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

And many other illnesses, too.

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

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. 

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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