Drug addiction can have many serious consequences, but some forms of drug abuse come with health risks that are undeniably tied to the form of intake.
Intravenous drug abuse is accompanied by many dangerous side effects that are not associated with smoking, snorting, or oral ingestion. Many individuals who inject drugs never anticipate that they will come to use needles; however, as addiction manifests, the need to achieve faster, greater highs drives many to intravenous use. Many drugs can be abused using needles including:
The intravenous use of these drugs leave users with dangerous, potent, and long-lasting effects, many of which can be fatal.
Injecting drugs into the bloodstream allows the substance to reach the brain more rapidly. This results in an almost instantaneous “rush,” which helps make this method of intake extremely addictive. Injecting drugs greatly increases the risk of overdose and makes it incredibly difficult for medical professionals to intervene. It takes less than one minute for blood to circulate through the entire vascular system, giving the body almost no time to react and try to protect itself. Those who inject drugs may also “cut” the substance with other products to enhance and prolong the effects or to reduce the risk of overdose. This can put individuals at an increased risk for health complications due to adverse interactions between chemicals. This can also exacerbate the side effects of intravenous use and worsen symptoms.
Intravenous drug abuse comes with many life-threatening risks, regardless of the effects caused by the drug itself. Injecting drugs can cause veins to collapse, which occurs most often in instances of repeated trauma at an injection site. This can also occur due to use of a blunt needle, improper technique, irritation from the drug, or by removing the needle too quickly. With repeated use, the inside of the vein becomes damaged and clots begin to form. Clots will eventually completely block the vein and cause sharp pain, blue or black discoloration, itching, and cold hands or feet due to poor circulation. Injected drugs may also contain contaminants that do not dissolve. These may clog blood vessels , causing cells in vital organs to die. This can cause infection and permanent damage and in some cases, leading individuals to summer an immune reaction that can lead to arthritis and other complications.
Intravenous drug use can also result in the spread of bacterial infections and blood-borne viral infections due to dirty needles or sharing of injection equipment. Bacterial infections can affect blood vessels, heart valves and the lining of the heart. Dirty equipment may cause users to develop abscesses, tuberculosis, bone infections, thrombosis, Hepatitis, and HIV, among other diseases. Of the 16 million individuals who inject drugs globally, approximately 3 million of them have HIV. On average, one out of every ten new HIV infections is due to intravenous drug use.
Individuals who inject drugs often require special medical attention during the recovery process due to the drastic negative effects of use. Users are more prone to infection and complications and may require antibiotic treatment and/or other medications to treat health problems that develop as a result of abuse.