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Other Drug Use and Their Effect on the Liver

All drugs exert strain on the liver and can suppress the immune system. Combined with alcohol over a long period of time the effects can be greatly increased, proving fatal to some.

Aspirin, Disprin, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen all have some impact on the liver. Light use may be safe. Aspirin and Disprin should be avoided if their are any problems with blood clotting disorders. Paracetamol can be highly liver toxic and nor more than 4 tablets should be taken a day. Ibuprofen is the safest for the liver, but long term use can cause problems.

Cigarettes are carcinogenic and may be a co-factor in the development of liver cancer. Smoking is also known to destroy some vitamins such as B1, B6 and C. If you have poor circulation, smoking may make it worse. Smoking may also increase depression by reducing blood circulation to the brain.

Sleeping pills, benzodiazepines and barbituates place stress on the liver, are mildly toxic and may accentuate liver damage in people with hepatitis C. These are best avoided altogether.

Anti-depressants and other prescribed medications also place stress on the liver and are mildly toxic, but are probably safe in low doses. If your are on these and experience an increase in other symptoms, inform your doctor immediately.

Marijuana is not thought to directly affect the liver, but does suppress the immune system. Marijuana is also thought to be cancer causing and may be more damaging than cigarettes. Marijuana may also increase fatigue and any problems with mental function.

Steroids can cause liver damage in even healthy people. Steroids also suppress the immune system. As steroids are heavily processed by the liver, it is probably best to avoid them.

Opiates including Heroin, Morphine and Methadone, reduce the effectiveness of the immune system and may accelerate the rate of liver damage.

Methadone and hepatitis C:
If you're on a methadone program you may be able to access initial hepatitis C antibody testing and ongoing liver function test monitoring through your prescribing clinic. If the clinic does not offer such services, ask for a referral to a GP who does. The effects of methadone can alleviate possible painful symptoms of hepatitis C. Although this may be helpful, it can camouflage early signs of liver damage (if it develops). Flu-like hepatitis C symptoms may give the impression that you are on prescription pills. If this causes problems with staff at the clinic, it may be useful to remind them of the complicating effect of hepatitis C symptoms. If you experience flu-like symptoms of hepatitis C, these symptoms should not be misinterpreted as withdrawal symptoms from opiates. People should be careful with methadone dosages and aware of their real tolerance for drugs. This is especially important when liver damage is severe.

Stimulants, including Amphetamines, Ecstasy and Cocaine, directly affect the liver and suppress the immune system and are also likely to increase the effect of hepatitis C on mental health.

Hallucinogens, Magic Mushrooms and LSD all affect the digestive system and may place a heavy strain on the liver.

Amyl Nitrate is severely toxic to the immune system. It also places stress on the heart, circulatory system and the liver.

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