Teenagers are known to explore new things, and in some cases this may involve making decisions about drugs and alcohol. However, it’s important that you understand that using drugs and alcohol is associated with a range of health risks for everyone, but this is especially the case for people with haemophilia.
A key issue is that consuming alcohol is illegal for people under 18 years of age – and taking recreational drugs is illegal for everyone. Another key issue to be aware of is that drugs and alcohol can impair your judgment and coordination, and slow your reaction time. This means that you are more likely to take risks and injure yourself. Plus, if you do get injured and have a bleed, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol may impair your ability to give yourself an infusion. This is because alcohol causes dehydration, which makes it more difficult to find a vein. Combine this with reduced coordination and balance and things could get tricky!
Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol may also make it difficult for you to seek medical attention, if required, and then explain your condition to the medical personnel who are assisting you. This is a serious issue, because if the people treating you don’t know you have a bleeding disorder, they won’t know how to take care of you properly.
Another important factor to consider is that drinking even a small amount of alcohol can act as a ‘blood thinner’, which makes blood clotting more difficult than usual. There may also be interactions between recreational drugs and prescription medications, including bleeding disorder medications, that are not yet known and could potentially be harmful and even life threatening.
Finally, alcohol abuse can damage your liver, which is particularly a concern for those with hepatitis C or who have HIV and are taking antiretroviral drugs.
Are you considering using drugs or alcohol?
If so, then don’t be afraid to discuss this with your Haemophilia Treatment Centre. They won’t judge you and they have likely discussed these issues with many of their other patients in the past. The important thing is that you have all the information at hand so that you can make informed decisions about how you want to live your life.