Injecting drugs into the body is a popular but dangerous method of getting high off illegal narcotics or prescription medications. In fact, the number of people who inject drugs has grown exponentially over the last 10 years. And this has led to a significant rise in overdose deaths and infections linked to the abuse and injection of prescription opioid painkillers and illegal opioids.
In this article, we will discuss what intravenous (IV) drug use is, the reasons why some people resort to injecting drugs, the health risks associated with it, and how to get help for yourself or a loved one who may be struggling with this addiction.
What Is Intravenous Drug Use?
Intravenous refers to administering a substance directly into a vein via needles and syringes. Persons who inject drugs (PWID) sometimes have noticeable, physical puncture marks where the needle entered the skin, called track marks.
At first, you might not realize someone has a problem with injecting drugs because they hide their track marks with makeup and clothing, such as long sleeves, pants, and socks. However, if you suspect someone you know is injecting drugs into their veins, look for physical evidence at common injection sites like forearms, the skin between their fingers and toes, the groin region, the neck, and any other areas of the body that may be difficult to see clearly.
Why Do People Inject Drugs?
Why do people choose to “shoot up” harmful substances rather than snort or smoke them? Injecting drugs bypasses the initial metabolic processing that oral drugs have to go through. Anything a person ingests orally must first be absorbed in the gut, then sent to the liver to be metabolized before entering the bloodstream. By skipping these steps, injecting drugs causes a high to be more intense and start almost immediately.
Some common examples of drugs that people inject include:
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
While injecting drugs may lead to a faster and more intense high, this method of administration also comes with additional risks. For example, people who share needles have a higher chance of contracting certain diseases that can leave them with permanent health issues.
Risks Associated with Intravenous Drug Use
As previously mentioned, injecting drugs directly into your veins carries several potential long-term health risks. When comparing this method of drug use to others, such as snorting, inhaling, or swallowing, people who inject drugs are at a higher risk for:
- Contracting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS)
- Contracting hepatitis B or C
- Developing blood-borne and infectious diseases
- Having damaged blood vessels or collapsed veins
- Developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Contracting infections in and around the punctured skin
- Getting persistent blood infections
- Having chronic bone infections
- Getting bacterial endocarditis
Furthermore, injecting drugs puts a person at a higher risk of suffering an overdose. But thankfully, many addiction rehabs are beginning to implement harm reduction strategies, such as providing fentanyl test strips and having the naloxone readily available in case of an overdose.
Treatment for Injecting Drugs
The Willough at Naples can help those addicted to injecting drugs by providing them with a safe space to detox. Our drug addiction treatment center is located in sunny Naples, Florida, where we offer different levels of care designed to meet the needs of each patient.
In addition, the Willough at Naples helps patients start their recovery journey by providing drug and alcohol detox services. This process allows individuals safely stop using drugs and clears toxins from the body. During a stay here, patients receive 24/7 care and monitoring during withdrawal.
And while some of these symptoms may only be slightly unpleasant, more severe withdrawal symptoms may be life-threatening.
Withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the substance being eliminated from the body but may include:
- Body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
- Heart palpitations
- Tremors and shaking
- Excessive sweating
The skilled staff at The Willough at Naples is dedicated to ensuring patients are safe and comfortable during this phase of treatment.
Recovery is a process that lasts beyond the physical symptoms of addiction. After completing detox, patients enter the next phase of treatment, which focuses on addressing both addiction and any underlying mental health issues through our dual diagnosis program. At The Willough at Naples, we use evidence-based techniques to help patients manage their addiction and mental health symptoms in the long term. Our evidence-based treatment options include the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Group therapy
- Family education
- Recreational therapy
- Relapse prevention
- Link to community-based services
Additionally, the doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and addiction specialists at The Willough at Naples are here to support patients on their recovery journey.
Start Your Recovery at The Willough at Naples
If you or someone you know has been injecting drugs into their body, The Willough at Naples can help. For more information, contact the admission experts at The Willough at Naples by calling 800-722-0100 or submitting a confidential contact form online. We’re here to help you begin the process of recovery and provide you with the tools you need to have a lasting recovery.