Intravenous Drug Use And The Risk Of Hepatitis A

Intravenous drug use poses significant health risks, including the increased chance of contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis A. If you or a loved one is experiencing a substance use disorder and is concerned about bloodborne illness, addiction treatment can help.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection that primarily affects the liver and is typically transmitted through the consumption of contaminated food or water.

However, for individuals who engage in intravenous drug use, there are specific factors that elevate the risk of contracting hepatitis A.

What Is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a viral infection that primarily affects the liver. It can cause a range of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

The hepatitis A virus is transmitted primarily through the consumption of contaminated food or water, or through direct contact with an infected person. This includes the sharing of needles.

Unlike the hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus, which can become chronic conditions, hepatitis A typically does not result in a chronic infection. However, complications can arise.

The severity of symptoms from hepatitis A can vary, and some people may require hospitalization, especially if they have underlying health conditions.

Early detection and appropriate medical care are necessary for managing hepatitis A and preventing complications.

How Is Intravenous Drug Use Related To Hepatitis A?

Intravenous drug use is related to hepatitis A primarily through the sharing of contaminated injection equipment, such as needles and syringes.

When injection equipment is shared, there is a high risk of transmitting infectious agents such as viral hepatitis from one person to another.

Intravenous drug use may also involve the use of unclean surfaces or environments for preparing and injecting substances.

If these surfaces are contaminated with the hepatitis A virus, people who come into contact with them are at risk of infection. This occurs most commonly through breaks in the skin during injection.

How Do I Know If I Have Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A can range from a mild illness to a more severe condition, depending on factors like your age and whether you have underlying health conditions.

Some common signs of hepatitis A include:

  • flu-like symptoms, such as fever and muscle aches
  • nausea and vomiting
  • abdominal pain, especially around the liver
  • dark urine due to liver dysfunction
  • jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • loss of appetite
  • pale colored stools
  • itchy skin

Not everyone with hepatitis A will experience all of these symptoms, and some people may have an asymptomatic or very mild course of the infection.

If you suspect you may have hepatitis A or are experiencing symptoms associated with the infection, it’s important to seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis.

Receiving Treatment For Hepatitis A

Treatment for hepatitis A typically focuses on managing symptoms and supporting the body’s natural recovery process.

If you suspect you have hepatitis A or are experiencing symptoms consistent with the infection, it’s best to seek medical attention.

A healthcare professional will conduct an evaluation, including a physical examination and blood tests, to confirm the diagnosis.

Rest is crucial during the acute phase of hepatitis A. Adequate hydration is also important, especially if vomiting or diarrhea is present, as it can help to alleviate symptoms.

Supportive measures may include over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms such as pain or fever. Always consult with a healthcare provider before medicating for hepatitis A.

How To Avoid Bloodborne Disease

Bloodborne diseases such as HIV, HBV, and chronic hepatitis are primarily transmitted through contact with infected blood or other potentially infectious materials.

Avoiding bloodborne diseases involves adopting preventive measures to minimize the risk of exposure to bodily fluids that may carry infectious agents.

Needle Exchange Programs

Needle exchange programs, also known as syringe services programs (SSPs), are public health initiatives designed to reduce the transmission of bloodborne infections among people who inject drugs.

The primary function of needle exchange programs is to distribute sterile needles and syringes to people who use drugs illegally.

This intervention helps to prevent the sharing of needles, which is a major risk factor for the transmission of bloodborne infections.

Needle exchange programs operate on a harm reduction philosophy, emphasizing pragmatic strategies to minimize the negative consequences associated with drug abuse.

Additionally, many needle exchange programs offer referrals to health services, including substance abuse treatment, HIV infection testing and counseling, and other healthcare options.

Safe Injection Sites

Safe injection sites offer an environment where people can inject illegal drugs under the supervision of trained staff.

This supervision helps improve safety and provides an opportunity for immediate response in case of overdose or other medical emergencies.

Safe injection sites provide sterile injection equipment, including needles and syringes, to prevent the sharing of contaminated equipment and reduce the risk of bloodborne infections.

These sites are part of harm reduction strategies aimed at minimizing the negative health and social consequences associated with drug use.


Bloodborne illnesses such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acute hepatitis, and HCV infection can be transmitted through the sharing of needles and other drug paraphernalia.

The most direct way to prevent bloodborne illnesses associated with drug use is to abstain from drugs entirely.

Choosing not to engage in drug use eliminates the risk of sharing needles and syringes, a major mode of transmission for bloodborne infections.

If you’re interested in sobriety as a method of prevention, substance abuse treatment programs can provide the necessary support and resources.

Addiction Treatment At Spring Hill

Choosing to seek addiction treatment for substance use disorder is the first step towards recovery.

If you or someone you know is considering addiction treatment, Spring Hill can help you through the process.

Detoxification At Our Sister Facility

Detoxification, often referred to as detox, is the process of eliminating toxic substances from the body.

The primary goal of detox is to safely rid the body of addictive substances, stabilizing the individual as they transition to further treatment.

Our sister facility, Bedrock Recovery Center, offers a detox center where people are monitored by healthcare professionals. This is especially important for substances with severe withdrawal symptoms.

Our treatment plans are tailored to the individual’s substance use history, overall health, and specific needs. The approach can change based on the substance of abuse.

Detoxification is the initial step in the recovery process. Once detox is completed, people are encouraged to move on to further treatment, such as residential or outpatient rehabilitation programs.


Therapy is a critical component during treatment for substance use disorder. The most effective treatment plans often involve a combination of therapies tailored to the individual’s needs.

At Spring Hill, we use evidence-based therapeutic approaches to help people address the underlying issues causing their substance abuse, developing coping strategies for long-term recovery.

Our goal is to help individuals recognize and modify the thoughts and behaviors related to substance use, learn new life skills, and improve mental health.

We also work to resolve ambivalence about substance use, reduce high-risk behaviors, and strengthen each of our clients’ commitment to change.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based approach to treating substance use disorders.

MAT involves the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to address the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

MAT can be particularly beneficial during the detox phase of treatment for opioids, alcohol, and certain other addictive substances.

The goals of MAT include reducing cravings, preventing withdrawal symptoms, and blocking the euphoric effects of drugs in order to help people achieve and maintain recovery.

MAT has been shown to reduce the risk of relapse, improving treatment retention and increasing overall success rates in people who want to get sober.

Learn How To Start Your Recovery At Spring Hill

If you or a loved one is experiencing substance use disorder, treatment can help. Contact Spring Hill today to learn more.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  5. Mayo Clinic
  6. Mayo Clinic
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  8. National Library of Medicine: PubMed
  9. National Library of Medicine: PubMed
  10. World Health Organization (WHO)

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

Published on: January 17, 2024

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

Prefer Texting?
We've got you covered.

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.
Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
For 24/7 Treatment Help:
100% Free & Confidential. Call (978) 321-2696
(978) 321-2696