemic from spreading, novel solutions for improving treatment addiction and drug education programs should be utilized. Further research needs to be conducted on subjects to improve current forms of treatment. From a policy perspective, more governmental regulation is needed to limit the quantity of opioids prescribed to patients. As a result, fewer people would abuse opioids and use needles to spread hepatitis C, limiting the domino effect of two health epidemics at once.


Ricky N. Bluthenthal, Daniel Chu, Lynn D. Wenger, Philippe Bourgois, Thomas Valente, Alex H. Kral. Differences in time to injection onset by drug in California: Implications for the emerging heroin epidemic. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2018; 185: 253 DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.01.005

University of Southern California. (2018, February 22). Opioid abuse leads to heroin use and a hepatitis C epidemic, researcher says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2018 from