Intravenous drugs, or IV drugs, are chemicals that are used by injection to a person’s bloodstream via a hypodermic needle. Oftentimes, prescription drugs are injected when being abused by an addict. Using IV drugs is dangerous and a serious problem for many suffering from addiction.
Many people become addicted to drugs starting with easier forms, often either smoking or snorting the substance. However, as an addiction problem grows an addict begins searching for ways to make drugs both more potent and faster-acting. By injecting drugs straight into the bloodstream, addicts often experience a much stronger effect.
Many drugs are injected when abused. Heroin, along with many other opioids such as morphine, oxycontin, fentanyl, and Demerol, is often injected via a needle into the bloodstream. Other commonly abused drugs such as flakka, steroids, ketamine, bath salts, PCP, and benzodiazepines can also be injected into the bloodstream.
While those seeking to abuse IV drugs are often seeking a stronger high, the potency of injecting drugs straight into the bloodstream is also incredibly dangerous. IV drugs are specifically much more likely to cause a variety of complications within someone’s body compared to other forms of abuse.
Partially due to how quickly the effects of the drugs can take place while shooting up, addicts self-administering IV drugs rarely can accurately control how much they are injecting. This is why addicts to use IV drugs are far more likely to overdose than any other form of consumption.
The use of IV drugs also introduces an entirely new danger into the process for addicts: hypodermic needles. While needles are safe when clean and used by medical professionals, the use of them on the streets leads to a variety of serious health risks.
The use of dirty needles or the injection of drugs containing different bacteria and pathogens can lead to many different skin and blood issues among users. The sharing of needles also greatly increases the spread of bloodborne diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. One study showed that 1 in 10 people diagnosed with HIV in the United States were users of IV drugs.
The use of IV drugs is incredibly dangerous and can lead to life-threatening complications. The intensity associated with using IV drugs not only increases the effects of the drugs but also the health risks for them as well.
Overdoses are far more likely to occur when using IV drugs. The inability to accurately gauge the amounts of the drug being injected combined with the fact that many IV drug users often gain a level of tolerance with drugs and need to constantly use more leads to overdoses that can have long-term health complications or lead to death.
People who inject stimulants, such as cocaine, greatly increase their risk of cardiac failure and brain damage. This can include increased blood pressure, heart attacks, seizures, or even strokes. Sudden kidney failure can also occur when injecting cocaine. Many of these side effects can be life-threatening, especially when combined with the other effects brought on by drug use.
While bloodborne diseases such as HIV are not considered to be as deadly as they once were, they can still be especially dangerous when not treated properly. Many addicts who contract HIV from the use of dirty needles spread it to many others either through the continuation of using shared needles or sexual intercourse before they even know they are infected.
HIV can lead to a variety of health issues, many considered to be life-threatening, when not properly treated. Some addicts avoid seeking medical help to avoid confronting their drug use and therefore do not get the proper help needed to deal with many of the medical conditions brought on by the use of IV drugs.
The dangers of shooting up with IV drugs are not always just internal. Due to the nature of injecting chemicals in often unclean environments, many skin issues arise as a side effect. Needle marks are often prominent on the arms of those who participate in IV drug use. Many addicts will constantly wear long sleeves in an attempt to hide their drug usage from others.
These track marks often take a long time to fade away. More than half of IV drug users still show signs of scarring from the needle marks five years into sobriety. Some marks, often called pop scars, caused by IV drug usage are permanent and will never fade.
Skin infections can also occur, commonly due to the contamination of drugs sold on the street. 11% of IV drug users reported having at least one skin infection of abscess in the last six months. IV drugs sold on the street often contain some level of bacteria or fungi due to unclean conditions of production or packing.
The heating of needles before injection can also lead to black marks around the injection site. This can sometimes be referred to as “shooting tattoos” and often are covered by real ink tattoos in an attempt to hide drug usage.
IV Drug use can be incredibly dangerous and it is vital that anyone suffering from addiction attempt to seek immediate help. It is important when in recovery to not only deal with the addiction but also the elements of mental health that cause addiction in the first place.
Dual-diagnosis treatment focuses one dealing with both the mental disorders and addiction disorders a person in recovery is facing. Depending on what a person in recovery is comfortable with and where their issues may lie, there are also group therapy, family therapy, and individual therapy options.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, can be helpful with those dealing with serious addiction disorders. CBT works by changing the way individuals think about different situations. This helps those in recovery see new options when dealing with the cravings caused by addiction disorders.