Injecting drugs into the body with a needle leads to a variety of physical signs that affect the body. One of the most noticeable signs of IV drug use are track marks. Although many intravenous (IV) users attempt to hide track marks with long sleeves and make up, long-term addiction makes it more difficult to hide a the growing number of track marks and other symptoms of drug use. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health problems caused by or worsened by IV drug use, consider getting help from The Willough at Naples today. It’s never too late to start recovery.
What Are Track Marks?
Track marks or needle marks are the tell-tale signs someone is an IV drug user. They appear as a result of intravenous drug use and become more visible as injection drug use increases. Long-term IV drug usage damages the skin and veins, leading to scar formation anywhere the drugs are injected. Moreover, old and blunt needles require more pressure, causing more damage and increasing the visibility of track marks on the skin.
This method of abusing drugs is associated with drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and opiates. Although IV drug use is most commonly associated with these illicit substances, some prescription opioids are also abused intravenously.
What Do Track Marks Look Like?
Track marks are scars or pinpoint spots that are most commonly found on the forearms. But they can be located anywhere on the body. When they’re fresh, track marks appear as unhealed puncture wounds. However, repeated injections into the same spot can darken the pigmentation of the skin. Other physical signs can also appear as bruising, scarring, lesions, and visible damage to the veins. Moreover, IV drug users tend to have sores and scratches in the same area as a result of the irritated skin attempting to heal.
Where Can They Appear?
Track marks can be dangerous and potentially cause harm to the body. They are scars that form when you continue injecting a drug in the same location on the body. Most IV drug users use their non-dominant arm as an injection site because forearms are easily hidden by wearing long sleeves or using makeup.
However, repeated injections can cause the skin to become inflamed and infected, making them too painful to access and too difficult to keep hidden. Many IV drug users want to hide their drug use so they cover up visible tracks marks. But inflammation and infection makes it more difficult to hide their drug use from others. As a result, IV users find a more discreet injection sites on the body. These areas often include the hands, feet, neck, and groin because veins are clearly visible through the skin.
How Long Do Track Marks Last?
In some cases, track marks can heal and leave barely noticeable scar tissue. Older track marks can also heal if they haven’t been repunctured after healing. However, damage to the skin and veins can sometimes be irreversible. This is common for parts of the body where the skin is thin, such as the tops of hands and feet. Visible track marks and scar tissue can remain in these areas even after they have healed.
It’s possible to heal vein damage with the help of plastic or vascular surgeons. They may be able to reduce the appearance of damaged and discolored veins. But the most effective way to prevent vein damage is to stop injecting drugs intravenously. However, the use of clean needles and keeping existing wounds clean can prevent infection and promote healing. Individuals can also wear compression socks, exercise to improve circulation, and take vitamins to promote healing.
Having a medical professional evaluate damaged veins can prevent the spread of infection near injection sites. Vein damage can cause serious bloodstream infections and other life-threatening health conditions.
Are There Dangers of Intravenous Drug Use?
Intravenous drugs are associated with many health risks beyond just track marks. Anytime someone uses IV drugs, it can cause damage to their veins. As a result, it’s possible for veins to collapse after repeated punctures. In general, collapsed veins are often the result of multiple punctures to the same spot. This happens because the vein walls are no longer able to stay open to allow normal blood flow. This can cause inflammation and swelling that becomes a puncture wound.
Another major health risk associated with IV drug use is infection. The use of dirty or dull needles or preparing drug solutions without clean water are a few of the main causes of infection. Moreover, drug solutions can also be contaminated by bacteria or fungi. Injecting bacteria or fungi into the bloodstream from any of these scenarios can cause it to travel to any major organs in the body including the heart, lungs, and brain. This can cause a life-threatening infection that requires immediate medical attention.
In addition to blood infections, IV drug users have a high risk of developing skin infections and abscesses. An abscess is a swollen and tender pocket of pus that forms under the skin as a result of an underlying infection. These are often painful and require a medical professional to properly drain them and prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection in the body.
However, these physical health risks aren’t the only dangers of IV drug use. Many IV drug users struggle with underlying mental health problems that make it difficult to stop using. As a result, seeking help from an accredited addiction and mental health facility is the safest and most effective way to overcome addiction.
IV Drug Addiction Treatment Options
Located only a block away from the beach in Naples, Florida, The Willough at Naples can help IV drug users struggling with their mental health begin recovery. At our drug addiction treatment center, we provide multiple levels of care to meet the needs of every patient who stays here.
Patients begin their treatment with drug and alcohol detox to help them start recovery on the right foot. Detoxing helps patients safely stop the consumption of drugs and remove leftover toxins from the body. At The Willough at Naples, patients receive 24/7 care and monitoring as they undergo withdrawal. Each individual’s experience with withdrawal differs, but the experienced staff is there to ensure patients are as safe and comfortable as possible throughout this process.
But recovery doesn’t stop just when track marks start to fade. Once detox is completed, patients begin the next step in recovery. Through our comprehensive dual diagnosis program, the overlapping symptoms of addiction and mental health problems are addressed. A combination of our evidence based techniques, can help patients manage their mental health and addiction symptoms in the long run.
Our evidence-based treatment modalities include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Group therapy
- Family education
- Recreational therapy
- Relapse prevention
- Link to community-based services
The physicians, nurses, addiction specialists, and mental health professionals at The Willough at Naples are here to support patients every step of the way.
Start Recovery at The Willough at Naples
Knowing more about track marks and how they appear puts you one step closer to getting you or a loved one life-saving help. From here, you can get in touch with the admission experts at The Willough at Naples by calling 800-722-0100. Or you can also submit a confidential contact form online. We’re here to help you recover from addiction and mental health problems one step at a time.