IV Drug Use
Drug addiction is a serious problem in the United States. Most people who begin abusing drugs think that they will never engage in intravenous drug use, however, as their tolerance builds they may start to seek more potent administration methods. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 11 million people inject drugs globally.
Intravenous drug use is extremely dangerous. Not only does it increase your risk of experiencing an overdose, but it also puts you in danger of developing blood-borne diseases like Hepatitis and HIV. The WHO reports that 1 in 8 people who abuse IV drugs are living with HIV.
With that being said, it is important to be able to spot the signs of IV drug use and be aware of the potential dangers.
What is Intravenous Drug Abuse?
Intravenous drug use is a type of method of administration for a variety of drugs. To explain, methods of administration are techniques people use to abuse substances, like swallowing a pill, snorting a substance, smoking, or in this case, injecting. If someone is abusing IV drugs, this means they are using a syringe to inject a liquid substance into their veins.
This is the most dangerous way to abuse drugs, as it allows the substance to directly enter your bloodstream. In other words, the substaces are not filtered by your lungs or liver as they would be if you smoked or swallowed a drug. As a result, the risk of overdosing is extremely high among people who abuse IV drugs.
People who inject drugs may use the following terms to describe the action:
- Shooting up
- Mainlining (injecting into a major vein)
- Getting off
- Booting (drawing blood back and re-injecting it)
Even further, this form of drug abuse is heavily linked to the development of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, and other infections. This is because people who are abusing IV drugs tend to share needles with one another.
Despite these risks, people continue to inject drugs because it provides them with a rapid and potent high, allowing them to feel the full effects of the drug immediately.
How to Tell When Someone is Shooting Up
When people begin abusing drugs intravenously, it can be a bit more difficult for them to hide their addiction. This is because IV drug use causes people to have “track marks”, which means they have small needle marks on their arms or other areas of their body. Additionally, they are experiencing much more potent effects of the drugs, causing them to display more behavioral and physical symptoms.
Keeping this in mind, the most common signs of intravenous (IV) drug abuse include:
- Wearing long sleeves in warm weather to conceal needle marks
- Having needles, syringes, burnt spoons, torch lighters, or other drug paraphernalia in their possession
- Social isolation and withdrawal from family and friends
- Displaying obvious symptoms of intoxication, such as nodding off, pinpointed pupils, or drastic changes in mood
- An inability to complete seemingly normal daily tasks and responsibilities
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Symptoms of withdrawal when they are not under the influence
If you are concerned that your loved one is injecting substances, professional addiction treatment can help them regain control over their life. Watching a loved one struggle with addiction is never easy, but drug rehab can help them make the necessary changes to better their life.
Risks and Dangers of IV Drug Use
While substance abuse of any kind is dangerous, IV drug use is in a league of its own. To put things simply, injecting substances increases your risk of experiencing all of the typical dangers associated with drug abuse. Additionally, IV drug use comes with its own risks as well, such as infections and diseases like Hepatitis.
Common risks associated with injecting drugs include:
- Skin and soft tissue infections from non-sterile needles and contaminants in substances
- Abscesses, wound botulism, and necrotizing fasciitis
- Scarring and track marks from repeated injections in the same site
- Collapsed veins from repeated injections
- Heart infections like endocarditis from bacteria being introduced to the blood and heart
- Bloodborne infections like HIV, Hepatitis, and tetanus
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots blocking circulation)
- Fatal overdoses
The most common IV drugs of abuse include heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Depending on which substance your loved one is abusing, the symptoms of overdose may vary. If you notice difficulty breathing, blueness of lips and fingers, unconsciousness, or unresponsiveness, contact emergency medical services immediately.
Seek Help for IV Drug Use Today
Intravenous drug abuse is extremely dangerous, often resulting in a variety of infections, diseases, or life-threatening overdoses. Overcoming an IV drug addiction can be extremely difficult, however, professional drug rehab programs can provide you with the support and tools you need to regain control of your life.
While some of the dangers of IV drug use are irreversible, many are manageable and even treatable with the help of experienced medical professionals. If you leave your addiction untreated, you will eventually develop irreversible medical conditions or suffer from life-threatening overdoses. The only way to prevent this is to seek the help you need from a reputable addiction treatment program.