In recent years treatments for the life threatening virus hepatitis C have come a long way, being significantly more effective than the previous medications used. Yet despite advances in hep C treatment, people are dying from the virus at an all time high, CNN reports. In 2014, there were 19,659 deaths from complications related to hepatitis C, compared to 11,051 in 2003. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more people lost their lives to hep C in 2014, more than deaths related to HIV and another 59 infectious diseases combined.
As you may have already surmised, on top of a rise in deaths related to the illness, there has also been a spike in new hepatitis C cases. Between 2010 and 2014, new cases of the virus more than doubled, according to the article. The uptick is directly linked to an increase in intravenous drug use, typically involving prescription opioids and/or heroin. People engaging in IV drug use are already rather nondiscriminatory, but to make things worse people with the infectious disease often times do not show symptoms until the later stages of progression. Naturally, sharing needles always carries a risk, although addicts are usually less inclined to share if the person they are sharing with appears to be ill.
“Due to limited screening and underreporting, we estimate the number of new infections is closer to 30,000 per year,” said Dr. John Ward, director of CDC’s division of viral hepatitis. “So both deaths and new infections are on the rise.”
In response to the hepatitis C outbreaks occurring in various parts of the country, lawmakers who were historically opposed to needle exchange programs have begun to sing a different tune. There has been a long held misconception that needle exchange programs promote IV drug use, but the reality is actually something quite different.
Such programs help prevent the spread of infectious diseases which can save community health care systems millions of dollars each year. What’s more, addicts rarely come in contact with doctors, nurses and especially addiction counselors. Needle exchange programs provide a perfect opportunity to discuss addiction recovery with those who are coming in to swap out their dirty needles for clean ones. Even if individuals are not ready for recovery yet, a seed can be planted and they will know where to go when they are ready for help.
The synthetic drug problem in Florida continues to gain steam, with the surge of Flakka (alpha-PVP) use being responsible for 18 deaths in South Florida, The New York Times reports. While the drug is similar to its cousin MDPV (aka bath salts), Flakka seems to give its users heightened strength and dangerous paranoid hallucinations.
“I have never seen such a rash of cases, all associated with the same substance,” said James N. Hall, an epidemiologist at Nova Southeastern University. “It’s probably the worst I have seen since the peak of crack cocaine. Rather than a drug, it’s really a poison.”
Alpha-PVP has become increasingly prevalent throughout the southern United States in the last few months, and has been tied to a number of incidents – as well as a rise in fatalities. South Florida appears to have been hit the hardest by this new cheap and dangerous drug. A single dose goes for $5, and gives users an amphetamine-like experience and hallucinations, according to the article.
Despite bans on similar synthetic drug formulations that resulted in users experiencing a number violent outcomes, synthetic drug manufacturers continue to alter the chemical compositions in order to evade authorities. Such drugs are produced inexpensively in China with hardly any oversight or testing before they are distributed throughout the world. U.S. law enforcement are working with Chinese officials to outlaw such drugs in China, according to the report.
“Our supposition is that the original concept was to design it so it would be technically not illegal,” Mr. Hall said. “It appears they are now looking to also design the molecule to be even more potent and more addictive. Addiction is good for sales.”
Not only are these types of drugs both illegal and highly addictive, they can cause bodily harm. Users who use too much can experience increased body temperature up to 105 degrees, some users have even experienced kidney failure.
Please watch a short video about Flakka:
Synthetic drugs often appeal to young adults and teenagers because they can be found with ease over the Internet. If you are struggling with synthetic drug addiction, please do not hesitate to reach out to Synergy Group Services for help.