People Addicted to Opioids Are Nine Times More Likely to Have Hepatitis C

And many other illnesses, too.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Americans diagnosed with opioid addiction are far more likely to suffer from a host of other health conditions, from hepatitis C to alcoholism to back pain. That’s according to a new report from Amino, a health tech company that matches patients with doctors. The company examined insurance claims of more than 300 million patients with private heath insurance between 2014 and 2016, and compared the diagnoses of those with opioid use disorder to the general population.

As the chart above shows, addiction to opioids—including painkillers, heroin, or fentanyl—is seldom the only mental or behavioral health issue at hand: Those with opioid use disorder are 8.4 times more likely to suffer from alcoholism, 6.9 times more likely to experience suicidal ideation, and 4.2 times more likely to have post traumatic stress disorder, compared to the general population. 

The study didn’t examine whether opioid addiction was caused by, or caused, the other diagnoses. But some of the conditions, like hepatitis C, are often a result of the needle sharing that can come with opioid use. As more and more Americans inject opioids—particularly heroin—hepatitis C rates have soared: The number of new infections tripled between 2010 and 2015, according to a recent report form the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Other diagnoses, like chronic pain and “failed back syndrome,”  or pain after back surgery, could be the reason the patients got started taking opioids to begin with. For years, opioid painkillers were aggressively (and sometimes illegally) marketed and liberally prescribed to those with chronic pain, but there’s scant evidence that the painkillers work when prescribed for long periods of time. According to the CDC opioid prescribing guidelines released last spring, opioids should be prescribed for chronic pain only after other solutions, like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or physical therapy, have been considered. 

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate