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Infectious Diseases, Needles and Heroin Abuse in Fresno

Getting medical help for heroin abuse in Fresno
Getting medical help for heroin abuse in Fresno

The Business Journal, an online news magazine, has published a story by Hannah Esqueda that the Fresno County District Attorney and the Fresno Chamber of Commerce share a concern about heroin abuse in Fresno and throughout the Central Valley. Despite the existence of multiple methadone and Suboxone treatment programs and also the Fresno Needle Exchange, people are continuing with heroin abuse in Fresno and getting sick with diseases transmitted by dirty needles.

There is no doubt that heroin abuse in Fresno is widespread, said D.A. Lisa Smittcamp; heroin is available at virtually every high school. Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster was recently arrested for drug trafficking. So from cops to kiddies, heroin abuse in Fresno affects everyone, at every socioeconomic level, of all demographics, including age, religion, and ethnicity.

People who abuse heroin in Fresno pay little attention to hygiene. The need to get high is so overwhelming that all attention to safety goes out the window. It’s bad enough to think that friends or partners who are both addicted will share a needle. It’s even worse to realize that a bunch of people shooting up together will all use the same needle. It’s horrible to imagine that someone desperate to get high will pick up a used needle off the ground and use it to put drugs into their arm. But it’s happens.

The diseases most commonly spread by needle among heroin abusers in Fresno include HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. Here’s a breakdown of the reality and the costs:

HIV/AIDS. The first cases of HIV/AIDS came to light in the United States in the early 1980s, but effective long-term treatment was not available until 1996. You may contract HIV/AIDS but not feel any symptoms for quite a white. You can only find out if you have it for certain with a blood test. It still cannot be cured, but its damages to the body can be controlled. If you are still unable to stop your heroin abuse in Fresno, you can go to any methadone program and ask to be tested. About 1,200,000 people live with HIV/AIDS. About 960,000 of them are intravenous drug users.

Costs for treatment for HIV run from ten bucks a pill to 80 bucks. You’re looking at a $1,000-2,500 for a month of treatment. If you have health insurance, it may cover costs for treating your heroin abuse in Fresno and also for your HIV medication. Otherwise, you may be eligible for a prescription treatment discount. Again, the best place to ask is at your local methadone treatment program.


There are five types of hepatitis, which refers to an inflammation of the liver. Some types of hepatitis you can catch from risky sexual behavior. If you are guilty of heroin abuse in Fresno, you’ve probably had a few ill-chosen sexual encounters. You should be tested for hepatitis and also for the regular list of sexually transmitted diseases.

You can also catch hepatitis from dirty needles. Health agencies tell us that the number of hepatitis infections are declining, but if you talk to someone who works at a methadone treatment program, they’ll tell you that plenty of patients at the clinic turn out to be carrying this infection. Again, the symptoms are not obvious, but gone untreated hepatitis can result in liver cancer or cirrhosis, which is a fatal hardening of the liver. The National Institute on Drug Abuse warns that so-called super-spreaders get the disease—either HIV or hepatitis—and because sharing dirty needles during heroin abuse in Fresno is so common one person can spread illnesses to 20 other people. Treatment for hepatitis was partially effective with the old drugs. Now there are one or two new drugs out that work quite well, but an entire course of treatment can run as high as $100,000. There are grants that make the medication available at lower costs, but doctors are typically unwilling to approve active heroin abusers in Fresno because many IV drug users fail to complete the entire course of therapy, which is necessary for best results.


Intravenous heroin abuse in Fresno and also shot-gunning, blowing smoke from one person’s mouth into another’s, account for increased cases of tuberculosis among drug users. While the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) is not high, it’s twice as high in drug users as in non-drug users. Still, it’s like the other two diseases in that you may have it and not realize it for quite some time. Those who develop multi-drug resistant TB and fail to get treatment can die. If you are abusing heroin in Fresno, you should know that California ranks among the top seven states with recorded cases of tuberculosis. Unlike the other contagious diseases, treatment is inexpensive.

Heroin Abuse in Fresno: More Than the Needles

The risk of disease transmission is not just limited to needles. Those afflicted with heroin abuse in Fresno can catch the viruses from whatever they cook their drug in—bottle caps, spoons, whatever. They can catch viruses from cigarette filters or other materials used to filter the drug. They can catch the viruses from using and then re-using the water used to cook down their drugs. All those things spell contamination and death.

But here’s the thing about treatment for these contagious diseases for those who abuse heroin in Fresno: The cost of methadone treatment per person averages out to be $4,700. Compared with the costs of treating HIV or hepatitis, methadone treatment costs far less.

You can take advantage of Fresno’s needle exchange program if you worry about this risk and turn in your dirty needles for clean ones. The group—run by volunteers, not police—operates just two hours per week, but it exchanges 700,000 needles per year in the Central Valley area.

You can get screened for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis not only at your local methadone or Suboxone program in Fresno but also at the Fresno County Department of Public Health. Call the main number and ask when the next health clinic will be.

Most stories tell about the people who die using heroin or pain pills, and on average 11 Californians die each day from drug abuse. But we are talking about the people who live. Why not simply make an appointment to go in to your local methadone or Suboxone program? You can talk to them about everything—your drug use, your potential for an infectious disease, and what life would be like if you stopped using. You can find out about methadone versus Suboxone. Getting treatment for heroin abuse in Fresno will make your life a lot healthier and happier. Make the call.

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