Do I Have to be Sober to Treat My Hep C?
Last updated: January 2022
Some people who have injected drugs are afraid of getting tested for hep C. Many have asked me, “Do I have to be sober to treat hep C?”
The rules around that have changed over the last few years. Many states offer different programs for people to get into a recovery program.
That can include a needle exchange drug program or an alcohol program—no matter where you are in that process.
Let’s talk about how you can begin to lead a hep C-free life.
Not ready to get sober
Sometimes, even when you know that this will not always be your life, you are just not ready to quit yet. There is a legitimate time to be standing on the fence waiting to decide when the time is right.
Maybe your finances aren’t all in order. Perhaps your relationships or home situation make it difficult to be sober and treat hep C. You may not be ready to go into full recovery.
Take it one step at a time. Just don’t forget that hep C. is wounding your liver, and you can give it a break by taking action and getting tested and treated.
Needle exchange program benefits
There are good medical clinics in most major cities today that help those in recovery from needle injection use. Some offer a clean needle exchange program to help people from getting and spreading hep C.
It just makes sense that it also reduces the risk of sharing a used syringe and passing hep C to a friend. If you are in a location where you can contact a recovery program, you may begin taking methadone or other replacement drugs.
In that case, you may not have to be sober to treat hep C. Talk to your contact at the needle exchange program and ask for more information about getting tested and treated.
Sober and ready to treat hep C
In some cases, you have moved away from any drug or alcohol use. You may be part of a support group that is helping each other.
Suppose you are through the withdrawal stage and are sober; kudos to you! Now is the time to find a local clinic to get tested for hep C.
You can reach out through a primary care doctor. You might also talk to your drug and alcohol counselor about where to go.
Dealing with the feelings of stigma
People working a program of any kind to become sober may not trust others easily. The idea of telling a medical provider that they want to get tested or treated for hep C can freak them out.
My advice is to ask around and find out where there is a complete team of medical providers who help in various ways. They are less likely to judge if they are suggesting a counselor or helping you to pay for treatment.
Do I have to be sober to treat for hep C?
The short answer is not always. Talk to a family member or medical provider, and ask a friend or call a helpline.
Reach out right here on this website and community. You are not alone in your desire to protect your liver and life from the hep C virus.
Join the conversation