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Hepatitis C Main Forums => Post Hepatitis C Treatment => Topic started by: DeathtoHep on July 24, 2017, 03:51:59 am

Title: Drinking after Hep C cure
Post by: DeathtoHep on July 24, 2017, 03:51:59 am
Hi all,

So I wanted to stop in to see what others might have to say on the subject of drinking after achieving Hep C cure.

First off I'll give you an update on my life since going through Viekira Pak and achieving SVR. It has been almost 2 years exactly and I have had tests every six months or so -  all negative for Hep C. I have been going to the gym regularly and cutting out junk food the best I can. When I started treatment I was at Fibrosis Stage 1. Not sure what it's at now but I feel normal and healthy. A lot of the minor symptoms like fatigue have gone away but Im still left with a lot of emotional baggage and depression which I'm dealing with. I want to see a psychologist but not sure where to start. I just don't trust anyone after dealing with so many incompetent people in the medical field. Other than that, life is OK and Im so grateful to have gone through this process with you all here.

The single biggest thing I've struggled with is not drinking. I just feel dull and uptight. Ive considered marijuana but it makes me paranoid. I can't have friends who drink or date girls who drink. My social life stinks. The only reason I got sober was because I had Hep C. My family does have a history of alcohol abuse but I am not a believer of a zero tolerance policy when it comes to being sober. I believe there are other methods than AA to manage the abuse of alcohol. Ive seen alcoholics able to manage drinking and Ive also seen them drink themselves into the grave.

Now I know what the right thing to do is and Ive been doing that since I was 19 - just dont drink no matter what. And I know that a lot of people on this site will tell me to count my blessings and that drinking is not worth the chance of causing damage. But when I weigh the chance of doing severe liver damage against the lonliness of not going out and having fun with friends and girls, it doesnt seem worth it to just sit back and play it safe - nor does this fit into my personality. Ive always been a risk taker and I feel like Ive lost my edge and part of my identity while being sober. I want to get out and let loose but also be smart about it and monitor my liver carefully.

Now this is something that I will ofcourse be talking with my doctor about. I just havent gotten around to making an appointment and I just have a feeling he will tell me to not drink at all. This is more about my struggles with assimilating with people my age and living a little before I settle down. I missed out on so much in my 20's because of this disease. I just want to be seen as "normal". When I go out and hit it off with a girl and she finds out I don't drink I can see a little bit of the excitement fade from her eyes. People treat me differently. This happens a lot. Ive tried dating AA women and for some reason it is just never a good fit. For one, I dont even like hanging out with sober people and members of AA are in general problematic. I realize there are other ways to enjoy life and Ive tried a lot of them but nothing takes the edge off like a few drinks. I just wish there was a way to measure what is a healthy amount - if any.

Hopefully as time goes by we can say whether drinking is acceptable after SVR. I know that drinking is bad for you in general and there are several reasons not to do it. But for me, I think Ive spent so much time sober that Im just inside my head too much and something has to give.

If this makes sense to anyone feel free to post your comments questions below. Thanks and prayers go out to everyone.


Title: Re: Drinking after Hep C cure
Post by: gnatcatcher on July 24, 2017, 06:41:04 am
Mark, you have written a very thoughtful post that deserves the most thoughtful reply I can give. Loneliness is tough. You grew up where drinking alcohol was the norm when socializing. Yet, you have seen people abuse alcohol to their own detriment, so you recognize the dangers. However, doing something dangerous can be thrilling, and the absence of danger can feel like a depressing void to you. What to do?

Your liver was in good shape while under hep C's assault, and the assault is gone. The liver regenerates well, so your liver might well be able to handle the occasional drink. The question is whether the chemicals in your brain can handle the occasional drink. Some people can drink socially without ever craving a drink when they are by themselves. Their risk of addiction is low. Others have to steer clear of alcohol or else they become alcoholics. I can't tell from your post whether being sober makes you depressed because you feel like an outcast, or whether being sober makes you depressed because your brain chemicals start craving alcohol. If the latter is the case, your risk of drinking yourself into the grave is, alas, high.

My mother drank as a young woman in order to feel socially accepted. Then she saw what a friend looked like when drunk to the point of vomiting, and she realized she didn't want that for herself. (She had also noticed that she liked the taste of alcohol too much, and she was also addicted to smoking, so she realized she had "an addictive personality." When she was finally able to quit smoking, she discovered food, and got addicted to that!)

My father could drink socially without developing a craving. He was able to quit smoking as soon as he set his mind to it. Once he saw a photo of himself with some middle-age spread; he immediately dieted successfully and never got overweight again.

Alas, my brain chemicals take after my mother's. I got addicted to graham crackers in elementary school, where we ate one every midmorning. I'd be foolish to assume I can handle alcohol. So, when I was a young person seeking social acceptance and looking for a life partner, I had to get creative. I learned to be enough fun to be around when everyone else was drinking alcohol and/or smoking pot that the people I was with would introduce me to their friends by saying, "Gnatty gets high on water." Since the introducer accepted this oddity of mine, so did the people I just got introduced to. Sure, some people teased me about it, and others tried to get me to convert to their way of being social, but I learned to shrug that off. As long as I came across as accepting them as they were, most people accepted me as I was and learned to look beyond what was in my glass.

In fact, if you get creative about what nonalcoholic beverage goes into your glass, a lot of people don't even notice that what's in your glass isn't alcoholic! It's not hard to seem "up," and it's even easier if you start getting really interested in whatever is fascinating about the person you're talking with. People love it when someone finds them fascinating, and they tend to like a person who does find them fascinating! I really do get high on water, and this is how I do it.

Mark, how about an experiment? Figure out some nonalcoholic beverages you can ask for that can go into the same type of beer stein or wine glass that others are using. See if you can appear to be having as great a time as the mildly inebriated (and a better time than the soused). See whether after a few months of doing that, you really are having a great time. And please report back.

Thanks, and best wishes.

Title: Re: Drinking after Hep C cure
Post by: dragonslayer on July 24, 2017, 10:29:36 am
Mark, I empathize with your situation.   When I was cured of HCV, I asked my doctor if I could drink and he said 'sure' because I never biopsied worse than stage/grade 0-1.  However, behavioral issues and proclivities must be considered.

I see a lot of red flags in your post.  Not being able to enjoy oneself without alcohol, or not enjoying the company of sober people are among the reddest.  If your liver is in good shape, and you could keep your drinking to a few drinks a week, and not all at once, you'd probably be ok.. But the fact that you require alcohol in order to enjoy yourself, to me, spells nothing but trouble.

Find another way, Mark..   I did..  Others have.  Its not impossible.   Ill have an occasional drink, but most days, I dont, and thats the key;  Being able to manage it.
Title: Re: Drinking after Hep C cure
Post by: DeathtoHep on October 25, 2017, 11:39:26 pm

As an experiment I drank a couple beers last weekend and got pretty damn tipsy. This was after my fibrosis score went from 7 to 5 two years after SVR.

My doctor seems to be on the fence on whether this is ok. First he says 2 drinks a day wont hurt me. Then to protect his ass he says "no amount of alcohol is healthy". This to me is BS. Ofcourse no amount is "healthy"....or is it? Is it worse than sugar? Someone who drinks 3 cans of coke per day might as well be drinking a couple beers.

Anyway, I did get a slight cold a couple days later which I found interesting since I never get sick. No doubt this is a response from a compromised immune system after I drank.

I havent really had the compulsion to drink although I did feel amazing after two beers.

I will continue to drink moderately and take notes on how I feel and probably get another scan at around 6 months from now.

This isnt about needing to drink. I just want freedom from this disease and to feel normal again. Anyone else doing the same let me know your thoughts and how you're doing.
Title: Re: Drinking after Hep C cure
Post by: flashster on October 26, 2017, 03:25:59 pm
I’m 22 . I tested positive for hep c antibodies but never had tested positive for the virus . Im in college and get wasted about every weekend and my status is the same . My doctor told me to enjoy life and live it to it’s fullest! I never had any liver damage either . I think you should just live your life and not worry about it so much . After all you only get one life buddy !
Title: Re: Drinking after Hep C cure
Post by: DeathtoHep on October 26, 2017, 04:06:42 pm
How does that work if you test positive for antibodies but not the virus? Doesnt it show up the same in a blood test?

I think our situations are a little different since you don't actually have damage or hep c replication or have had it long enough to know if what you're doing is actually damaging.

Did you have a fibroscan done?
Title: Re: Drinking after Hep C cure
Post by: dragonslayer on October 26, 2017, 04:25:36 pm

About a quarter of people who contract HCV are able to clear it on their own thanks to their immune system.. They will not test positive for HCV RNA, but they will always test positive for it's antibodies. Its those superhuman antibodies which he can thank for never becoming chronic with the disease after having been exposed..
Title: Re: Drinking after Hep C cure
Post by: jp on October 26, 2017, 04:46:02 pm
How does that work if you test positive for antibodies but not the virus? Doesn't it show up the same in a blood test?

I think our situations are a little different since you don't actually have damage or hep c replication or have had it long enough to know if what you're doing is actually damaging.

Did you have a fibroscan done?

I tested in1991 I was tested for the hep b in order to receive the hep b vaccine for my employment (healthcare setting) I got cut repairing a  morgue table . I was told I had antibodies present for non a non b so don't worry as no virus present . 
In 1998 I started getting very exhausted  every week or so .As time passed (10 years) fatigue came every day. Docs said from aging (I am 64) had dozens of test . I insisted on a hep c test because of all the Harvoni ads. I test positive in May @ 15,500,000 pp-ml & fibroscan of 15.2 .   
Taking  Harvoni  for 28 days hcv is 24 pp-ml .  I hope my liver heals and the fatigue eases up so I can travel in retirement.  42 days to go and months or years to recover.
Careful with your life it is short: live long with self-respect  .  JP
Title: Re: Drinking after Hep C cure
Post by: gnatcatcher on October 26, 2017, 05:08:45 pm
JP, thanks for your eloquent post, and welcome to the forums. As you can see below, my pre-treatment fibroscan was worse than yours, but since being cured, my fibrosis level has gotten quite a bit better.

-looks like you're well on your way to a cure and a healthier liver that you'll treat with TLC. Hard to predict how much energy you'll get back (people here have had different results), but you should still be able to enjoy traveling -- there remain countries smart enough to enjoy a daily siesta  ;)

Title: Re: Drinking after Hep C cure
Post by: jp on October 27, 2017, 10:08:23 am
Thank You for the encouragement .

I bought a tread mill to increase my strength 2 years ago and was able to walk 1/4 mile at 3mph. I started Harvoni Sept.14 and since that time I walk a 25 minute mile  once a week  . 1/2 mile 3 days & 1/4 mile the other days.
Bending and exertion still drain me fast but recovery is a hour or so as opposed to days before starting Harvoni.   I am grateful .
Title: Re: Drinking after Hep C cure
Post by: gnatcatcher on October 27, 2017, 10:28:56 am
JP, glad you are exercising during treatment. I believed doing likewise helped me.
Title: Re: Drinking after Hep C cure
Post by: Lynn K on October 27, 2017, 10:39:23 pm

I had hep c for 37 years and was diagnosed with cirrhosis almost 10 years ago by liver biopsy. My pre treatment Fibroscan was 27 and my one year post was 33 but probably not really a difference just testing variation.

Anyway I am doing fine I just bruise easy and have some lower leg edema both symptoms of cirrhosis. Just exercise as you can and as your doctor says is ok and you will get your stamina back.

Keep up the good work and good luck!